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Classic Ercol

Classic Ercol

You may have caught the recent episode of BBC2’s In the Factory featuring the ercol factory in  Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire. The hero piece of the programme was the classic ercol Windsor Chair – model number 1877, and followed its manufacture from raw planks to the finished article, in all its steam-bent glory.

ercol Originals 1877 Windsor Dining Chair angledThe Windsor range was launched by ercol in 1950 and has been in continuous production ever since. Created by ercol founder, Lucian Ercolani, this chair has undergone subtle changes over the years. Most notably it is now made entirely in solid ash, whereas early models had an elm seat, with the other parts made from beech. However it is still made using the same construction techniques and still retains the essential appearance of Lucian’s original.

ercol Windsor 1877 Chair

The Windsor chair is made up from 15 components, all individually crafted and assembled by hand. The distinctive bow back is steam-bent from a single ash rail, and holds six slim spindles turned from the same timber. The only deviation from the original design was a 1954 version which had five spindles. The seat is a ‘saddle’ style, sculpted from one piece of solid ash, and it is comfortable and supportive with or without a cushion pad.

As well as its steam-bent back, another defining feature of the 1877 chair is the traditional wedge joints used to attach the legs. The leg comes through the seat and is fixed with an ash wedge inserted into a notch, then glued in place; no screws or nails are used. The ends of the leg and wedge are then cut off and hand-sanded flush with the seat to create a smooth, secure joint, with the neat round top of each leg visible from above. As one ercol brochure from the 1950s rather quaintly put it: “This cunning construction enables it to withstand the roughest treatment and come up smiling.”

ercol Originals 1875 Quaker Dining Chair angledWith the success of the 1877 Windsor chair, ercol went on to create the 1875 Quaker chair. This has a more elongated back, creating an elegant silhouette, but it is made using the same processes.
As with much of ercol’s collections these chairs come in a choice of finishes, from the standard Clear Matt, through to Dark. The chairs also come in a choice of Black or White painted finish. Both chairs are also available in armchair versions (1877A and 1875A respectively).

With more and more furniture being produced overseas, it is good to see an iconic British design still being manufactured in the UK using skilled craftspeople.

ercol Windsor 1194 Table and 1877 Chairs

Click here for more details of the ercol ranges available at TR Hayes

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