Vale Bridgecraft today reflects 146 years of quality furniture manufacturing and, as in the past, means people passionate about upholstery, determined to offer the kind of special quality that remains (as the old saying goes) hard to define but easy to recognise.
Vale Upholstery was established in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1947 by a Mr & Mrs Lomax who worked originally under Utility restrictions, re-covering furniture and then creating their own simple pieces. The business was based in Vale Mill, Todmorden, the location giving the company its name. The couple grew the business drawing from the long established craftsman skills in joinery and textiles that the region is famous for as well as a heritage of fine furniture making.
In 1962 Vale Ltd. had grown to around 40 staff and moved to Halifax Road, Todmorden, this old mill building providing the perfect location and, with its huge windows and light airy surroundings, helped the burgeoning business grow even further.
In 1982 Vale moved to its present location, Mytholmroyd near Hebden Bridge. This bigger mill used to house the Moderna Blanket business and now provided the space for a workforce that had grown to 60. By the millennium, Vale, which was now combined with the Bridgecraft brand had a workforce of over 100.
In addition to the factory showroom, in 2000, Vale Bridgecraft opened its first off site showroom in Draycott, Gloucestershire which created further display space and a location further south, to present the huge number of range options to the public rather than just trade customers
The Bridgecraft tradition started nearly 70 years ago in a tiny workshop by Leeds Bridge, Leeds.
This was in 1935 when Maurice (Morry) Lee started out in business in a converted stable called Shepherd's Fold. In a press interview in the 1980s Morry remembered that the space was so small that a six foot settee was impossible to complete without breaking a hole in the wall first.
Known originally as the ‘Bridge' Upholstery, the fledgling firm staked its early reputation on the uncompromising craft standards Morry learned as an apprentice on the bench. As a very gifted and intuitive upholsterer, he set out to produce the kind of furniture that would be durable, affordable and always just that little bit better than its competitors.
It was in the late 40s and early 50s, following the end of wartime utility restrictions, that the Bridge Upholstery and Bridgecraft furniture really took off from its new home in Mabgate, Leeds. In the very early days all three piece suites were in either rust, green or brown moquette - a far cry from the choice, style and colour flair that became the hallmark of the brand. By the early 1960s it was generally considered that to have a Bridgecraft suite in your living room was somewhat akin to having a Jaguar car parked in your drive. When Bridgecraft celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1985, and, now incorporated into the Vale Group, its designs were at last available to a wider audience.