Another little book for Novellas in November, and just still in their week of Nonfiction, and it also falls under Nonfiction November. Not the TBR project, though, as I acquired it after the cut-off date for that one. I bought it after seeing it mentioned on Facebook by a furniture restorer I follow: I love Utility furniture and have one piece myself, more on that below …

Jon Mills – “Utility Furniture”

(18 October 2021)

This is a facsimile of the 1943 Utility Furniture Catalogue with a long explanatory introduction by Mills.

When the Blitz of 1940 started to destroy homes and their contents faster than people could rebuild their lives, the government introduced Utility Furniture, plain, and using a minimum of materials in only a few designs, which was only available to newly married couples or people who had been bombed out and lost their possessions. There were just enough pieces to furnish a home, they came in one or two finishes and sometimes a couple of different styles. They were pretty sturdily constructed and I know of at least two other tallboys like my own that are still going strong!

The introduction lays out what happened when and explains the coupon system for getting hold of the furniture (at your most local shop only). There are great little reproductions of coupons, adverts and lists, most usefully a list of where in a piece of furniture the CC41 Utility Furniture stamp was to be applied.

The scheme only ended in 1952, and what I hadn’t realised was that the designs for the original ranges were sent abroad to countries that wanted to start a furniture industry – Sierra Leone, for example, was still producing it into the late 1950s.

Interestingly, my tallboy came in three different designs to match three different bedroom suites – this design, one with square panels with horizontal dividers on the doors, and then one with the vertical panels but also vertical handles on the drawers. I’d love to know if any of my readers have any Utility furniture, especially different styles of the tallboy!

A great little read, and I’m glad I promoted it up the pile because of Novellas in November!

My Utility tallboy (the checks are a reflection of the floor, not part of the decoration)

This was Book 5 in my Novellas in November challenge and part of Nonfiction November! And it was published by an independent publisher – Sabrestorm Books.