Hurrah at last Russell my courier arrived with my latest finds. Here is the first item, a stunning 14″ white dial RAF station clock. In untouched original condition. The movement is dated 1941 and made be Elliott. The box and case are dated 1938 suggesting a marriage at some point when being repaired. The back box itself has a beautiful AM and crown stamp to the top left corner and also fantastically has retained a stores sticker applied post war and also the often seen stores reference numbers and ‘R’ symbol with correct code for a white dial clock stencilled on in white paint. All lovely original markings that add to the history of the clock. The bezel is painted in the regular black tone down finish too. This one is a keeper I think.
Yesterday I arrived home from work offshore knowing I had been a bad boy with regards to my spending. Today the fruits of my off shift antics became a reality when 3 large parcels arrived at my house. Inside each box was a solitary Small mantle clock. And here they are. This time I managed to get myself on a stunning 1927 EC&W powered clock, a 1939 Elliott and gorgeous 1936 SM&Co clock interestingly also stamped with a Royal Observer corps reference number stamped on the underside. See snaps below.
Much to my wife’s dismay, not long after we moved a bit further north, the spare room has already become a dumping ground of sorts for the clocks I keep buying. In just a few weeks I’ve aquired another 4 and there’s another on its way. I think I may need help! Here we have a 1939 Elliott operations room clock, a 1936 SM&Co White dial, 1939 Elliot white dial, and 1938 Elliott small mantel clock all in original condition.
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.
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 :
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a little milk jug I picked up at auction. Finely made from vine china with blue trim and gold gilt work this little hug would have once graced an RAF station officers mess. Wonderful for that afternoon tea break. Marked to the front with RAF and kings crown motif and produced by George Jones and sons. One tiny chip to the spout sadly.
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.
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.
Browsing the-saleroom I stumbled upon yet another RAF captains chair. After some enquiries the auctioneer confirmed the presence of some markings underneath and seeing the regular style of leg that conforms to Air Ministry production I popped a bid on and won. happy days! This one has a slightly rougher but more frequently seen impressed AM and crown along with a 1940 date and makers mark. It has some slight damage but is still dry sturdy and retains much of its original dark stain.
After a wee whiley of looking I finally stumbled upon a large RAF station bell, or ‘scramble’ bell as they are more affectionately known. Weighing an absolute tonne I have no idea how these things were ever supported safely. It is however an amazing item. Stamped with, and I say that in the loosest form as the engraving is very crisp and sharp, the AM and crown motif and 1938 date. On the crown shaped hanger are the letters ATW and the government issue crows foot arrow marking. If any one can enlighten me as to what ATW represents then feel free to give me a shout. The bell sadly is minus the clanger but in the recesses of the crown hanger can still be seen some of the red paint that this bell would have been coloured with at one time. The inside of the bell also has a liberal splash of white paint. A really lovely and collectible item. Something I have been looking for for quite some time. If I can’t mount it anywhere due to the colossal weight and not wanting to rip a wall down in my flat, it may come in handy as a random door stop! Like many nowadays sought after items of RAF wartime artefacts, these bells were largely removed from RAF stations in the 50s and 60s and casually discarded for scrap, much like many a bracket and wall clock. Criminal when you think about it today.
Here we have a lovely bracket clock dated to 1938 and produced by FW Elliot. Just like my other bracket clock made by Stockall Marple and Co, this has been produced to the same Air Ministry Pattern and would have lived out its working life in an officers mess on an RAF station. Full of character and in excellent condition, these clocks were thrown out in their hundreds after the war and following changing pattern requirements by the Air Ministry in RAF. How things have changed with these clocks quite well sought after.
Recently and quite by mistake I placed a bid on an AM hand bell I saw at auction via the-sale room.com. Completely forgetting about it much to my shock some weeks later it turned out I had won it. This bell has at some point been painted red, presumably used as a fire bell on a station. Stamped on the handle collar is a lovely AM and crown motif and also the contract number with 1940 date. The varnish has come away slightly on the handle but overall condition is excellent and boy what a noise it makes.
I am looking to sell this as I have one already. If anyone is interested please just mail me. I am looking for £100 for it.
