Keeping Warm

Back in the 1950’s I knew nobody who had central heating in their home. In fact, I don’t think I ever heard the expression. We all had open fires which burned coal and logs. Even in school, the classroom was heated by a large coal fire. There was an enormous fire guard around the school fire and on a very wet or snowy day there would be loads of hats and gloves drying out on it. There were less than thirty children in the village school so the guard was big enough to dry all our things out before we went out again.

In our house we had two fires, one in the dining room and one in the lounge. In the evening the whole family would be in the lounge together listening to the radio, later in my childhood watching television. We could get really warm and cosy in front of the fire, especially our fronts! Leaving the circle of heat to use the bathroom, get a drink or go to bed was something to be put off as long as possible. . . . and then done as quickly as possible.

In the very coldest weather we children had a paraffin stove in our bedroom. We were so glad of the warmth we didn’t notice the smell of paraffin.

imageOurs was just like this one.

In the morning there was always ice on the inside of the bedroom windows. The patterns formed were beautiful like this example.


Later on, in the 60s, when the family lived in a bigger house, we children had a bedroom each and each bedroom had an electric fire. We were allowed to use them when we were getting up and going to bed. We would not have even tried to spend leisure time in our bedrooms in winter as the electrics fires were known to be expensive to run. We had heaters like each one of these.


Bedding consisted of

. a top and bottom sheet – all cotton, brushed ‘flannelette’ in winter.

. two or three blankets – these were not soft and cuddly, they were hard and scratchy. As they were purely for warmth and sandwiched between sheet and cover the textures didn’t matter.  They weren’t pretty colours either. Some were beige, others were grey or brown.

. a candlewick bedspread.

. a feather-filled eiderdown.



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