OUR main picture shows Swindon history enthusiast Josie Lewis with a piece of furniture she inherited from her father.

As readers familiar with the furniture styles of the 1940s and 1950s may be aware, it is an example of what were known as Spitfire Cabinets.

They tended to me made in the aftermath of World War Two using surplus aluminium originally intended for use in military aircraft.

Some of the items were made in the factories returning to peacetime production, and some made by other firms which acquired the metal.

Reproduction furniture in the same style is prized by people seeking an exclusive retro look.

Josie wonders whether her example is connected in some way to Supermarine, whose South Marston plant turned out more than 100 Spitfires in addition to other machines.

“It’s beautiful, very well-made,” she said. “It’s made of very thin aluminium and the handles are made of Bakelite.”

Bakelite is itself historic, as it was the first commonly available form of plastic.

Josie’s father, Joseph was born in 1924, served with the RAF in a rescue boat crew during World War Two, worked for the Wills tobacco firm in civilian life and lived until the age of 81.

Joseph preserved the nameplate of the vessel he served aboard, Flying Norseman, which was the difference between life and death for many a downed aviator. The plate is one of Josie’s most precious possessions.

How Joseph acquired the cabinet, however, is a mystery to her.

“I have no memory of it being in the house,” she said. “It might have come from Wills, because Dad sometimes brought things home - things got chucked out by Wills - or it might have come from a dealer. It might have come from another member of the family.

“It had been a tool cupboard in the garage since the early 1970s. I saw it and something clicked. I thought it would look nice cleaned up.”

Josie’s work included removing a coat of old paint the cabinet had acquired at some point during its working life, but she was still none the wiser as to exactly what it was.

It was only when she happened to mention the piece to a person she met at a retro fair in Lydiard House that the truth emerged.

Josie has since had the cabinet renovated by Re-Vamped, a specialist Swindon firm run by husband and wife team Dave and Debbie Williams, who also build retro objects such as lamps.

They can be reached on 07840 955388.