In 1968 a fellow Quaker wrote “Crofton Gane’s main concern was that men should enjoy their work and find fulfilment in it. All his activities, spread over his long life, arose from his faith in man's inherent dignity as a maker. He believed that man would come through because God is in him. He believed, therefore, in tomorrow. Beauty of form and excellence of craftsmanship were his delight.”
THE TRUST’S ORIGINS
The Gane Trust was created at Bristol in 1954, by Crofton Gane (1877-1967). A pioneering furniture designer and manufacturer, his was a family firm, first Trapnell and Co., then Trapnell and Gane, then Gane’s of Bristol. He joined the firm in 1896, served in the Friends’ Ambulance Division in the First World War, returned to Bristol and became passionate about the new modern spirit in design, founding a Bristol branch of the newly formed Design and Industries Association.
CROFTON GANE AND MODERNISM
Under his leadership a traditional furniture firm became a remarkable (and rare) champion of modern design in Britain. When the leading Bauhaus designer, Marcel Breuer, came to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, a lifelong friendship began. Among his many commissions for Gane was one of Breuer’s two all-time favourite buildings - the little Gane Pavilion, built in 1936 for the Royal Show in Ashton Park. It was to showcase Gane furniture, which for customers “created a new way of living adapted to the modern world”.
It is not surprising that Crofton should have set up a trust to better people’s lives. The firm was a model for human relations - as early as 1935 a bonus scheme and medical scheme were introduced which included share allotments for the workers. He was fascinated by fresh ideas and quick to give the word of encouragement, continually writing to people who were undertaking some creative service. To everything that was making a "contribution" (to use his favourite word) he was willing to give his great energy, his thought and his money.
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