Early Billet bedside shelf.

One thing I have noted during my research and spotted on many early RAF images is a small bedside shelf that lays between beds in shared billets.  A predecessor of the 1950s bedside cupboard that turns up quite frequently, I didn’t think I would ever find one of these early bunk room pieces of furniture.  

Whilst trawling e bay however I came accross what I thought might be one.  Recognising the arched legs at the sides I took a punt and purchased it.  On collection I found the shelf in excellent condition.  Stained a dark brown as was the way with many RAF furniture and indeed military items, this shelf is stamped GRV for George the 5th and also with the makers mark HA&S and dated 1917.  Interestingly this stamp is on the top of the unit.  

Although not stamped with the Air Ministry markings, which can be explained by the pre RAF nature of the piece, it is of government issue and exactly the same as furniture in early photographs suggesting it could have been used by the RFC and then RAF once it formed.  

A Lovely and well loved item and one I will cherish.  This shelf came courtesy of  Innes wills and estate services. Their website is http://www.inneswills.co.uk and they are based near Huddersfield.

                  

Blackpool meets the Red Arrows.

To mark the opening of the new Sky Force ride at Blackpool Pleasure beach the Red Arrows put on a display at South shore by the promenade.  Myself, the better half and the better halfs mother took a few hours out from the decorating to pop and see them.  Wife to be took this awesome picture worthy of any pro photographer.  The essence of Blackpool and the Red Arrows in one shot.

  

Not Strictly AM but oh so so nice. – US folding chairs.

And Voila.  Here we have 3 US World War Two issued folding chairs.  An intricate and interesting folding mechanism allows these seats to fold flat and compact.  Unlike British wartime folding chairs these American chairs are a lot mor intricate and the attention to detail is great.  Detailing to the Legs and well engineered metal components and well constructed plywood seat sections make these chairs stand out.  These chairs were produced under contract by various companies.  Many were issued to the U.S. Forces.  Like British equipment that was stamped with government department marks such as AM for air ministry, items issued to the American forces were stamped with the U.S. Motif.  The main company producing these chairs was the American Seating Company from Grand Rapids which owned the patent for these chairs. Designed by and  Assigned to Walter N Ordmark on Oct 9 1941.  Two of these chairs have their signature on them.  the Royal Metal MFG company was another as can be seen by the signature of one of the chairs.  Lovely chairs that certainly stand out.  These were purchased in the UK after probably being left here following the cessation of WW2 and American forces leaving the UK for home.
   
        

Air Ministry Folding chairs.

As if by magic, when I was thinking I wouldn’t find any AM stamped folding chairs again, along come two at once.  Dug from an old boys loft these two have been well loved and looked after.  One chair has the 1940s WW2 era AM and kings crown paint/ink stamp Mark on the underside and the stores reference code 21B/890.  The other, dating from post war 1952 has the date etched into the chairs seat frame and also the AM and crown logo etched alongside.  It also has the stores reference number stenciled on the frame.  Two wonderful folding chairs showing the differences in markings from Wartime 1940s to the 1950s.

   

               

RAF station bell – 1943 Gillett and Johnston.

Here we have a 1943 AM stamped GIllett and Johnston station bell complete with original clanger and hanging bracket.

The Bell itself is stamped with the Gillett and Johnston motif  – G&J , ATW and crows foot symbol and the Air Ministry Crown and 1943 date.

G&J typically issued 8 such bells to each RAF station. Bells used by fire sections etc were painted black and ‘scramble’ bells as they became known or air raid warning bells issued to squadrons, were painted red.

Gillett and Johnston was established in 1844 by William Gillett, originally producing clocks. Arthur Johnston purchased a share in the company in 1877.  He eventually took full control of the company.  Between 1844 and 1950 the company produced more that 14,000 tower clock installations all made at their Croydon factory.  The company is still going strong to this day.

   
                

Air Ministry Stickback chair.

After a few failed attempts at auction to win a chair of this type I finally managed it via the dreaded e bay and hurrah the chair arrived today.  I first saw this type of chair in a photograph of an RAF class or office scene and also in a photograph of an early RAF billet.  Thinking that the chair format was too ornate for usual Air Ministry patterns I dismissed it but it stuck in the back of my mind and to my surprise it would appear that this chair pattern was purchased and adopted by the Air Ministry pre WW2.  Of a windsor style with Stickback supports and and arm runner going the full diameter of the chair, with turned legs and a H type stretcher the chair is really lovely and very comfortable to sit in. A real gem.  I only wish I had won the other two I bid on.

This chair dates to 1938.  Made by Haines of High Wycombe the chair epicentre of Great Britain back then.  The AM and crown stamp has as usual been burned into the underside of the base.  Although not amazingly clear in the picture, the AM can be seen as can the crown impression.  The makers signature and date are also on the underside.
   
           

RAF Squires Gate – Sunny Blackpool

Having moved back to Gods country from lovely old Brussels and having some time on my hands after incurring a slight injury at work I thought I would go for a small wander to escape my bed and the house for a while. 

Down the road on the Southern edge of Blackpool is what was Blackpool airport and in a former life, RAF Squires gate.

The aerodrome was requisitioned by the Air Ministry in 1938.Three bituminous runways were laid to support operations, with squadrons stationed at RAF Squires Gate during the Second World War including:

  • 63 Squadron September 1939 to January 1940
  • 75 Squadron, September 1939 to January 1940
  • 215 Squadron, September 1939 to January 1940
  • No. 96 Squadron
  • No. 256 Squadron

RAF Coastal Command also established an operational base on site, and expanded RAF Warton to act as a satellite airfield.

The RAF also selected Blackpool as one of its training wings due to the availability of accommodation. With training based between Squires Gate and RAF stations at Weeton and Kirkham, by utilising: the large number of guest houses; plus the beaches, pier and the Winter Gardens for exercising; 769,673 recruits received their basic training at Blackpool. The RAF also established two specialist training schools:

  • No. 3 School of General Reconnaissance
  • No. 5 School of Technical Training, for air mechanics


My Grandfather was trained at Blackpool during the war during his stint as an airframe fitter.

Below are some pictures of an Accommadation block and pill boxes that still remain standing and Squires gate.

    

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  


Farewell Brussels ✈️ Hello Weeton

Well, after two glorious years in Belgium and the metropolis that is Brussels, myself and the better half have finally repacked our bags – 2 huge van loads this time – and moved back over to Weeton near Blackpool and in with the inlaw.  Exciting, stressful, scary and interesting times ahead await us for sure but one thing is for sure – the collecting will go on.  Near to my lock up now all the time and with a freshly cleared out out house to repair any damaged pieces of furniture I’m so looking forward to getting started.  Air Ministry here I come.