“I say old bean, what a smell. Time for a wash me thinks ” -RAF Wash bowl and water jug.

After much searching and scratching my head to find both items in this pairing, the usual suspect in the form of David Farnsworth of the Historic Flying Clothing company (www.historicflyingclothing.com)came up trumps and provided me with this beautiful pre war RAF water jug that would have been used in conjunction with the colossal wash bowl I purchased some time ago.  With a beautiful gilt winged crest and gilding to the handle and rim, this jug I am sure you will agree would have looked just the ticket in an officers mess.  




Two years ago I started to collect old Air Ministry station furniture. After seeing some clocks at the home of David Farnsworth of the historic flying clothing company whilst I was collecting an RAF wash stand from him, my attention turned to RAF clocks.  This interest was further expanded when I met Bob Gardner of Aeroclocks and from that day a friendship and mentorship was started.  Bob was happy to pass on his knowledge for which I am eternally grateful.  In May, after Bob expressed a desire to retire, I purchased the clock side of Aeroclocks and his remaining clocks.  I am extremely proud to have been extended this opportunity by Bob and look forward to carrying on the Aeroclocks reputation and business.  Bob will carry on to trade as Aeroclocks selling his well known book and I will shortly be publishing my website airministrybybuttons.co.uk where I will be selling RAF mantel clocks, wall clocks and Air Ministry furniture and station items.  Further updates on the progress of the site will follow shortly. 

Time to spread my wings.

After amassing a small mountain of RAF and Air Ministry wartime furniture and station oddities for a couple of years now, the realisation that I have far too much and morphed into my mother and become a hoarder has hit home. I would need a small mansion to house all my items and after a fun filled wedding I have come back down to earth and sorted myself a commercial unit from which to turn my hobby and hoarding into a business of sorts.  I have taken on a small 370sqft unit to allow me to store and work on my collection ready to sell. Items range from station clocks, desks, lockers, wash stands, chairs down to cutlery and crockery.  A new website and online store is soon to follow called airministrybybuttons.co.uk once I hit land from being away working. Here are a few pics of the new office. 


Project number 1 – 1939 SM&Co small mantle clock.

I recently acquired this SM&Co small mantel clock.  The poor old thing is in slightly worse for wear condition. The solve ring on the dial has completely gone and at some point red paint was applied to the dial as there are remnants in the crown etching.  The movement is also grubby.  The case is however in great condition so I am going to carry out my first restoration and have the clock overhauled.  I will re silver the dial, clean and service the movement and re build.  I will pop on some pictures soon of the restored clock.  In the meantime here are some ‘before’ pictures. 


Present from the new Mrs Bell

In her panic to order me a pocket watch for my wedding present, the better half bought me two Air Ministry watches. The first one here is a pocket watch produced by Pringle in 1941 as denoted by the stores reference code stamped on the clock reverse. The AM and crown motif is also present.  The 6E reference indicates that this watch was supplied to ground engineers.  

The watch is missing its glass and doesn’t work at the moment but this is something that will be rectified.  A lovely little watch which made me smile.


Wedding Bells for the Buttons

Well after two years of planning and excitement myself and the better half were finally joined in matrimony and the amazing Aynhoe Park.  Pictures will follow as soon as Kate Hopewell-smith our photographer gets our pics ready but as a snippet here are a few of the venue and yip you guessed it, even an RAF mantel clock made an appearance.


Early 7779 Elliot springer movement.

After buying an Elliot fusee movement on eBay some time ago from a chap near me, much to my delight he emailed me again offering me another Elliot movement.  This time, although it isn’t a fusee movement it is an early example of the 7779 movement found in Type 3 dial clocks produced by Elliot in the late 40s and 50s.  This example interestingly is dated 1942 and comes with a square/rectangular movement body instead of the usual tapered example in many a Type 3.  Research by Bob Gardner of Aeroclocks suggests that some movements existed with square plates but a reason why is not known.  This example with its early date and straight body makes this movement somewhat rarer and more interesting than the norm.


Elliot 1941 White Dial wall clock.

Here we have a 1941 dated Elliot White Dial wall clock.  Made to the typical 14″ size of dial face and in quality oak, the clock is in original in touched condition.  The RAF motif as with so many of these clocks has been removed.  The original tone down finish for the period has also been removed presumably over the decades however remnants of paint to the bezel can still be seen.  The movement is stamped with the usual Elliot signature and Air Ministry attributed serial number and date of 1941.  The back box is also stamped 1941 and the Elliot signature can be faintly seen above this.  The clock is missing its pendulum and there is a slight scratch to the glass.  All in all a lovely clock as is always the way with those produced by Elliot.  


