January’s Chair of the Month is a wheelchair with a beech frame and caned seat and back, made in High Wycombe in about the 1870s. It is not known which of the many local factories made this chair, but Glenisters certainly made caned wheelchairs and other local makers probably made similar chairs too. J Mole of High Wycombe specialised in what they called ‘invalid chairs’, from 1918 until their closure in 1935.
J Mole’s decision to specialise in furniture for disabled people might have been a response to an increased demand due to injuries in World War 1. In the years following World War 2, the Paralympics were established in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire. The games were initially for injured service men and women.
Wycombe Museum is exploring the local Paralympic story in Buckinghamshire in collaboration with local young people with disabilities, supported by a Together We Build grant from Bucks Culture. Together We Build is a partnership project centred on the story of the Paralympics.