Lewes Design Contracts Ltd was founded in 1966. Starting out in a small workshop in Lewes, East Sussex. Our first staircase design, the DS (Domestic Stair) used a system of cast iron support brackets, laminated timber treads and handrails and steel rod balustrading. It proved to be a popular choice. With refinement, and a change to a cast aluminium bracket, this system remains in production today as part of the DS range.
The Company began to move away from furniture production to specialise in staircases and adopted the trading name of Spiral Staircase Systems. Commissioned to build a stair inside a minaret in Abu Dhabi, the team seized the opportunity for publicity by erecting the 75 foot stair on Newhaven beach, gaining coverage in the national press.
Having outgrown our Lewes town centre premises, we moved to an old mill building in the nearby village of Glynde. We expanded our product range to include custom made helical stairs, using traditional materials alongside stainless steel and acrylic. Each stair was custom designed and detailed in our drawing office on drawing boards and tracing paper using imperial sizes.
With extensive adaptation, this multi-story mill building with its woodwork department and drawing office remains our home to this day.
We further expanded our workshops into a former chalk quarry opposite the Mill where a dedicated metalwork facility was built to construct all the structures required for the majority of our staircases. We also used this facility to carry out extensive research and development to push the boundaries of stair design.
One of Spiral’s many technological advances in the early years, was the development of the seamless helical steel handrail – an innovation that our competitors have struggled to emulate. We still use the same carefully calculated process to manufacture our helical handrails today.
Spiral introduced our first CAD program – PoweCad, which enabled us to start to draw the staircases digitally rather than by hand.
A special helical staircase was commissioned in this year to be used in a Christian Dior advert. This 4 flight helical staircase had a life span of just 2 weeks, long enough for the production of the Dior TV advert in an aircraft hangar just south of Paris, France. Designed, built and erected by ourselves in record time of just 3 weeks!
Glyndebourne Opera House – The world renowned opera house Glyndebourne is a mile up the road from Spiral HQ, so it was particularly agreeable when the Christie family asked the company to produce a stair for their production of ‘Pelleas et Melisande’. This was a particularly challenging job because, as a piece of the stage set, it was necessary for this stair to be mobile, which given its size and weight is quite a tall order.
The Spiral book was released, showcasing 40 years of design and technology and how style, functionality and technology has evolved throughout the years.
The Halley VI stair was manufactured – Spiral Staircase Systems was appointed to help with the upgrade of Britain’s Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, by providing the spiral staircase for the latest of the raised buildings – the red recreation module.
Spiral was approached to provide a stylish staircase for Skype’s new London HQ. This unique piece was drawn and manufactured to fit the modern aesthetic of their office and as a centrepiece through several floors of the building.
The Halley VI staircase was eventually installed, having spent the best part of 12 months stored on the Antarctic ice shelf. The stair provides a link between the modular sections of the segmented structures within the recreation area.
We celebrated 50 years of Spiral with a major upgrade to our offices and wood workshop, creating a much larger footprint on the ground floor of the Mill building. This allows all the woodworking machinery and work benches to be on one level and increases efficiency. This enabled us to free up space on our first floor and create our modern offices served of course by our own custom made helical staircase.
We began to assist the local village community by being main sponsor of the Glynde Reach & Beddingham gravity kart race and Glynde cricket club – National Village KO winners Lords 2009.
Our Logo text was slightly altered from ‘Spiral Staircase Systems’ to Spiral Helical and Straight Stairs’ to better represent our modern scope of works. The recognisable red and grey ‘Spiral’ lettering has remained the same to maintain our identity.