War Department Folding Wooden Chair

Many period photographs of British troops relaxing in messes or sitting in briefing rooms show the rooms to be furnished with simple wooden folding chairs:untitledThese folding chairs are still produced today (IKEA I am told do a very similar example), and were popularly used at the time in schools, churches and village halls. I have recently been fortunate enough to find a War Department stamped example, as used by the military:imageThe advantage these chairs had was that they could be folded flat and stacked out of the way when not needed:imageNote how the seat has nine slats on it, other examples can be found with eight slats but this seems to have no further significance than being a design change by the various manufacturers. The rear of the chair shows the long metal bar that acts as a sturdy hinge for the various parts of the chair:imageAs can be seen there is a multitude of markings on the underside of the chair, with a /|\ mark indicating military ownership, and a date of 1942:imageThe Royal Cypher ‘G VI R’:imageAnd a manufacturer’s stamp ‘J Williams (High Wycombe) Ltd’:imageThere is also a stencilled ‘12’ that may or may not be military in origin:imageThese chairs carried on in use after the war and found new lives in school rooms and village halls for many years. I have been looking for one of these for a while, but this is the first marked example I have found. The chair has had some punishment over the years, as there is clear evidence of period repairs:imageThe 1942 Regulations of Equipment of the Army lists in ‘Section KA (Misc office Eqpt etc)’ Chairs, folding, flat. which may or may not be the chair depicted above. We are on safer ground in the 1946 ‘VAOS J1 (Camping eqpt)’ which lists Chairs, G.S. as we have a photograph:Dsc01653a_zps6c88c520These chairs can also be found with Air Ministry markings and seem to have been used universally across all services. The general soundness opf the design is indicated by the fact that they are still manufactured to a near identical design seventy five years later.

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