For me, the big moment of the 'Crabtree Centenary' was standing in front of the Electrium office tower block in Cannock, having my wife Heather take a photograph of me. On the tower were large banners with the words 'Crabtree 100 Years of Electrical Safety'. I felt proud of my association with the company founded by John Ashworth Crabtree on 17th April 1919.
Electrium had kindly invited members of the Crabtree family for a tour of the building, including three of the founder’s grandchildren: Rosemarie McEwen (from Houston, Texas), Sonia McGregor (from Cape Town, South Africa), and Robert Crabtree (from Shropshire), Society members were also included. I am so glad I was invited to join the group, for the offices were fascinating to see in comparison with what I remembered of facilities at Lincoln Works.
A buffet lunch was provided, and it was there I met with the grandchildren of David Crabtree (Inez McGregor, Kristopher Crabtree together with his twin sisters Katie and Emily Crabtree). I only spoke to their grandfather twice (when I was a young apprentice working in Control Gear Drawing Office), but he made a great impression on me, and I was able to tell his descendents of my meeting and what I thought of him. They were keen to hear.
I also chatted with John Arnold Crabtree, a more distant relation, who had planned only to attend the public events the previous day in Walsall, but became so interested in what was taking place, he decided to stay for an extra day to be with us at Electrium in Cannock.
In 1919, when J A Crabtree started manufacturing electric products in an old leather works in Walsall, could he have foreseen where it would all lead? I suspect he could, for he was a man of foresight and tenacity.
John Ashworth Crabtree, looked into the future, at a time (the end of 'The Great War'), when business was starting to get back into full working order and new houses were being built. He was the right man at the right time with the right products. We can only speculate on what he would have achieved, and where he would have taken his company, had he not died, aged 49, in 1935.
I wondered, while on the tour of the Electrium offices, what the founder would have thought of it all? I imagine he would have been interested in the computer technology and all the new products. He would have instantly grasped the safety aspects built in to modern electrical equipment, and he would have done so because that was his nature.
Electrical items he designed were made to last and were inherently safe – they had to be, for he knew his future, and the future of his company, rested on those simple factors: durability and safety. Durability and safety are just as important for Electrium today, and I feel certain J A Crabtree would have been well satisfied his name is still synonymous with the aims he set out one hundred years before.
*Electrium (a Siemens Company) is the owner of the Crabtree brand of electrical installation equipment. Other brands in the group include : Wylex, Volex, Appleby.