Board of Trade, Utility Furniture Scheme, 1942-1949
199 files and flat sheets
Administrative / biographical background:
Prior to the Second World War, the furniture industry was well established and was expanding fairly rapidly. In 1940, however, with the war in its first year, the unrestricted allocation of timber for civilian furniture was discontinued. A Timber Supplies Committee was set up to examine the question of replacing furniture damaged through bombing. Through the Committee a small allocation was made for the manufacture of specified articles only.
In October 1941, under the Limitation of Supplies Orders, it was estimated that only one-sixth of the total supply of timber was being channelled into the civilian sector. By 1 September 1942 the manufacture of civilian furniture was prohibited, except under licence. Licences would be granted only for the production of utility goods.
The Utility Furniture Scheme was introduced by the Board of Trade at the end of 1942. Under this scheme only the poorest quality wood was permitted in the making civilian furniture. Other restrictions included the introduction of standard designs, the limitation of supply to priority series, and the zoning of supply to save on transport. The Board of Trade selected the firms to make utility furniture, and allocated production programmes to them, together with the raw materials.
The Board of Trade also set up eleven regions in Great Britain, each Regional Office to deal with all questions relating to utility furniture. A Utility Mark was designated for all such furniture.
These regulations remained in force until 1 March 1949 when the Board of Trade abolished the Scheme under the Utility Furniture (Buying Permits) (Revocation) Order, 1949 (S.I. 1949 No.258).
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