Photo courtesy of BBC archives

UK is often seen as the troublesome country – the country which will not pass fabrics as FR when all the rest of Europe will, the country with the complex laws on barrier cloths and soft furnishings that seem to change dependant on the usage or age of the piece.

We, at Pike Textiles, love a bit of history (and with our 126 years of pattern book production, have a lot of history to love!) so thought we’d share a little bit about the UK furniture flammability legislation…

….on Tuesday 8 May 1979, smoke was seen rising from the six storey Woolworths Store in the centre of Manchester, opposite Piccadilly Gardens.  Over 500 people – customers and staff – were thought to be inside the building, and many were trapped by the barred windows on the upper floors.

The density of smoke was so thick on the lower floors, that exits and escape routes could not be clearly seen.  Ten people lost their lives and many more were injured.

The investigation found that the main factor for the smoke was the foam used in the furniture – furniture that was stacked up on the trading floors of the store.

Years of campaigning followed as those involved were determined that nothing like this should ever be allowed to happen again.  This resulted in the 1988 Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations.

Manufacturers, importers and retailers in the UK now need to ensure that furniture and its components meet the requirements of schedules 1 and 2 of the regulations and that the permanent and loose covers pass the match test.

Yes the regulations can seem complex, and yes they are unique to the UK, but we should embrace the difference, our industry is safer for them.

If you would like to know more about Pike Textiles’ bespoke sampling solutions and how they can be tailored for your fabric or wallpaper business, please contact Caroline Adams by email: or by phone: 01945 461 361.