22 Apr 2021

The antique tables and chairs of Lamb of Manchester are well documented. An important name in the Aesthetic Movement, they produced furniture exclusively for the wealthy industrial families of the north, with a large showroom in the city centre. Their furniture regularly turns up in Preston; the antique desks, Victorian dining chairs , antique cabinets and other items always being of exquisite quality.

Lamb of Manchester was founded by James Lamb (1816 – 1903), one of the leading cabinetmakers in Manchester. Acclaimed for his dedication to high quality construction and artistic design, he used only the finest quality materials and workmanship. His designers included Alfred Waterhouse, Bruce Talbot and Charles Bevan, who said he was the most aesthetically advanced furniture craftsman outside London at the time. Lamb of Manchester laid the foundations for the Arts & Crafts Furniture that was to follow.

Upholstered Victorian dining chairs

Lamb of Manchester is renowned for richly upholstered, finely carved Victorian dining chairs, armchairs and sofas, and the company was founded as a cabinet-making and upholstery workshop.

Later, Lamb moved to a larger factory site in Castlefield, and began exhibiting his company’s work.

Exhibition grade antique cabinets

At the London Exhibition of 1862 Lamb’s displayed work by W.J. Estall and Hugues Protat, who designed furniture in an elaborately French style. In the late 1860s the company changed focus, making inlaid gothic pieces to Charles Bevan designs. They also made furniture for the Manchester Assize Courts, to Waterhouse designs which were shown at the Paris Exhibition in 1867 and 1878. Later, they exhibited “Quaint” furniture at the 1887 Manchester Jubilee Exhibition.

Lamb of Manchester was one of the top three manufacturers of Gothic Revival, Aesthetic & Anglo-Japanese furniture in the 19th century. By 1899, their style was outdated, superseded by the simpler Arts & Crafts Furniture of Lancashire, and the company was absorbed into Goodhall, Lamb & Heighway. However, their antique dining tables continue to inspire – one design having copies in the V& A, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Fine Art Society.

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