Mementoes of a seaside education

Renowned Scarborough educational institution to find new homes for their collection of ‘Mouseman’ and Acorn Industries Yorkshire Oak Furniture

A large collection of Yorkshire oak furniture by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson and Acorn Industries from the University of Hull, Scarborough Campus, commissioned by North Riding College between 1948 and 1970, will be sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ Summer Fine Art Sale on 15 July 2017.

The Scarborough Campus on Filey Road has been a centre of learning since it was first built in 1909, designed by Scarborough-born Fred Rowntree, a notable Arts and Crafts architect. The campus was built for Orleton Preparatory School, who occupied the site from 1910-1940, before becoming home to the North Riding College, the North’s prestigious teacher training college from 1948-1993. Since then, the campus has been home to University College Scarborough (1993-2000), and has been until this year part of the University of Hull.

It was from the late 1940s and the early years of the North Riding College that the first commissions of Yorkshire oak furniture were given to Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson. Not only was his furniture local, but it was very well suited to the rigours of life in an institution – simply designed and constructed, and extremely durable. Alan ‘Acorn’ Grainger, who founded his own furniture company Acorn Industries, was one of a number of craftsmen inspired to follow in the footsteps of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson. Grainger was commissioned in the 60s and 70s to add to the college’s collection of oak furniture.

The collection up for sale includes refectory tables, benches, chairs, and a unique tea trolley made by Thompson to designs supplied by the College.

Linda Hockley, Campus Principal, says of the sale:
“As Principal of Scarborough Campus, I am delighted to have commissioned Tennants to exhibit and sell the various pieces of Mouseman and Acorn furniture that have been a part of this campus for so many years.

Thousands of staff and students have been part of the history of this campus since 1909 and we know that the beautiful and distinctive furniture has been used by them since the early 1950s. It was enjoyed by the college staff in the lounge for afternoon tea and was at the heart of the campus refectory. Many students who came back to see us recently as part of The Seaside Story: Chapters of Scarborough Campus exhibition fondly remembered the mice!

We hope that as the latest chapter in the history of this campus comes to an end with the University of Hull moving all programmes back to Hull, that this furniture will go on to be enjoyed and cherished as it has been on this campus for decades.”

The Summer Fine Art Sale will also include nearly 70 lots of ‘Mouseman’ furniture and furnishings from other collections.
The furniture will be on display at Tennants’ salerooms from the 9-14 July ahead of the sale

Click here for a specially produced newsletter, featuring more information on this collection 

Alternatively, please contact the auction house on 01969 623780 or

A Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson set of six oak chairs – Estimate £600-900
A Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson oak tea trolley, with Mouse detail – Estimate £300-500

A photograph of the ‘Mouseman’ dining room furniture in the College, c.1948