'History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme' - Mark Twain.
A gallimaufry of random China history and research interests
Monday, December 22, 2008
Crittall in Shanghai - Some Photos Unearthed
A few months back I posted on Crittall windows in Shanghai (see here). You still regularly come across original Crittall window frames in Shanghai though sadly less and less as people too often decide to renew them with cheaper and less aesthetically appealing UPVC frames in the belief that this is somehow 'modern'...or some such notion. Actually I visited the new Cotton's bar at 294 Xinhua Road the other night which is in an old building - originally a stand alone house in the English style with its own garden, then a multi-occupancy dwelling and now a bar. They've still got the Crittall windows fortunately though they could do with a repair - here's hoping, that if and when they do them, they don't ruin the look of the building by opting for cheap white plastic crap.
Anyway the good people at Crittall in the UK (to see how good Crittall can still look see their website that shows that decent architects still appreciate quality) saw my post and dug out some photos of their old Shanghai factory and staff from the late 1920s which I share with you below. Many thanks to Crittall.
By the way- the picture above of Crittall's team in Shanghai in 1928 is interesting for a number of reasons including their use of a Chinese salesman and Portuguese accountant (of course foreign businesses in China have any number of Chinese salesmen these days but I haven't met one who boasted a Portuguese accountant for some time!!). Also, the picture was taken in the Ah Fong Studios. Ah Fong was a Chinese photographer who had been trained by early western photographers in the late 1800s around Canton and then opened his own studio and worked through to the Second World War (his studio's pictures of Nanjing in 1937 were to be instrumental in ensuring that the West knew of the Rape of Nanking and that Japanese denials of the massacre could be exposed as lies).
Crittall's Shanghai workshop and premises in the late 1920s
As someone who divides their time pretty evenly writing about China now and China back then this seemed like a place to throw all the interesting bits that fall through the cracks somehow and never get used anywhere else.
It's basically the stuff that doesn't get used in my writing about modern China or in the books I do about old China - i.e. probably of little interest to anyone but me and therefore ideally suited to an obscure blog up a dark cul-de-sac of the Internet.