Our history


Colt Ventilation Ltd is founded by Jack O’Hea in London.


Colt vehicle ventilators are introduced. These used the movement of the vehicle to ensure both inlet and extract ventilation simultaneously.


Colt Cowl” domestic chimney terminals are marketed under the slogan “Smoky Fires Definitely Cured (Underwritten money back guarantee)”.


Colt builds a highly advanced wind tunnel to test ventilation equipment as part of its investment programme in R&D and innovation.


The Colt black-out ventilator is launched for buildings and ships at the start of World War Two. This allowed ventilation through the black-out curtains into which it was sewn while preventing any light from leaking out.


Colt develops the industrial survey. Pictured here is a ventilation survey kit of the 1940's, showing a Filtrometer to measure pressure drop across air filters and an air meter to measure air velocity.


The Clear Opening ventilator was developed which had an innovative rain channel incorporated into the pressed aluminium blades.


The Sloping Roof ventilator is introduced for factories – the first to lie along the roof slope rather than on the ridge, reducing installation and maintenance costs. The Clear Opening ventilator is introduced for industrial buildings such as foundries, providing cooler working conditions while letting in natural daylight.


The Inflow Unit for industrial buildings is launched. This fan unit warms, re-circulates and filters the incoming air. The modular build from standard components is an additional advantage, as it offers a wide variety of options.


Colt begins its expansion beyond Europe by working with distributors in Australasia, South Africa and the Middle East. The image shows the Colt team in 1953.


Colt pioneers the use of high grade aluminium alloy to replace steel, which had been the traditional material used for industrial roof ventilators. The use of this very light material eliminates the need for expensive support structures. It is easy to handle in production, transport and installation but very strong and durable, as proved by the great number of ventilators built by Colt in the 1950s that are still in working condition.


Colt designs and installs the world’s first smoke ventilation system at the General Motors factory in Luton, UK. At this time, the advent of huge single-storey industrial buildings requires a new approach to fire safety: Colt introduces the concept of smoke ventilation, turning conventional wisdom to starve a fire of oxygen on its head. The image is of a fire at Jaguar in Coventry, UK, the results of which precipitated the interest in smoke ventilation.


After a series of devastating industrial fires, lessons were learnt about how to properly ventilate buildings to protect them against serious fire and smoke damage. Two major fires in particular, at General Motors and Jaguar, highlight the issue. In both fires, the entire building was destroyed as firefighters were unable to enter the building due to the build-up of super-heated smoke.

This video, in which a test building with Colt smoke ventilation was set alight, demonstrates the benefits of a properly ventilated industrial building.


Colt begins its expansion into continental European markets through a joint venture with Braat Bowstoffen BV in the Netherlands and Belgium. In 1972 Colt it buys its joint venture partner out.

1960 - Healthier factories of the modern world

Industrial buildings, in particular where there was excessive production of heat, were regarded as unhealthy by those working inside them. High temperatures at working level affected the productivity of the workers, who often had to work in hot and poorly lit conditions.

Colt pioneered a scientific approach to dissipating heat and improving comfort in such buildings. Its ventilators released hot air through the roof, whilst simultaneously allowing natural light to reach those inside.


Colt enters the German market through the Netherlands joint venture, and later expands into Belgium, France, Austria and Switzerland.

1967 - I'm Backing Britain

1967 had been a gloomy year for Britain. In November the government announced that sterling was to be devalued, an enormous blow to the country’s economic prestige and morale. A month later Colt’s MD, Fred Price, issued his usual New Year message to the UK staff. Referring to the poor economic climate, he suggested that everyone could help by working an extra half-day a week without extra pay...


Colt sets up its Pegasus R&D and Test Centre in Kleve, Germany


The O’Hea family gifts Colt shares to establish the Colt Foundation, a registered charity that funds research projects in the field of occupational and environmental health, especially those aimed at discovering the causes of illnesses arising from conditions in the workplace. In its first 36 years of operation it has awarded more than £14.3 million in grants to over 200 projects and supported over 240 students studying some aspect of occupational health.


