Gratte Brothers

About us

Our Family

Derrick and André Gratte, the founders of Gratte Brothers, were born eight years apart in Knebworth Hertfordshire, the 2nd and 3rd sons in a family of four children. Their father Urbain was a Professor of History, their mother, Ada, a Court Dressmaker.

Educated at Alleyne’s School, Stevenage, André left in 1919 and eventually settled on a career as a maintenance electrician, employed by Chater Lea, a manufacturer of top-of-the-range components for bicycles, which was headquartered in Letchworth, Herts. Derrick left in 1927 and joined the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company, a forerunner of the London Electricity Board where he trained as a cable jointer.

In 1941 Derrick married Connie and the couple went on to have four children Martin, Patricia, Ian and Angela.

With the war over the brothers decided to set up on their own and Gratte Brothers Ltd was registered in 1946 as an electrical contracting company. The business was started in a Nissan Hut erected in the garden of the family home in Hertfordshire, with a capital of £100.00. In 1946 this sum represented twenty weeks wages, as the tradesman’s average wage was £1.00 per day.

With an extensive knowledge of the London market, from his time with the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company, Derrick decided to establish a London office and took premises at No. 13 Red Lion Square.

André remained in the Knebworth branch and married at the mature age of 58 years. He sadly passed away in 1972.

Meanwhile Derrick’s sons Martin and Ian had joined Gratte Brothers in 1966 and 1968 respectively following Martin’s apprenticeship at Rashleigh Phipps, now part of Skanska and Ian’s with Troughton Young, now part of Balfour Beatty. It was at Derrick’s insistence that they complete apprenticeships outside of the family business, in order that they received ‘no preferential treatment’ whilst training. They were joined in 1974 by further family member, Ian Bass, Derrick’s son-in-law, who had married Patricia Gratte two years earlier.

Derrick continued to run the company until he finally retired in the late 1980s when he was well into his 70s.

He was succeeded by Martin as Chairman and Ian as Managing Director with Ian Bass as Finance Director – positions they hold to this day.

Derrick continued to take a daily interest in the company’s fortunes until he passed away in 2005.

The company has recruited a third generation of Grattes as Martin’s son Stephen and Ian’s son David are both actively involved in the running of the company.