Bath chair, United Kingdom, 1901-1920

1901-1920 in England

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wickerwork bath chair, with metal frame, English, early 20th century

The Bath chair is a forerunner to the modern wheelchair. It was invented by James Heath and gained popularity and its name when used by visitors to the spa town of Bath from the 1700s. Many visitors who came to ‘take the waters’ were often in poor health. Although the occupant can guide the direction of the chair, an attendant pushes it from behind to provide the power.

Sedan chairs had been the most popular transport for individuals. They were carried by two or more people. However, the more convenient Bath chair had taken its place by 1830. Wheeled chairs had been used before in England, but the Bath chair’s popularity made it the vehicle of choice.


Object Number:
1979-811 Pt3
metal, rubber (tyres) and wicker
bath chair
Department of Health & Social Security (DHSS)