The firm was owned by Durtnell family for 13 generations and thrived in projects mostly including heritage restoration.
It was founded in 1591 during the time of Elizabeth I. Back then, the company was specialized in building wood structures. In 1593, brothers John and Brian Durtnall constructed the Poundsbridge Manor, also called "The Picture House", a timber-framed home for their father William. The building is located near Brasted and is still standing.
The historic company struggled financially in the recent years. In 2017, the firm suffered an economic loss of about $850,000 stating that the economic conditions have become "very challenging".
The firm experienced cash flow issues and a $1.88 million fund was injected in 2018. The company's managers stated they are planning to implement a different strategy in order to reverse the situation. This approach included having "a smaller number of high-quality contracts, rather than a high volume of lower quality contracts". However, it was also revealed that another $810,000 debt, related with the firm's joinery business, which was recently stopped, had to be paid.
Eventually, R. Durtnell & Sons Company collapsed working on a $27,5 million renovation project of the Royal Pavilion Estate. “R Durtnell & Sons Ltd, the contractor working on the major refurbishment of Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre, has ceased trading. We have taken back the site and made it secure. We are committed to completing the refurbishment of these unique buildings to protect their long-term future in the cultural heart of the city. Over the coming days we’ll be exploring practical options for continuing and completing these essential restoration works as soon as possible and taking forward the wider Royal Pavilion Estate project,” the company's council stated.
Following the firm's failure, 108 people are going to be unemployed.