I was looking through my photo albums on the ipad today and I came across some pictures I took of the first Air Ministry item of furniture I bought. This was the chair that got me hooked on the history and background of old furniture from the RAF. I purchased this chair and a further 7 just like it from a young lad in Bromley, London who had bought them from the Air Cadets at Biggin Hill. Seeing these on his blog I was a little dubious as to their history as items from Biggin Hill often appear on the interweb which are nothing but fakes or telling porkies about their past. By putting ‘Biggin Hills’ good name to items inflates many an items value. But after some enquiries they turned out to be just what he described them as. From the cadets at Biggin Hill. They had been gifted them by the station when it closed down and in order to make space they subsequently sold them on. Anyway. After getting the chairs home, I set about repairing them. Most of them were far from immaculate and the years had not treated them well. Much of the Vynide coverings on them had been torn, ripped and damaged so I took the decision to strip all but two – which are still ok – to restore them, keeping as much of the original parts as possible. Vynide is no longer made as a covering but I have found a company that still makes the exact material, just not with all the nasty chemicals in. On stripping them down I also came accross the AM marking stamped into the frame. And so began my fascination! All the chairs have this stamping and 1944 date inked on. The chairs were produced by the Scottish Co-operative wholesale society.
I am currently waiting on a re-upholsterer to start work to restore them to their former glory. All the spring bodies are in good order and will be re-used with only fabric coverings and padding etc being replaced. I even kept all the original tacks to hopefully salvage some of them for re-use.
Anyway here are some snaps.q apologies for the scruffy house in the background!
Whilst perusing google images for all things Air Ministry whilst the good lady was at work, I came across a tiny image of a small mantel clock that I had not seen before. Clicking on it up popped a link with a clock for sale from http://www.seaside-gallery.co.uk. I took a punt and e mailed to see if the clock was still for sale and to my shock, it was. Up until now every clock I have found on the inter web has been sold. After a quick conversation with the owner, John Churchill I reserved the clock and after planning a christmas shopping trip to the UK, myself and the good lady swung by Bexhill to collect the clock. Safe to say I am rather chuffed with the purchase. My interest in getting a clock started when I saw a couple (sadly not for sale) whilst collecting my washbasin (see earlier post) from David Farnsworth at the historic flying clothing company. After getting home I did some research and came across a book by Bob Gardner called ‘a history of clocks in the RAF’. After some swatting up and realisation that the market place is full of knock offs I started to tread carefully. After sending some snaps to Bob Gardner he didnt raise any concerns and added the serial number of the clock to his database, so I took a plunge and purchased it.
This clock was produced by Stockall Marples and Co in 1939. SM&Co produced a batch of small mantel clocks in 1938 that ran until 1939. That run ended with clock number 11379. There was another couple of smaller runs then a large final batch from clock numbers 12734 to 12781. As Bob Gardner notes in his book, no more mantel clocks were produced SM&Co for the RAF after this date. My clock has the serial number 12755. The clock retains its pendulum lock as can be seen in the pictures. Elliot, another company that produced small mantel clocks for the RAF, ceased fitting these after 1935. The serial number, date and AM crown are all nicely engraved into the movement case. There is also an ‘M’ and crown stamped on the lip of the door aperture at the back. Presumably it was made by an AM stamp, but the whole logo couldn’t be fitted on the thin lip. (See pictures). Also on the base is stamped SM&Co and 1939 and AM. The dial is still in good condition and the correct hands are present. All in all a lovely clock that I feel privileged to own and cherish.
I came across this RAF handbell in an auction recently. The cast brass bell is topped with a brass collar with AM and kings crown symbol and contract number dating it to 1939. A lovely turned ebony handle finishes it off. With its original ball and chain clapper boy oh boy does it make an amazing sound. In all honesty I have no idea what situation this would be used for, perhaps roll calls, lessons etc. a lovely piece that looks great.
Here is a ‘captains’ style chair with the AM stamp and 1939 date. The chair appears to have been stripped back to bare wood as this would not be the finish normally associated with a government issue piece. Dark stain usually the colour of the day. The joints are a little wobbly and some damage to the back rest is present and has been poorly repaired. However it is still sturdy and solid. A very rare piece to find. The legs are a particular style/pattern and are very unlike most other captains chairs you see around. I have only seen one other example in the last year. I am going to get this chair professionally restored/repaired to return it to its once former glory.
