Exhibition commemorates 80th anniversary of furniture craft school in Thame

1948 Rycotewood Christmas celebrations at the Masonic Hall in Thame
1948 Rycotewood Christmas celebrations at the Masonic Hall in Thame

A historic furniture institution founded in Thame in the early 20th century is returning home for a commemorative exhibition.

The Rycotewood Furniture Centre at City of Oxford College, part of Activate Learning, is celebrating its 80th birthday during the next few months in its original home town.

The Rycotewood Back in Thame exhibition is now on view at Thame Museum and charts the vision of Cecil Michaelis to form craft education as a furniture training school in Thame that developed through the decades into training for furniture makers and engineers.

Chris Hyde, director of design for creative arts at Activate Learning, gave a talk at the museum to mark the launch of the exhibition.

Chris is a trained Rycotewood Furniture craftsman and antique restorer. His interest in the furniture and furnishings industry came from his upbringing in a family retail furnishing company, G.B. Hyde and Son, which traded for 127 years in Cambridgeshire.

Chris said: “Rycotewood today is as much as ever a community with a purpose. Its reputation is our protection and responsibility. We owe it to the past and the future. 80 years ago Rycotewood set out to give students their rightful place in the industry and in society. That was the original purpose of our founder and our students have helped to achieve it.”

In 2004 Rycotewood College joined with colleges in Oxford and Banbury to form what is now Activate Learning. The Rycotewood Furniture Centre moved to its current site at the City of Oxford College city centre campus where it continues to deliver furniture design and making programmes from Level 1 and learning for leisure courses all the way up to full-time degree programmes.

Rycotewood Back in Thame, is on at Thame Museum until July 26. The exhibition is free and is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays 10am to 4pm and Sundays noon to 4pm.

Thame Museum is operated by Thame Museum Trust and is housed in the former Magistrates Court, now owned by Thame Town Council. Visit www.thamemuseum.org