Scaffolding: Past and Present

December 10, 2020


Over 17,000 years ago and with only the crude tools of the time, holes were made in the walls of the Lascaux caves in modern day France. These holes supported a type of ancient scaffold from which artists of the time created what would come to be known as the finest example of Palaeolithic art in all the world, now referred to as the Lascaux Cave Paintings. ​


The Sphinx in Egypt, The Washington Monument, Buckingham Palace, countless castles, monuments, buildings, bridges, aqueducts, arches, and more. They ALL have at least one thing in common. Scaffolding. Scaffolding has been used since man began building things out of reach. The scaffolding disappears as the project is completed, without it however there would never have been a project to begin with. Scaffolding plays a crucial role in the construction of the world around us, it is in many cases essential.

Scaffolding has evolved since it’s days in Lascaux 17,000 years ago, made out of whatever was available from bamboo shoots to timbers and everything in between. Modern day scaffolding came to be in the early 20th century and since then has remained largely the same.


Steel frames with wooden planks, steel bars for reinforcement, you get the picture we’ve all seen it. Over time it has been improved upon marginally, in the areas of safety and function but make no mistake; in North America we use scaffolding built on an early 20th century template.

Now you might say that the reason we still do it the 1920s way is because thats just the best way, sort of how a hammer is just a hammer. You’d be wrong however- the way we do it is not the best way. Also I’d bet the farm on you taking a 2019 hammer over the 1920 one.


Sledge hammers, heavy rusted frames, bent cross members, questionable planking, difficult to assemble. Check, check, check, check, check. These are all common features of modern day North American scaffolding, but they don’t have to be and they shouldn’t. Moreover these are all common reasons that those working at height who SHOULD be on scaffolds opt to instead use a ladder or worse a jerry-rigged solution.

Here at Gate Street we have become part of a different vision for scaffolding. A vision free of rust; lightweight yet extremely durable, totally modular, and intuitive in nature. A vision of safety, practicality, and usability. One which doesn’t involve rusty frames and bent cross members, no sledge hammers or needlessly complicated coupling mechanisms.


The future of scaffolding must continue to evolve as it has over centuries to become easier, longer lasting, and most importantly safer. As the exclusive North American distributor of Custers® aluminium scaffolding and work platforms we have seen close up and personally just how far behind North American scaffolding is.

Custers® has been around since 1901 and in the scaffolding business for over 40 years. This is not the scaffolding North Americans have become accustomed to, however it is the scaffolding they should be accustomed to; and over the coming weeks we will lay out precisely why that is the case.

Robotically welded tubular frames that never rust, made of high grade aluminum and manufactured in the Netherlands. Universal coupling mechanisms that take the guesswork out of assembly. Modular design which minimizes the number of separate components for any one system and as little as 1/3 the weight of traditional scaffolding.


Thats our vision for the future of North American scaffolding, one in which the Europeans aren’t decades ahead of us. One which is safer, more functional, and more efficient than what we have today.

Over the coming weeks we will lay out in this multi part series just how much better North America can do. Check back next week as we delve into the Custers® systems.

Until then take care,

​Operations Manager at Gate Street

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