Our Ripponden firm has contributed much to our local stone-built architectural heritage. O & W Crawshaw became a limited company in 1956 although the business had been in existence for much longer. Brother Orlando and William Crawshaw had worked for their father Johnathon Crawshaw and his brother Richard Arther Crawshaw who had earlier traded as Crawshaw Bros. Nor were the Crawshaw brothers the only Crawshaws in the local stone masonry business. Two of Johnathon and Richard Arther Crawshaws older brothers also practiced the same trade and a third was an architect to many of the earliest projects. Crawshaw stone masons have been around for generations, the trade having been passed down from father to son.
According to the family history the Crawshaw family had originally been Flemish weavers who had entered this country via the Humber in the late 18 th century, leaving quite a few relatives still living in the Barton-on-Humber area. The family were staunch Methodists and were actively involved in the establishment and building of the Stone Methodist Church and school in Ripponden from the earliest years of the 19th Century even before the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Weavers Joseph and John Crawshaw of Round Ing, Rishworth were amongst the first trustees of the Stones Methodist Chapel. Such support would continue for generations; one of the early burials there records the passing of Joseph Crawshaws wife who died at the age of 89 years in 1844; her headstone records that she was the mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother to an astonishing 397 descendants.
By the mid 19th century the Crawshaw name appears as stone masons in the local Gazetteer. Generally however members of the family continued to be weavers, the oldest members having started in the weaving business at the age of only eight in the mill, some leaving to work with stone when they became strong enough for the heavier work required in the building industry. The family at first was only involved in masonry but later made a natural progression to become quarry owners. The present business began in the Ripponden Wood area before moving to Castle Quarry in Nursery Lane, Ripponden early in the 20th century.
During the first world war Orlando Crawshaw had served in the army, his brother William however was able to stay at home and mind the shop a result of an accident with a crane while building part of Stones Mill at Ripponden in which he suffered a fractured skull and the loss of one eye. Williamss absence from service would be made up for in the Second World War when his son Bryan would train as a pilot in the RAF. Bryan Crawshaw, who would eventually succeed his father and uncle, was in turn followed by his sons Alan & Graham as joint managing directors. Alan served his apprenticeship with the firm whilst Graham was apprenticed to a joiner in Barkisland before working in Salford & Rochdale as a building clerk of works. Graham also spent seven years part time teaching building skills theory at Percival Whitley College before joining his brother Alan following the sudden and premature death of their father, Bryan.
Whilst Castle Quarry has always operated as a builders yard until the early 1950s it was also where stone was quarried and worked. At one time there was a small crane there but usually the stone was brought out using hand levers and rollers and then split up using wedges or plugs and feathers. The site still houses a 25 HP single cylinder Blackstone stationary diesel engine that was used to power a mortar mill and plant for crushing waste and lower grade stone which was used as aggregate. The youngest member of the Crawshaw line, William Crawshaw's great grandson Mark Crawshaw has devoted his spare time to putting the old equipment back in working order.
Mark's elder sister, Lisa Amer joined the family firm shortly followed by Emma Hughes, Lisas younger sister. Today Emma still helps her mother Jean to run the company accounts and administration department.
Today the company concentrates on building work and Castle Quarry site is no longer used for quarry operations. All raw materials are bought in. In the early 1980s the company developed a joinery side of its business, first using premises behind Northfield pub in Barkisland formerly owned by the village joiner Edwin Darby. In the late 1990s however an office and a new joinery workshop were built in Castle Quarries to make the business more efficient working from a single site.
Work today is generally within a 25 mile radius of Ripponden and still involves building one off houses and commercial/industrial buildings together with domestic, commercial and industrial extensions and modifications. Key features of the forms work are high quality cabinet work and traditional joinery made to measure, naturally all combined with masonry and general building work completed to a very high standard. For many years the company has also been sexton to around 20 church yards digging graves, building vaults and installing monumental masonry.
Over the years the firm has been involved with building stone built terraced or detached properties visible on the approach to Ripponden. Other projects have included Elland baths in 1900, Victoria Mill in Elland, Barkisland Mill, Boulderclough Chapel, Stones School in Ripponden, Stones Chapel and the old Halifax Building Society in commercial street, Halifax. To find out more please do not hesitate to give us a call.