Design for an easy chair for headmasters' rooms and staffrooms, 1949
Designer: Oliver Jasper Cox and Hertfordshire County Council Architects' Department
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
In the post-war years almost half of British architects worked for the government in various capacities. Many young architects espoused a commitment to public service, and private practices lacked steady commercial commissions.
The 1944 Education Act, which guaranteed free secondary school education in England and Wales, created a demand for schools not felt since the Elementary Education Act of 1870. The national rebuilding programme allocated school building to newly formed public departments. An estimated 176 schools needed to be built in Hertfordshire alone in the post-war period, spurring Hertfordshire County Council Architects' Department on to becoming one of the most progressive public works divisions in British history.
Architect Oliver Jasper Cox played a major part in this programme, and this design for a headmaster's chair was envisioned for school staff rooms throughout the county. The simple design employs inexpensive materials, an important consideration as Britain recovered from the financial consequences of the war. In addition to its thriftiness and mass-produced construction, Cox's design was elegant and modern.