Whilst in the early 18th century, it was normal for surplus wood from local beechwoods to be sold to London carpenters, improvements in road transport enabled local craftsmen to assemble furniture and chairs to sell on the London market. The pioneers of this trade were described in Amersham parish registers as turners, for their skill was in turning chair legs on treadle-operated pole lathes, easily constructed and accommodated in the crudest wooden lean-to. Even larger workshops, where some sort of production line could be arranged, required little investment. Women and children also found employment in making the seats of cane chairs. Lumbering carts, piled high with cheap but durable chairs, set off daily for London. Although the trade never developed to the extent of that in High Wycombe, it did prompt the compiler of the Amersham entry in Pigot’s Directory of 1822 to remark that “considerable employment is found in manufacturing chairs for exportation”. He listed five chairmakers, these being the master craftsmen, who must have employed many more, either on their own premises, or as outworkers.

The 1851 census enables us to find the names of 16 Coleshill chairmakers. Samson Toovey of Coleshill Green employed 14 journeymen. David Hatch set up his chair factory at Hollands Dean, near the Queens Head Inn, Whielden Gate, about 1850. The business passed to his son Joseph Hatch and from him to his son Joseph David Hatch, who was still taking chairs to London on his own cart in the 1920s. The business was sold to the Dunmore Borthers about 1939. The buildings were destroyed by fire in the early 1950s.

Another family which produced several generations of chair makers was the Pursey family, who ran the Plough Inn. It was their small chair factory behind Cherry Tree Cottage which was the nucleus of the present day Securon seat belt factory at Winchmore hill.


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