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Marsh & Jones; Also Marsh, Jones and Cribb (1864-1936)

Marsh & Jones; also Marsh, Jones and Cribb

West Bar, Boar Lane and Basinghall Street, Leeds, Yorks.; cabinet makers, upholsterers &c. (fl. 1864-1936)

John Marsh and Edward Jones bought John Kendell’s business at 10 West Bar in 1864, although they did not acquire the Boar Lane premises until 1869. Kendell also had a London branch in Cavendish Square. Henry Humphries Cribb, who had a furnishing business in Soho Square, London, sent his son to Marsh & Jones in Leeds to carry out his apprenticeship and this son became a partner in the firm by 1872, when the firm was first listed in directories as Marsh, Jones and Cribb. Directories give the following addresses: 1864 (Marsh and Jones), 10 West Bar; 1870, 91 Basinghall Street; 1872 (Marsh, Jones & Cribb) Boar Lane; 1875, 48 Boar Lane, Basinghall Street; 1902, 48 Boar Lane and Globe Road, Holbeck; 1907, 8 and 16 Basinghall Street (counting house), Berking Avenue, York Road (works); 1925, 3, 4, 12 &14 Cabinet Chambers, 20a Basinghall Street and 10 Basinghall Street, 76 East Street (factory); 1929, 14 & 51 Cabinet Chambers, 20a Basinghall Street; 1936, 56 Cookridge Street.   

Marsh, Jones & Cribb had a national and international reputation. In 1875 they exhibited at the Yorkshire Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures and in 1878 at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. By 1888 there were spacious showrooms in Boar Lane and the factory in nearby Basinghall Street was equipped with the most modern steam-driven machinery. From Kendell the firm inherited the practise of labelling their furniture with the firm’s name, job number and workman’s name.

The firm’s best known commission was for the industrialist Titus Salt, pioneer of the model industrial town of Saltaire. Most of the furniture was supplied in readiness for his marriage in March 1865 and was installed at Baildon Lodge, Baildon. The designer was Charles Bevan. Some of the furniture survives in the collection of Leeds Museums at Lotherton Hall, Yorks. The bills are extensively transcribed in Boynton, Furniture History (1967) and some of the furniture is also illustrated (pls 16-24). Another large commission was for Titus Salt jnr., for his house at Milner Field (1866). The relationship with Bevan was an enduring one. Marsh & Jones were the makers of the new reclining chair registered by Bevan and advertised in July 1865, where they were called ‘Medieval Cabinet Makers’. This chair and an oak davenport inlaid with various other woods also by Bevan are illustrated in Gere & Whiteway (1993), p. 113. However, by 1867 Bevan was no longer associated with the firm and it worked with other designers; the Jacobean dining room furniture illustrated in Bruce Talbert’s Examples of Ancient and Modern Furniture (1876) was made by Marsh, Jones and Cribb. For W. R. Lethaby in the 1880s and 1890s they made inlaid rosewood furniture, and for Heathcote, Ilkley, they made furniture designed by Edwin Lutyens.  A table, c.1872, of oak, turned and inlaid, was formerly in the Charles & Lavinia Handley-Read collection and at the 1878 Paris Exhibition the firm displayed a Talbert-designed sideboard, of oak with marquetry and carved panels (illus. Meyer, (2006) p. 258). Their Lethaby-designed furniture exhibited at the 1890 Arts and Crafts Exhibition was described by Ernest Gimson to Ernest Barnsley as ‘wonderful furniture of a commonplace kind’.

Ultimately Marsh died and Jones then retired leaving Cribb on his own until A I Swift and E J Thompson, both formerly with Gillows of Lancaster, joined him c.1897. On 5 February 1905 the company was registered as Marsh, Jones and Cribb Ltd. Thompson retired in 1909, followed by Cribb and Swift in 1919, at which time the company was taken over by Mr Redman and Mr Fenton, and in 1923 by C P Sixsmith. In the 1920s the firm made ‘modern’ furniture, but also reproduced ‘Georgian’ and ‘Queen Anne’ designs. They acquired a reputation for high-quality shipboard furnishings; the liner Saturnia (launched 1927) was one of their commissions.

Sources: Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962); Boynton, ‘High Victorian Furniture: The Example of Marsh and Jones of Leeds’, Furniture History (1967); Agius, British Furniture 1880-1915 (1978); Comino, Gimson and the Barnsleys ‘Wonderful furniture of a commonplace kind’ (1980); Gere & Whiteway, Nineteeth-Century Design from Pugin to Mackintosh (1993); Meyer, Great Exhibitions. London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia. 1851-1900 (2006); Wallis, ‘A Hand-List of the Handley-Read Collection’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2016).