The Catchpole & Rye journey began in 1990 when Tony O’Donnell undertook the renovation of a Victorian claw-footed bathtub he found in a cottage he had purchased. The mission led him through the salvage yards of Kent and France, revealing a forgotten heritage: that of Victorian plumbing products. Ten years later he and his wife Elaine converted a former Kentish dairy into a bathroom manufacturing workshop to create their own modern classics.
Today Catchpole & Rye is a thriving brand, designing classic baths, basins and other sanitaryware at its 40,000 sq/ft facility in rural Kent, and transforming metals like copper, brass and iron into modern masterpieces. The brand’s extensive workshops enable an in-house team of skilled craftsmen to produce and finish every piece to the highest standard.
‘We are finding that more and more UK-based customers are insisting upon British manufactured products,’ says Tony O’Donnell. ‘The recent difficulties created by Brexit and the vagaries of international transport have highlighted the benefits of buying the best homegrown products. We remain in control of both supply and quality at all times, and are in fact experiencing increased demand. In response to this we have extended our CNC engineering and electroplating facilities and expect our brass foundry to come online in 2022.’
Catchpole & Rye works with residential and commercial clients, including architects and designers, from all over the world. Projects range from Barbadian mansions to Parisian apartments and grand English restorations. A true hero moment emerged in 2021 when George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations TV programme on Channel 4 chose to catalogue the transformation of the disused Cornish Bank premises at St Columb Major into an extraordinary family home featuring a Catchpole & Rye bath. The owners championed the use of local tradespeople and resources, and sourced British-made products. Catchpole & Rye upcycled scrap metal from the old bank vault to create the unique double-ended Vingt Neuf bathtub, which now sits in pride of place in the owners’ bedroom. The programme also filmed at the Catchpole & Rye foundry and showroom in Pluckley.
The artisanal nature of the Catchpole & Rye business means that creativity is championed and innovation is constant. A collection of traditional lighting is now in the works, and the Empress and Victoria collections of British-made ceramic sanitaryware have been expanded. New versions of the popular Pyrford marble washstand are now being produced in green Verde marble and other finishes, with the addition of a hammered metal shelf that comes in a choice of nickel, copper or brass. As well as adding to a sensational look, the metal shelf is also a practical place of storage for bathroom accessories and towels – proving how, with a bit of ingenuity, beauty and function really can work hand-in-hand.