At Country Creatures we are proud of the British craftsmen and designers that we use in the refurbishment of our properties. The Double Red Duke (due to open in February 2021) is undergoing a major renovation programme utilising the very best of British manufacturing. We work with people we know and trust. Our Country Creatures Design Series showcases the skill and incredible workmanship of these brilliant companies. For the first in our series we are shining a spotlight on Samuel Heath, who have been dedicated to the manufacturing of the highest quality of bathroom accessories for nearly 200 years.
The collections at Samuel Heath draw upon British design talent for a sense of uniqueness, distinction and elegance. Each of the products formed from the finest solid brass, assembled and hand-finished by dedicated craftsmen and women.It is almost two centuries since the first machines began to turn at Samuel Heath’s factory in Birmingham, at the heart of England. Craftsmanship and integrity are their core principles then and remain so now as they approach manufacturing and design with an authority afforded by confidence in their heritage.
We have long been working with Samuel Heath at Country Creatures. Their reputation, expertise and attention to detail is clear to see and are proud to be working with them again now at the Double Red Duke. We grabbed a quick moment with Martyn Whieldon, soon to be managing director, to ask him a few questions.
I joined the company back in 1995 as a sales representative in Europe. This involved travelling widely to visit dealers and specifiers – we are sociable creatures and not going to trade shows & events is something that we have really missed this year!
I have also witnessed the evolution of the brass interiors industry within my time here. Although times may have been challenging for the industry this year, we are working towards innovations which add to our strengths without compromising our values. I am excited for what the future holds for Samuel Heath.
Birmingham has been regarded as the home of the UKs metalwork industries from as early as the 16th century, so it was only fitting for the Heath family to have founded the company here in 1820. Over the years we produced a vast array of products including accessories for firesides, homeware and giftware. Armed with our industrious heritage, we have established ourselves as designers and manufacturers of high quality taps, showers, bathroom accessories and door and window fittings with distinctive style, quality and performance.
We are both designer and manufacturer of our products and this rests on our ability to combine tried and tested, time-honoured techniques with advanced production methods. While we rely on modern precision machinery to ensure inherent strength of our brassware, our intricate designs require the attention of experienced craftsmen and women who assemble and finish every piece by hand. We pride ourselves on the transparency of our high quality manufacture, which is why we invite trade professionals to view via our factory tours at our Birmingham factory.
Our collections draw upon British design talent for a unique and elegant look. We are particularly renowned for our tap ranges, which are prime examples of raw and refined design. Our Landmark Pure and Industrial collections are characterized by cross tops and levers which can add a real accent to a bathroom or kitchen, especially with the eight finish options that are available.
Every detail and engineered component is crafted from solid brass, which is pretty unheard of in the industry. This includes components which may be concealed including shower components, for example, that are often made of plastic. When you are operating our products you can physically feel the difference.
At the time Samuel Heath was founded it was one of hundreds of brass foundries in Birmingham, yet today we are one of the surviving few. We believe that this is because our ethos has changed very little since our inception.
One of the most recent pressures our industry has faced is that of Far East manufacturing. Rather than yield to demand for ever-cheaper prices we stayed true to our roots and preserved our manufacturing skills, which allows us to offer bespoke solutions and finishes such as those chosen by the Double Red Duke.
Craftsmanship and integrity were our core principles in the early 19th century and remain so now as we approach manufacturing and design with an authority afforded by confidence in our heritage.
Our production is a very human endeavor and the quality is uncompromising at every stage of the 28 processes a single component can go through. Our manufacture runs in a series of ‘phases’, starting with the foundation of our products: pure brass.
Each individual component is meticulously formed using a very specific combination of the purest Northern European metals to create a brass unlike any other. Solid blocks of brass are then cut, milled and lathed using advanced CNC machines to adhere to laser-precise detail and specifications. Meanwhile, components including our Landmark Pure cross levers are individually created from a solid brass block which is heated to 600°C and then stamped into shape with a traditional Hot Stamp which is operated by hand.
The parts are polished by hand to produce a flawless finish – which is key to achieving the kind of finish we demand. This is where our attention to British craftmanship is really pronounced. All of our products need to be polished in a different way and a machine simply couldn’t be programmed to accommodate the thousands of variations in design. An inexperienced way of polishing could compromise the grain lines or distort the very malleable metal and experience is the only thing that can perfect this art. This kind of skill takes several years to master. In a world increasingly dominated by technology and automation; this demonstrates how technology has not eclipsed craftmanship just yet!
After polishing, we use a high-quality electroplating process to achieve the wide variation of finishes that we offer. This involves treating the brass in cleaning dips and solutions before further layers of metal plating. These layers of processing are above industry specifications to retain a beautiful colour and a lasting finish that doesn’t darken, corrode or patina.
Next the parts move on to assembly by hand, in which our staff are able to inspect the look, weight and control of products without the use of tools. Once the finished fittings are assembled, various testing is carried out to ensure that the user experience is consistently high.
All of our production process take place at our Birmingham factory which assures total control over manufacturing, quality and environmental responsibility. Our ability to pioneer new movements in brassware is made possible by our unique ability to combine technology, tradition and time-honoured British craftsmanship.