Object of the month: Vane & Schofield plaque

Sometimes objects literally come out of the woodwork. During a clear-out of one of the workshops a few years ago, this little brass plaque was discovered. Nobody knew where it had come from. When we started to investigate, we realised that it could be a relic from the time of John Nicolson, Winterbourne’s last private owner.

Vane & Schofield Forward Appliance Works were based in Brighton Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham. The warehouse occupied a massive site. In an entry in the British Industries Fair catalogue for 1937, the company advertises summer houses, garden chalets, greenhouses, conservatories, workshops, and many other outdoor structures. This little plaque was clearly designed to be mounted on a structure supplied by the company.

John Nicolson installed many wooden structures during his time at Winterbourne, including glass houses, the lych gate and the Japanese tea house. He also created a summer house, which was demolished many years ago when the building now used by The Maples Day Nursery was built. Were any of these structures supplied by Vane & Schofield? It’s very likely that Nicolson would have used a local firm, and we can’t think of any other reason why the plaque would be here. This object is now a valued part of our permanent collection.