Commonwealth Gifts made to the House of Commons in 1950

The following gifts for the cost of materials were made by the then members of the Commonwealth to mark the rebuilding of the House of Commons Chamber after damage during the Second World War.

The new Chamber was used for the first time on 26 October, 1950.

Twelve Commonwealth members gave special native woods grown in their country, and then sent to Britain for fabrication; they are marked with an *.

Two donors provided wood and also made the items; they are marked with **.

Former names of Commonwealth members are given in brackets:

Australia* ‐ Speaker's Chair made from Blackbean wood, (Moreton Bay Chestnut), Castanospermum australe. Blackbean from Ravenshoe, Northern Queensland, Australia. Made by H.H. Martyn & Co. Ltd., of Cheltenham, England. The royal coat of arms and canopy were carved by Charles Gisborne, B.E.M. Canopy of silk damask with gold thread by Watts & Co., London SW.

Bahamas ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair, English oak, Quercus robur.

Barbados ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair, English oak.

Belize (British Honduras)* ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair in Mayflower wood Tabebuia pentaphylla and Royal Coat of Arms, English oak.

Bermuda ‐ Two triple silver gilt inkstands.

Botswana (Bechuanaland Protectorate) ‐ One silver gilt ashtray.

Canada** ‐ Table of the House in Canadian Oak, Quercus spp. Made by the Globe Furniture Company of Canada, Waterloo, Ontario.
 
Cyprus ‐ Members' Writing Room table, English oak.

Dominica, Windward Islands ‐ One silver gilt inkstand.

Falkland Islands ‐ One silver gilt ashtray.

Fiji ‐ One silver gilt inkstand.

The Gambia ‐ Two silver gilt ashtrays.

Ghana (Gold Coast)* ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair in Mansonia wood, Mansonia altissima.

Gibraltar ‐ Two oak table lamps with bronze shades.

Grenada, Windward Islands ‐ One silver gilt inkstand.

Guernsey ‐ Minister's writing desk and three chairs and arm chair, English oak.

Guyana (British Guiana) ‐ Four triple silver gilt inkstands.

Hong Kong ‐ One triple silver gilt inkstand.

India ‐ North entrance doors to Chamber, English oak.

Isle of Man ‐ One silver gilt inkstand and two silver gilt ashtrays for Prime Minister's Conference Room.

Jamaica ‐ Bar of the House in bronze made by Starkie Gardner Ltd., Merton, London.

Jersey ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair, English oak, and silver gilt inkstand.

Kenya* ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair in Olive wood, Olea hochstetteri.

Leeward Islands ‐ Six English oak table lamps with bronze shades

Lesotho (Basutoland) ‐ Two silver gilt ashtrays.

Malawi (Nyasaland) - One triple silver gilt inkstand and one silver gilt ashtray.

Malaysia (Malaya) ‐ Minister's writing desk and arm chair, English oak.

Malta ‐ Three silver gilt ashtrays.

Mauritius ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair, English oak.

Newfoundland* ‐ Six chairs for Prime Minister's Conference Room in Newfoundland Birch wood, Betula spp.

New Zealand* ‐ Two dispatch boxes in Puriri wood, Vitex lucens. Made by H.H. Martyn & Co. Ltd., of Cheltenham.

Nigeria* ‐ Furniture for ‘Aye’ Division Lobby in Iroko wood, Chlorophora excelsa.

Northern Ireland ‐ Two clocks for the Chamber by Gent & Co. Ltd., Leicester, and division clock on Clerks’ Table by F.W. Elliott Ltd., London, EC1.

Pakistan ‐ South entrance doors to Chamber, English oak.

Sabah (N Borneo) ‐ One table and five chairs for interview room in White Seraya wood, Parashorea spp.

St Helena* ‐ One Chairman's chair for Prime Minister's Conference Room in Iroko wood, Chlorophora excelsa.

St Lucia, Windward Islands ‐ One silver gilt inkstand in Prime Minister's Conference Room.

St Vincent, Windward Islands ‐ One silver gilt ashtray.

Seychelles ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair, English oak.

Sierra Leone* ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair in African Gold Walnut wood, Juglans spp.

Singapore ‐ One table and five chairs for interview room, English oak.

South Africa** ‐ Three chairs for Clerks’ Table in Black (or True) Stinkwood, Ocotea bullata. Made by the Department of Public Works in Pretoria, South Africa.
 
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) ‐ Serjeant at Arm's chair, English oak.

Swaziland ‐ One silver gilt ashtray.

Tanzania (Tanganyika)* ‐ One table and five chairs for interview room in Iroko wood, Chlorophora excelsa.

Trinidad and Tobago ‐ Minister's writing desk and chair, English oak.

Uganda* ‐ Furniture for ‘No’ Division Lobby in Mvule wood, Milicia excelsa

Yemen (Aden) ‐ Members' Writing Room table, English oak.

Zambia (N Rhodesia) - Two pairs of bronze brackets for the Mace at the front of the Clerks’ Table.

Zanzibar (now a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania) ‐ One silver gilt ashtray.

Zimbabwe (S Rhodesia) ‐ Two silver gilt inkstands with stationery racks for Clerks’ Table in the Chamber made by the Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company Ltd., London, W1.

[Total: 51 members]

Every former British Colony was represented by a gift of one piece of wood for the table in the Prime Minister’s Conference Room. Pieces of driftwood were sometimes used, and all the triangular donations were made into a panel of inlay 1/8” thick set into the edge of the English oak top.

The parquet floors were made from Australian Walnut wood, Juglans regia, and like the Speaker’s Chair, the wood came from Ravenshoe, Northern Queensland, Australia, but in this case it was not a gift from that country.

Designer:

All the designs for the overall architectural scheme, woodwork, furniture and fittings were undertaken by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, OM, FRIBA (1880-1960).

Manufacturers:

Joinery and furniture in the Chamber and gift tables, table lamp standards and oak inkstands were made by J.L. Green and Vardy Ltd., Islington, London unless otherwise stated.

The chairs, settees and telephone stools were made by Waring and Gillow Ltd., Lancaster unless otherwise stated.

Upholstery of green vaumol hide by Maple & Co. Ltd., London, W1.

The two silver gilt inkstands with stationery racks for the Clerks’ Table were made by the Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company Ltd., London, W1.

The remaining silver gilt inkstands and ashtrays were made by Blunt & Wray Ltd., London, W1.

Image: Parliamentary copyright