Celebrating over 55 years of manufacturing Learn more about our company history
The Seeds of an Idea
Inspired by his children, Brian Dunham developed an interest and skill in carpentry, crafting toy boxes and even a garden slide to keep them amused. This keen interest led him to pursue and experiment with different forms of woodwork and creating fitted cupboards.
Brian’s older brother was an architect and one of his projects required the fabrication of cubicles. Brian worked alongside his brother to design and manufacture the required washroom products. The project was a great success and encouraged him to pursue this industry niche. Brian began working alongside architects and specifiers to create bespoke washroom solutions.
He generated custom by cold calling, manufactured the products by hand in his garage and then delivered the finished product, strapped to the roof of his Morris Traveller! Soon, the Dunham’s name became well known in the construction industry, promising both quality products and excellent service, values we are still known for today.
B H Dunham & Sons Take Root
1968 saw the real start-up of B H Dunham & Sons in Porterfield Road in Norwich. Initially, the firm mainly worked within the education sector and particularly so for local schools. The new firm’s first job was for Angel Road School in Norwich. Two product ranges were available at the time. The melamine, Economy Range and the chipboard, Classic, offering a popular, spray Portaflec finish.
As business grew, the company invested in a sliding table saw for cutting chipboard. Brian also began investigating different material options as it became evident that a more waterproof solution was required. He discovered High Pressure Laminate (HPL) and built his own press to create panels with a HPL finish. HPL became the foundation for a new and improved Classic range and still remains so today. In the early days, everything, even the cubicle feet were made by hand at the firm’s first premises.
1976 – 1980
Business Begins to Grow
B H Dunham & Sons needed to move to new premises in 1976. Meteor Close in Norwich provided plenty of space to house the ever expanding business. In addition, the purchase of a hydraulic press for laminating, enabled expansion into the a new market sector, servicing the local boat building industry with laminated boards.
The firm also began developing additional products, such as cloakroom benching, to clients in the education sector.
1980 saw another move for the blossoming business with new premises in Heigham Street in Norwich. Straight from school, Brian’s first son, Mark, also joined the family firm and still works there today along with his brothers James and Simon and further generations of the Dunham family.
Brian always led the way in innovation, keen to embrace new equipment and products that could improve efficiency and enhance customer service. The 1980s heralded the company’s first computerised saw, helping to forge ahead to a future of further growth.
1986 saw a further move of premises to a purpose built factory unit at Hellesdon Park Road in Norwich.
Product development continued with IPS Duct panels and vanity units became an integral part of washroom design and particularly so, for projects within the education sector. Duct panels not only conceal unsightly pipework and services but importantly, also provide protection from hot pipes.
Advances in sanitaryware also contributed to the overall improvement in washroom design. B H Dunham & Sons expanded their product range to meet expectations and provide a cleaner and more attractive finish for construction and refurbishment projects. Washrooms were beginning to become recognised as an important part of interior design.
Dunhams of Norwich established
A new era began for B H Dunham & Sons with an exciting product rebrand. Challenger, the Classic and Concord cubicle ranges became the pillars of the product offering. The Challenger range was launched as the ideal waterproof solution for high traffic and wet areas, utilising Solid Grade Laminate (SGL) as the ultimate in water resistance and impact protection. In fact, the Challenger and Classic ranges are still going strong today.
Importantly, B H Dunham & Sons also changed their company name, becoming Dunhams of Norwich.
1999 saw the company making important advances in children’s washroom solutions. While washroom panels had always been bespoke for projects within the education sector, standard, adult-height cubicles were usually installed. However, Dunhams noted a gap in the market and recognised the need for a washroom range, specifically for children.
The Classic Junior was created to provide lower height washroom facilities for younger children. Bright, clean and age-appropriate washrooms encourage children to take pride in their facilities and allows for adult supervision when required. This, in turn, can help to reduce the traditional, school toilet issues of vandalism and bullying.
In 2006, Dunhams of Norwich became Dunhams Washroom Systems to reflect the growing spread of projects across the UK.
Further product development saw the introduction of the Kinder, Aspect and Altitude cubicle ranges.
By the end of the decade, with continued investment in new machinery, space was becoming a problem and the search for new premises began.
In 2013, Dunhams moved to their current location in Neatishead, Norfolk. The 17000 ft2 premises provided ample space to provide increased manufacturing capacity and keep up with demand.
Further product developments included the Vista cubicle system as well as solid surface washtroughs.
In May 2018, Dunhams was delighted to become a Limited Company, trading under the name Dunhams Washroom Systems Ltd. This organisational change coincides with their 50th year of trading, as they continue to build on the solid foundations established by BH Dunham & Sons in 1968.
A state-of-the-art panel storage and saw system was installed late 2018 a result of continued commitment to investment in manufacturing capabilities.
Renewable Energy Investment
Recognising the needs to reduce impact on energy usage and the environment, Dunham’s invested in large array of solar panels installed on the roof of the main factory building.
In conjunction with other energy and waste reduction schemes, this important move will greatly help our progress towards a more sustainable operation.
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