Inspired by the glorious weather we’ve been having, I dusted off the garden furniture and spent a decent chunk of the weekend reading and lazing in the sun,listening to the classical concerts in the church behind our house and watching bees on the bluebells.
Thanks to a pair of beautiful vintage deckchairs, I can recline in style. I bought them at an antiques fair a few years ago and have used them every summer since. They’re comfortable, strong, easy to store in the shed or fold flat and whack in the car to take camping, and they look much more attractive than modern deckchairs do.
Serendipitously, I spotted a third deckchair on the bonfire scrap-wood heap at my allotment recently, so ‘retrieved’ it, of course, and took it home. Frames can cost £50 to £85 at an antiques shop, so I figured I had a bit of a bargain; Even though it was mouldy, ripped and stinking of fox pee, it was sturdy and had the initials ‘AHW’ scrawled on the side. It just needed a bit of ‘TLC’.
From Edwardian times to the 1960s, hardware shops sold deckchair canvas fabric by the metre, so people could spruce up their old deckchairs for the summer months. Nowadays, you have to head online to find the right kit.
All you need is about 1.5m of sturdy cotton canvas fabric per chair and some upholstery pins (£2 for 25). If you’re after something pared-back, Ian Mankin has a small range of smart deckchair canvases, from £14.50 per metre.
I bought a length of fabric from The Stripes Company, which specialises in deckchair canvas, and sells new and vintage-inspired fabrics from £12 per metre in bright, seaside-style colours.
It seems old-fashioned deckchairs are making a comeback. Last year, The Stripes Company founder, Maria Hopwood, bought 6000 vintage deckchairs from Blackpool Council, who, incidentally, made £6 million in cash from deckchair hire from 1958 to 1960 when the seaside resort was a more popular holiday destination. The council stopped hiring them out in 2004 and kept them in storage for ten years. Now, with her huge hoard, Maria runs a popular Heritage Deckchair Hire service for events such as weddings and outdoor concerts. She’s recently expanded abroad, too, selling chairs and canvas to clients in America and Australia; Meanwhile, IKEA has just launched a new wooden vintage-style deckchair (called ‘Mysingsö’) which costs £20. The revival is in full swing.
Maria has a fabulous stash of vintage deckchair ephemera, such as posters and postcards. Here are a few highlights from her collection for your perusal.