The Story of:

Victoria Arms

by Vicki Leach


I sat with colleagues, chatting away on a faithful old chair. Burly, with a heavy mahogany stain, the marks and chips of its past were ever present. It was a chair I was familiar with but only in these types of places - pubs.

A ‘traditional pub’ is engrained in the society and culture of modern Britain. Very often the focus of communities across the breadth of the country and renowned world wide, these establishments have been around for almost 2,000 years.


You probably have a faithful ‘local’ where you’ll likely know the staff, what ales they serve and your favourite ‘spot’ that makes your visit warm and friendly. You’ll know what it sounds like, how it smells and how the atmosphere makes you feel when you’re sat putting the world to rights.

Public House furniture are beloved articles that are centrifugal in bringing these interiors to life. The mere sight of a Windsor style chair could subconsciously arouse your nostalgia and remind you of good times; it feels homely and outgoing all at once.

The ‘Smokers Bow’ armchair is one of the chairs you might just recall. Dating back to the 1820s and still in production today, this sturdy relative of a Windsor Chair boasts comfortably wide seats and is supported on slightly splayed legs. A short flat rail is fitted to the bow of the arms to give extra support to the sitter. Granted, the Smoker’s Bow was never seen in the most ‘elegant’ surroundings, but it was a definitive style of innumerous pubs and inns. This chair continues to be produced today and remains a sturdy stalwart in the public realm.

The idea was to bring this old faithful object of our affections into the 21st century, in keeping with the style of modern bars, restaurants and private dwellings. A nod to the warmth of the past and an embrace of the future.


The Victoria Arms has kept many of the features of the original chair such as the generous width, curved flat armrest and splayed spindles and legs. The aesthetic is stripped back, akin to modernist values and in keeping with many contemporary environments.

I approached Sitting Firm, who are one of the very few remaining makers of traditional Windsor style chairs in Britain, including the Smoker’s Bow itself, safe in the knowledge they would havr=and capacity to undertake such a design. We held the same values of quality and longevity and decided the collaboration would be a good fit.


The chair utilises many of the traditional manufacturing techniques that would have
made the original Smoker’s Bow: turning, steam bending and joinery. The introducion of newer technologies like a custom built Adzing machine and metalwork offers an innovative twist to a familiar classic.

Essentially, the chair aims to capture the emotions of love and nostalgia felt for these establishments, and embody them in a new product that can be incorporated into modern living and cherished for years to come.