Wedding bell favours.

Not to be outdone by my better half on the wedding favour stakes I have set my stall and plumbed for vintage items for my wedding favours.  I had originally thought about packaging them up in ammo boxes but then David Farnsworth of the Historic Flying Clothing Company suggested these lovely Air Ministry marked Microphone assembly boxes.  Originally containing 4 such items these lovely boxes are just the right size for my favours and are in keeping with my love of anything Air Ministry.  Constructed of thick card and stapled, the now worn boxes and rusty staples look just the part. Such items and many more amazing RAF items can be found at :



Ex government/military chair

On a trip up to my parents bolt hole at the furthest flung reaches of North West Scotland I came across the first military item of furniture I bought.  It was a 1942 stickback chair, stamped underneath with the makers name and the 1942 date along with the monogram if GVIR that was applied to pretty much anything military during the 1920s right up to our fair queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952-3.   Unlike RAF furniture that was stamped with the AM and crown logo for the Air Ministry, government furniture or that issued to the Army would be simply have the current monarchs monogram on most occasions so helping identify RAF from Army items.  This is something that can be seen with RAF furniture and clocks.

The chair itself is in amazing condition and very solid. A lovely grain on the chair is visible too.

Now stuck at my parents I think it is safe to say I will never get it back. Damn my generosity! 


Time for tea sir?

Like buses that always seem to disappear then come along two at once, here are a couple of RAF teaspoons I stumbled upon recently.  The humble teaspoon like the simple cutlery knife is incredibly rare in its lesser spotted RAF guise so seeing two in a short span of time is too good an opportunity to let pass by.  Both exhibiting lovely RAF crests signifying their 1930s origins (later cutlery simply being stamped AM) these two spoons are in lovely condition for their age.




Smiths Astral Movement

On a recent trip to visit Bob Gardner I noticed sitting on a shelf this lovely Astral movement by Smiths. Produced in 1942 and stamped as such and exhibiting a lovely AM motif I couldn’t help asking if it was for sale.  To my surprise it was .  The movement is in non-running condition but as a tiny exhibition piece it truely is lovely.  

Smiths produced clocks for the RAF after winning the contract from Elliot and SM&Co and produced clocks using the Astral movement instead of the Fusee style that the other companies had adopted.  Their clocks are of far poorer quality due to the austerity of the war.  Dials are of a thinker grade metal, usually tin and their cases are normally made of ply. At some point I will find such a clock to highlight the differences.  

Thanks again to Bob for a great day.


RAF Hospital Clock

Here we have an SM&Co made small mantle clock.  Dated 1939 on the movement the clock retains its pendulum lock.  The clock case has been painted white by the RAF for use in a hospital or medical centre on an RAF station.  The clock is in stunning condition and makes a lovely alternative to the usual wooden finish of other RAF pattern clocks.





Grimshaw Large mantle clock.

Here is a simply stupendous large mantle clock produced in 1936 by clockmakers Grimshaw.  The clock itself is in amazing condition apart from the dial glass which was sadly smashed during transit by the courier and is currently away to be replaced hence the missing bezel.  Written on the inside of the door is the later stores code applied in the 1950s.

An amazing clock showing brilliant craftsmanship , an amazing grain to the wood and lovely detailing to the dial.


Stockhall and marple Large Mantel clock.

I recently purchased two more Large mantel clocks, both of which are in stunning stunning condition.  The first one is an example produced  by SM&Co in 1939.  The movement bears the serial number 10605 followed by company signature then date and AM and crown motif.

The case is in stunning condition and the dial is still nicely silvered.  

There isn’t really much more that can be said of these clocks other than Wowsers!  

In a previous post I featured another large mantel clock also produced by SM&Co.  The case for this one is now away being restored due to its poor condition .  If it returns in the same condition as this one then I shall be extremely happy. 


Elliot type 3 wall clock.

Towards the end of ww2,whilst austerity still existed, the RAF obtained sufficient funds to purchase the Elliott 7779 clock.  This had an oak case and a springer rather than fusee movement. By omitting the fusee to equalise the torque in the spring, the movement would run for 12 days with accurate time keeping for the first 8.  

The movement type is not the only difference with earlier Elliot type 1 clocks.  The hands were also of a different style.  The rear box was smaller to cater for the smaller tapered springer movement. The box was also screwed down rather than pegged. Movements were also numbered but not date stamped. 

