Royal Navy chairs ready for welcome Fratton Park return

WELCOME RETURN The chairs are looked at during the filming of television programme Antiques Roadshow
WELCOME RETURN The chairs are looked at during the filming of television programme Antiques Roadshow
Conor Chaplin in action against Northampton. Picture: Joe Pepler

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A SET of antique chairs which were donated to Pompey by the Royal Navy look set to be returned to the club.

The 14 oak chairs and table were made for HMS Warrior and given to Pompey for use in the Fratton Park boardroom.

But owner at the time, Sacha Gaydamak, wanted to modernise the room back in 2006, so he got rid of them.

The furniture was then found in a skip by a builder who salvaged them and has kept them in storage ever since, with a view to one day returning them back to the club.

The chairs were featured on Antiques Roadshow when the television programme was filmed in Portsmouth earlier this year, which is set to be screened this Sunday.

The unnamed builder who salvaged the items told Antiques Roadshow expert Deborah Lambert: ‘About seven years ago, Portsmouth Football Club was taken over by a new owner and decided to modernise the interior of the stadium.

‘My company actually carried out the works, and to my horror, these – and a table – were literally in the skip.

‘There’s 14 chairs and I believe it’s a five-leafed table which I’ve kept in storage for the last seven years.

‘I believe it was donated by one of the authorities within the navy, because it was originally on HMS Warrior.’

Miss Lambert said the chairs dated to the mid 19th century.

She said: ‘I would say that these chairs date from around 1860-1870.

‘They’re made of oak, very characteristic kind of yellowish colour that you find in the 19th century.

‘Is this the kind of furniture they could have found in HMS Warrior? Stylistically they certainly fit with the period of HMS Warrior, which was commissioned in 1861.’

The builder said he hoped to give the furniture back to the club when the current owners had ‘changed their taste’.

The chairs have the design of a ship’s wheel on the back and are likely to have been made for a ward room on board HMS Warrior.

They have been owned by Pompey for more than 70 years.

But during the Second World War they were moved to a harbour fort where Winston Churchill and Field Marshall Montgomery are said to have used them to plot the downfall of the Germans.

The antique table and chairs are just some of many artefacts that have been stripped from the club in recent years.

As the club is now owned by the supporters as a community trust, they are seeking some of the missing items and hope to finally return them to the club.

Club spokesman Colin Farmery, said Pompey were looking forward to getting the table and chairs back.

He said: ‘We are aware that a number of significant club artefacts went missing between 2006 and 2010 under previous ownership regimes at the club.

‘Since the new community club was formed, we have started the process of recovering these artefacts, many of which have already been located and looked after by Pompey fans.

‘The historic boardroom table and chairs are an important part of the club’s heritage and we believe they belong at Fratton Park.

‘We look forward to the items returning to their rightful home in the club’s boardroom in the near future.’