Cane or Wicker? The Lloyd Loom chair

You’ve probably seen them in conservatories or as part of an outdoor furniture range but the style of the Lloyd Loom dining chairs are now considered a design classic and the very early versions, if you can get one, have moved into the Antique bracket and not just simply vantage. Lloyd Loom chairs were the brainchild of Marshall B Lloyd in 1917. His approach was simple. He took Kraft paper and twisted it based on the design of a wicker woven chair. This paper was more hygienic and easier to clean plus it had many other advantages that made it perfect for the transatlantic and pleasure cruise industry. It was also used in the fledgling Zeppelin flights. The reason it was used is that it had a great resistance to damp and heat and importantly it did not wrap but retained its shape.   One other factor that was in its favour is that it was smoother than natural wicker, so it would not catch on the clothing of the hoi polloi as they enjoyed their Pimms on the veranda. Modern versions are available at they retain all the charm of the originals as they still follow the same patterns.

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The design became very popular in the United States and it was the must have style. After the First World war both Britain and America were in the mood to play and try to forget the previous century. This simple design offered that and they soon became pieces for conservatoires and verandas in great houses, hotels and leisure sites. They were hard wearing and durable so that could take a bit of a knock. It was William Lusty who, on tip off, saw the designs of Marshall B Lloyd and decided to buy the rights. He had made his money in ammunition boxes but was not looking to branch out into something else. Very much the entrepreneur he could soon see how his factory could easily produce the furniture. By 1921 he had secured the rights and launched the Lusty Lloyd loom range upon the public.

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At its peak in the 1930’s the factory in London covered a full seventeen acres with over 500 people under his employ. The range of products was vast, over 400 by 1933, but the Second World War was to put paid to the success. In tragic circumstances the factory at Bromley by Bow was totally destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing in the blitz of 1940. The factory was being considered for war work and was soon targeted along with most of London’s industry sites. Thankfully no one was killed. Unperturbed the company sold the land and moved to Martley in Worcestershire where production carried on until 1968 when the factory closed.

Most modern versions are made in the Far East the USA and the United Kingdom. The latter being a company made up of redundant original Lloyds employees.

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