According to Bob Gardner or aeroclocks, serial number ran from 1311 to 9347 suggesting a run of some 8000 clocks.

Below is an example of a type 7779 clock that I acquired recently at auction.

In un-restored condition and as was, the RAF emblem on the dial has been wiped off but its footprint can still be clearly seen. Returning this emblem is on my to do list.  In great condition just needing a little tlc. 


1941 Elliot type 1 wall clock.

Here is my latest purchase.  A 1941 dated Elliot movement and case.  The case is faintly stamped in the top left corner with made by F W Elliot and the number 19. Presumably the year would have been stamped alongside.  The dial face is in worn original condition with paint crazing and discolouration.  Blued hands and well made hinge on the bezel are also in place.   The bezel itself has also had the tone down finish applied as per regulations of the time.  

A lovely clock in great original condition.



Typical just typical.  Today I left for my next trip offshore and as  Sod’s law would have it, my newest find arrived at the house.  Luckily my better half took receipt of it from our very kind neighbours who had received it earlier in the day.  

Here we have a 1938 dated FW Elliot small mantle clock, movement serial 4004 in un-restored condition.  In excellent preservation I am told by the wife to be.  The pendulum lock is still present, the dial is in good worn condition, and overall it is a lovely example.



I recently purchased this item from gumtree but have no idea what it would be used for.  I think it is a bathroom item as it is of the white China with gold gilting that also follows with the large wash basins and jugs associated with an officers mess. Any help with identifying what it is would be very welcome.

Anyway it is a lovely item made of fine china with gilt to the top edge and a kings crown RAF motif to the centre. In lovely condition and no doubt about to be used as a flower vase by my better half.



After seeing this clock in an auction site I took a wild stab at it and popped an absentee bid in.  Having never seen a large mantle clock close up I didn’t quite realise what a beast they are. Well I collected it today (don’t tell the misses sssssh) and boy was I shocked.  Standing some 18 inches tall it has an amazing presence.  Erroneously called the ‘sgts mess clock’  these large bracket clocks were made to a government design that had been in existence since the 19th century.  

This clock, dated 1939 and produced by SM&Co has seen better days yet is still running and in original un fettered with condition. A light rub with a duster and some polish helped bring it back to life. Inside the rear door is an original stores sticker. 


Long day? Time to take a pew.

Recent scraping around antiques fayres, auctions and jumble sales I came across these two chairs.  Following the same pattern as earlier Captains style chairs and stickback chairs these two chairs are both good examples and still sturdy.

The stickback chair came from a barn near Canbridge. As I was collecting it as if by fate, the Vulcan on one of its last flights flew over. A real treat.  Stamped with a lovely AM and crown and the famous makers name of E Gomme of high Wycombe . Stamped with the year 1940 so a real piece of history.

The captains chair with bulbous leg detail is also stamped with the AM and crown logo and a makers name along with 38 for the year of production.

Lovely chairs that would look even better with a quick polish.


SM&Co white dial type 1 clock.

A recent little jolly with the better half to Aynhoe Park our wedding venue, led us to Abingdon to collect a clock I recently won at auction. 

Here is a 1939 dated type 1 Air Ministry stamped white dial clock.  The dial has at some point been re painted minus the RAF crest however the dial is the correct 14″ size and the movement is correctly engraved with SM&Co markings and Air Ministry crown and serial number. The number corresponds to research done by Bob Gardner for the year 1939.  The back box is also 1939 and Air Ministry stamped. There is also a lovely RAF repair label stuck to the back box movement door. All in all this is a lovely clock in running order.


1 shot or 2 sir?? Officers Mess Cup.

Who needs Costa or Starbucks. Back in the 1930s and 40s, officers in the RAF knew how to take their brew.  Here we have a tiny Bone China cup and Saucer. One of a set of six, the cups were produced by George Jones and Sons which worked out of the Crescent pottery. The company ceased trading in 1951. The saucers however were produced by Royal Doulton. One of Royal Doultons subsidiary companies was Mintons. Interestingly the George Jones and Sons Crescent pottery was situated directly behind the Minton factory in Stoke on Trent. 

The cup and saucer is in lovely condition with the gilding in excellent condition and blue still vibrant. The motifs on both cup and saucer are correct with kings crown and RAF lettering surrounded by the laurels. Dating to the 1930s these are really lovely items that would have graced an RAF stations officers mess. 


RAF Crosby-on-Eden chair.

Whilst out for a wander around what’s left of some of the old buildings of RAF Crosby-on-Eden I stumbled upon this chair hiding away in an old air raid shelter.