Just a couple of hours ago I acquired this architects desk and tall chair. Made out of lovely wood and angled by a huge metal bracket at either side it certainly fills my living room. After some effort and a lot of struggling up 6 flights of stairs all on my lonesome I managed to shoe horn the chair into the flat. The chair interestingly has the GVIR monogram and crown symbol underneath. It also has a date stamp of 1940 and makers initials although in the fading light of Brussels I am struggling to make that out. It’s the better halts Birthday today. Waiting for her to come home from work and see the monster in the corner is somewhat nerve racking. Anyway, the pair are a lovely addition and keeping to the theme of government furniture, the tall and unusual chair tops it off.
Tomorrow I’m popping back to Blighty, and as a treat and all going well I’m picking up a captains chair with the air ministry symbol underneath! I’ll pop some pics up shortly of that. I’ve also just invested in an Elliot small mantel clock from 1939 so really looking forward to seeing that.
Here is a set of 1942 dated RAF issue Pyjamas. A jacked part and bottoms made of striped cotton I presume. The bottoms are tied with a drawstring and the top is buttoned up. Really nice feel to them and a smart striped pattern. The top has the usual WD and arrow emblem and letter O above denoting it was issued in 1942. Presumably these were never actuall given out as the large stamp next to it denotes a 1955 date too so possibly re issued. The bottoms also have the 1955 RAF stamp in red and to the left can be seen a lovely although faint AM and crown motif.
For anyone dating WD marked items with a letter prefix rather than a date, the following letters represent the following years.
Her we have a wicker waste paper basket from the 1940s. Beautifully made and very sturdy and of a typical design for the time. On the base are painted the nominal GRVI monogram as per all government issue items. Extraordinary how even the simplest thing like a waste paper bin are marked up. The search continues for an Air Ministry marked one. Maybe one day I hope! This example as ever came from David Farnsworth at http://www.historicflyingclothing.com
Another example has been commandeered by my girlfriend as the new home for her wrapping paper. I found this one with Sally at http://www.shakespearesvintage.co.uk
Here I have a lovely China cup made by Rhenania of Duisdorf Germany. The cup was made for the Malcolm clubs which served the RAF. Malcolm clubs first appeared in Algiers in 1943. The Americans had taken over a large building in the middle of the city and turned it I to a welfare centre run by the Red Cross ladies. Both US and British troops used it but as it became more popular and space limited, it became an American only enterprise. Lord Tedder who was an officer in the RAF at the time was concerned that this would affect his men so he asked the senior command if the N.A.A.F.I could set something up in town. The request was declined. Then in stepped Eisenhower. He was concerned about the issue too so asked a lady working for him to look into it. That lady later married and became Mrs Tedder. Soon after, the first Malcolm club was established. They became a home from home for airmen and the likes.
The very names of the countries through which the clubs passed is an outline of the history of the Air Force during the war: North Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya and Japan. Then through Italy, up the East coast into Austria, up to Vienna, to a little club there at Schwechat, where there was a handful of men working an aerodrome isolated in the middle of the Russian 728 Zone. We kept that club going for over two years. Then, in Normandy, there was the first British club on the Continent on D plus 51 at Crevilly; and then to Belgium, Holland, Germany, and up to Gatow, in Berlin. At one time in Germany there were twenty-two clubs.
The clubs closed in the 1950s due to funding issues after Germany incresed 4 fold it’s labour bills. A great history of the clubs can be found at
This cup came courtesy of David Farnsworth at the Historic Flying Clothing Company. Check out his website at http://www.historicflyingclothing.com
Here is an old target map used by RAF aircrew in the war.34 x 48cm.
April 1942 dated. R.A.F. Target Map No.6 (d) (vi) 95, Railway Marshalling Yard, Stettin, Germany. Scale 1 :63.360. Intelligence map of the marshalling yards at Settin. Marked with concentric rings around the centre of the target, each ring being 1 mile apart. Marked in chinagraph pencil to top left corner ‘Dummies’ and with 4 red circles. Also marked with map coordinates.
Lovely old piece that I’m going to frame and pop on my wall.