Imagine the scene, it’s the mid to late 1950s on a large and relatively new built housing estate near Derby, pretty ice patterns are forming on the inside of the house windows, there’s no central heating, a smoky coal fire warms the living room. Lino and Formica grace the kitchen. No fridges or freezers, so food was kept cool in a larder or pantry. In winter time the rented council houses were freezing enough anyway. The solution to being cold was to put on more layers of clothes and then wrap a blanket round you. If you were still cold, you could always jump up and down a bit or skip with a skipping rope.
Once in bed you covered yourself in layers of sheets and a heavy eiderdown and warmed your stockinged feet on a stone hot water bottle. This was domestic life for me and my family in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I started to think about this after using my new luxurious washing machine after five weeks of hand washing and being blessed with good drying weather. How times have changed.
|stone hot water bottle|
|ice patterns on the glass|
Subsequently, the washing was hung out on the washing line secured with dolly pegs and hoisted up in the air with a big wooden clothes prop. The concrete washing line posts were supplied in every back yard or garden courtesy of the local County Council. The washing itself would very often freeze on bitterly cold days and the frosty stiff ice filled clothes were carried in and defrosted in front of the coal fire on a wooden clothes horse. The steam produced made the bay windows run with condensation. The bay window net curtains would then have to be washed too before the constant damp caused them to rot. In the mid sixties my family got a spin dryer which danced dangerously around the kitchen and made a terrible racket but saved a lot of the damp problems and served as cheap entertainment.
|Dolly Tub and podger|
|slightly more modern washing machine|
The kitchen at Perth Street was also the dining room and under the bright, patterned, curtained storage space next to the huge porcelain kitchen sink and draining board, were products like Zal Pine Fluid disinfectant, Vim for cleaning the kitchen sink and bath, Starch, Reckitt’s blue bags, slabs of green Fairy soap for clothes washing, body and hair washing too, a collection of stout bottles for returning to the Off Licence, a tub of Vick’s vapour rub for chesty colds, shoe blackening polish for keeping the family shoes shiny like in the army and a few of my boys toys like toy soldiers given free with Kellogg’s Cornflakes.My Mum liked to bake and the kitchen would often be filled with the scent of freshly baked Fairy cakes and Victoria sponges and many other confections. I don’t think that she would have baked bread though as our bread diet was mostly in the form of Hovis loaves, large, white and sliced and perfect for making toast on the coal fire with an extendable toasting fork. Aside from home made jam, one of the fave things to eat on the toast was beef dripping as well as lard sprinkled with Saxa salt. Oh we knew how to live back then!
When the chimney got full of soot my Dad even had his own set of chimney brushes to do the chimney sweeping job himself to save money. All the furniture got covered in sheets as my Dad huffed and puffed and manually forced the stiff brushes up the chimney to dislodge the black soot. The resulting soot then got taken outside and spread about the garden to warm and condition the clay soil for the Spring and to deter soil pests like slugs.Funny what thoughts can be generated by appreciating the modern gadgets that we take for granted sometimes. Oh well, must get the washing done. Now, where's me podger gone?