Colt develops a range of performance louvre and solar shading products to complement its ventilation products, extending the benefits of its energy efficient solutions.


Colt sets up subsidiaries in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Middle East, and joint ventures in Spain and Saudi Arabia


Colt launches Shadovoltaic, a combined solar shading, daylighting and electricity generating system for facades and roofs.


Colt acquires Braat Glasconstructies BV, enabling it to bid for combined ventilation and rooflight projects. In 2013 this business is sold to Hak4t Groep BV.


Colt invests in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). At this time it takes an average of 3 to 5 days to complete a simple simulation. Today a non-CFD expert can do the same job in only 30 minutes, using Colt ORCA, the online CFD tool.


Colt forms new companies in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.


Colt creates a subsidiary in France, buying out a local partner, to provide better service to its customers.


Colt creates new joint ventures in Portugal and Brazil, then in 2010 takes full ownership of the operation in Portugal.


Colt sets up its own wholly-owned company in China, Colt China Manufacturing Company Limited, to provide high-quality Colt products to the Asia-Pacific region.


Colt sets up a Limited Liability Company in Dubai to better serve customers in the region.


Colt wins an order for Emal, the world's largest, single-site smelter, to provide Labyrinth natural ventilators.


Colt Netherlands is awarded the contract to supply a complete glass roof including smoke and heat exhaust ventilators for the new public transport terminal in The Hague (Den Haag OVT).

From 2012

Colt introduces a new product portfolio of smoke ventilators with greatly improved thermal performance in compliance with customers’ requirements for increased energy savings, which include the Firelight Duo, Firelight FL3 and Airlite. To support this it develops Piatra, a new software package to demonstrate the choice of products affects their building’s energy performance and carbon footprint.


Colt Germany participates in the design and installation of the world’s first algae bio-reactor façade at the BIQ house in Hamburg as part of a research project. Subsequently in 2014 Colt wins the Zumbtobel Group Award for the best applied innovation.


Colt expands its CoolStream range for industrial, semi-industrial and commercial spaces featuring its proven evaporative cooling technology, which now comprises three families: CoolStream S that combines evaporative cooling with natural or mechanical ventilation, CoolStream N that combines it with natural ventilation through a façade, and CoolStream R that provides an “all-seasons” solution.


Colt invests in its manufacturing base in China, the CCMC factory, to rationalise manufacturing processes, increase production efficiency, reduce lead times and ensure consistent quality levels to the high standards of Colt facilities around the world. Colt is also expanding the range of products manufactured at the plant to serve customers in China, Australia, Asia and the Middle East.


Colt invests in its European manufacturing plants, upgrading the facilities, replacing assembly lines and progressed with the introduction of lean manufacturing practices to increase flexibility, efficiency and accuracy. The upgrades have included new production equipment, the reorganisation of the factories’ shopfloor with the participation of the workforce to ensure a more efficient process flow.


Colt participates in Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s visionary Smog Free Project. The Smog Free Tower, which was unveiled in Rotterdam, uses patented ion technology to produce smog-free bubbles of public space, allowing people to breathe and experience clean air for free. It cleans the air of ultra-fine smog, uses no more electricity than a water boiler, and runs on green energy. The Smog Free Project is not only intended to be a final local solution for clean parks, but also a sensory experience of a clean future.


Colt Eastern Europe celebrates its 10th anniversary. The team operates from offices in Prague, Czech Republic, Bratislava, Slovakia and Warsaw, Poland, with regional branches in Zlín and Košice. In its ten years of operation it has completed more than 2,500 projects in business and shopping centres, underground car parks, residential buildings, sports halls, warehouses, schools, theatres, hotels, office buildings, power stations and more, both in the home markets and abroad.


Colt Germany celebrates it's 50 year anniversary with a party attended by over 300 colleagues, ex-collegues and guests. A highlight of the festivites was a recorded speech by Jerome O'Hea which can be viewed here.


Colt obtains 100% ownership of Colt Spain. Originally established as a joint venture, Colt Spain became part of Colt's Continental Europe division.