Beresford + Hicks and 2 totally different mid-century dining sets

Beresford + Hicks and 2 totally different mid-century dining sets both made by them circa 1955 !

Beresford + Hicks were established by Julius Beresford Wiszniewski ( 1868-1959 )  and his brother-in-law Mr Hicks in the late 19th or early 20th Century . Julius was not only a successful businessman but he was also an Olympic rower and later a coach who won a silver medal in the 1912 Olympics . In 1914 he dropped the Wisniewski and his middle name became his surname . He was later known just as ” Berry ” or ” The Old Berry” . His son Jack ( 1899-1977) was an even more amazing rower as even though he suffered a horrible leg injury during service in the First World War , he managed to win medals at 5 consecutive Olympics , a feat that wasn’t matched until Steve Redgrave . This was done in the days of amateur sport when athletes competed whilst holding down full-time jobs , in his case in the family furniture business .

Beresford + Hicks started in the traditional heart of the London furniture industry in Shoreditch , and in 1930 moved into a purpose built 4 storey factory in Hoxton . They must have been successful to do this at a time of recession . My father’s parents bought a Beresford + Hicks dining suite in the 1930s . It was a top quality heavily carved walnut suite in the William + Mary style with a large table , sideboard , serving table and 8 chairs . This was typical of their production at the time and would have been much more expensive than the standard 1930s dining set consisting of an oak drawleaf table , sideboard and 4 chairs which was bought by most families in Britain at the time . I did inherit this set , but eventually sold it as it was rather too big for my house , but I still have a couple of armchairs which were probably also made by them which are shown in this blog .

My parents got married in 1956 and went to London to the Earls Court Ideal Home Exhibition and bought a typical mid-1950s Beresford + Hicks walnut dining set in the then popular Queen Anne style which was a lighter and less ornate version of my grandparents set . See photos . My parents tastes were very traditional as they could have bought the Beresford + Hicks set we have recently bought and restored which was in the then popular Italian contemporary style .

Beresford + Hicks labelled their pieces Berick Furniture just as their larger more mid-market competitors E Gomme used the G Plan name . G Plan also went down the Italian influenced route in the late 1950s as it was considered to be more commercial than the Scandinavian look which however ended up as the modern style in the 1960s . E Gomme and others like McIntosh decided to concentrate purely on the modern  style , whereas others like Beresford + Hicks decided to cover both the traditional and the modern styles . In the 1960s they moved from the Queen Anne style in walnut to the next prevailing style in Reproduction furniture which was the Regency style in mahogany . They continued to make some contemporary pieces , but it was never a major part of their business , so such sets as the Italian style one we have is quite rare . Like so many British furniture makers their business gradually declined and they were taken over by various companies and groups before being wound up as a company in 2000 . A sad end to a company with interesting roots .

I haven’t shown my mother this Italian style set as I know she’d find it really hideous , but for me it has a simple style and elegance that can’t be found in her Queen Anne style set .