Mr Richard Hearne of Period Furniture Showrooms, Beaconsfield, was interviewed by Rosalie Bullock, a project volunteer. Mr Hearne explained that he works with his son, Nick, who is the sixth generation of the family involved in the furniture industry.
William Hearne, Mr Hearne’s great great grandfather, established a successful furniture-making business in 1840 which was later called Dancer and Hearne. Over the years, the business has evolved with changing timber markets and availability, technology and demand.
In 1938, 450,000 chairs were made by Dancer and Hearne, mainly in the Penn Street factory, while the Lindsay Avenue factory in High Wycombe concentrated on cabinets and dining tables.
Mr Hearne’s memories give a wonderful insight into the furniture trade. In the recording below, he explains all the craftsmen and tasks that were involved in the furniture trade – from the bodgers in the woods to the lorry driver taking the chairs away!
Mr Hearne has many supporting documents such as photos, diaries and business papers which add an extra dimension to his memories.
For example, Charles Howell earned 18 shillings for assembling four and a half dozen regular chairs – the common, standard chair made at the time. In addition to this, he made four regular arms and six children’s chairs earning a total weekly wage of one pound and 2 shillings.
Further down the page are details written on 28th June, 1879. On that day, Thomas Stiles received one pound three shillings and sixpence for his week's work. Mr Stiles made eighteen and a half dozen (222) bottoms. Also listed are 2 gross (288) of scrolls, which were incorporated into chairs, and 2 dozen ‘turned stands’ which remain obscure in meaning but for which Mr Stiles received three shillings.The full oral history interview with Mr Hearne is available on request from Rachel.
Sign up for our email newsletter to ensure you never miss out on news about the Chilterns, just enter your email address below.
Don’t forget, you can always follow us on our social media channels