After a dust off and a good clean it has come up trumps and looks wonderful.  Still showing the AM markings underneath too and the stores reference code. It is a little wobbly but still more than capable of holding a chap or chapess. 

Oh and that’s Elvis the resident feline by the way. 



Here we have another RAF wash basin and stand. Not dissimilar to one I recorded in a previous post. Produced in 1932 as can be seen by the date stamp on the rear panel frame.  The rear panel is also stamped GVR for George the fifth. 

The sink has at some time been painted green on the inside.  At some point I will strip this back to return it to original condition.  The lid support bracket is also missing and the Handel to open the cabinet to the front has been removed and replaced by a non standard white knob.  I will remove and hopefully replace these items at some point.  

Still in excellent condition I will post some pictures of the restored item in the near future.


EC&W RAF Small mantel clock

And Voila, here is my latest purchase.  By sheer luck I stumbled upon this clock in an Aladins cave of clocks.  The location of which will remain hush hush for the time being.  

This clock was produced by the English Clock and Watch manufacturers Ltd.  Formed by H Williamson Ltd when it merged with Grinshaw, Baxter and JJ Elliot after FW Elliot left in 1921.  

This clock is a few mil different in size compared to the Elliot made clocks and has different hands.  The dial has a gold tint and the winged crest is heavily engraved and wax filled.

The case has a crack running up it, probably the result of sitting above a radiator or fire at some point.  It doesn’t detract from the overall condition of the clock. 

On the underside of the clock are stamped the markings EC&W (the w not quite complete) and crown and GRV letters for George the Fifth. Also stamped is the date 1927.

The movement is also marked EC&W and has the serial number 66586.

A lovely clock that illustrates the history and progression of RAF small mantle clocks in the years leading up to the domination of Elliot and SM&Co.


Time for a tidy up

Alas my hoarding of RAF items has got out of hand.  Tidying up my lockup I realised that I now have 4 type 1 white dial clocks and 3 small mantel clocks.  What is a guy to do with that many clocks?  With wedding bills mounting I think the time has come to sell some.  If anyone is interested, feel free to give me a shout.


1935 Elliot small mantel clock case.

In my hunt for anything Air Ministry I came across this mantel clock case. Although the movement was sadly not present and the rear door panel had been replaced by a hideous brass mesh (which I have removed) I thought it was still a lovely item especially as it is stamped with the AM logo and 1935 date making it less common than later Elliot mantel clocks.  1935 was the first year of RAF expansion.  Around 700 Elliot clocks were made that year which is a small amount compared with the numbers produced in the years to come. Later Elliot cases were also often unmarked. 

The case itself is in excellent condition. Although someone has at some point fitted some handles to the side and finials to the top so small holes now exist.  The dial face is also in great original condition. With the original key and lock too.  The push button to release the bezel works perfectly. A lovely case, fit for restoration with a similar movement or just as a stand alone piece. 



A few weeks ago whilst going about my merry way erecting a marquee, my phone rang. It was Ewbanks auctions down on the south coast calling about a phone bid on a clock I’d seen.  Needless to say I’d forgotten about it.  Bidding had commenced and after a few panicked bids of my own, the clock was mine.  Now all I needed to do was keep it quiet from the better half.  So sssssssh don’t tell her.  Anyway, the clock arrived yesterday. Sitting with all my other items I don’t think she has realised yet. 

For your viewing pleasure I have purchased a 1941 stamped, Elliot single fusee movement, 14″ white dial clock with RAF crest.   The clock is in original condition with a lovely yellowing dial face with some crazing and cracking to the paint and some deterioration around the usual movement feet location.  The case is in untouched condition.  The rear of the case has usual paint runs associated with the RAF redecorating but not bothering to remove the clock from the wall beforehand.  The rear has a crack to it but it just adds to the character. There isn’t a makers mark stamp on the back box although from 1941 onwards this practice was rarely done.  The bezel has been blackened in line with the tone down standard introduced in 1942.  The hinge is also a properly finished example and not an untidy example of using whatever hinge they could lay their hands on.  

This is a lovely clock in original condition that will certainly look good on any wall. 


Good lord, Amen for Armitage Shanks!

Today in our lovely modern world I’m sure we forget how times have changed for even the simple things.  Here is a chamber pot, used in days gone by by the RAF.

Stamped with the RAF logo to the front this large ironstone China chamber pot was made by Ashworth Brothers.

Presumably used in RAF hospitals or barracks, it is in lovely condition with only minor crazing.