Power

For the past week, we have had a problem in our house with our electricity. It keeps cutting out and it has taken our electrician several visits to determine what is causing the fault. There have been a few evenings when we’ve relied on candles and hot water bottles for light and warmth. Fortunately, my cooker has a gas hob (electric oven) so I have been able to cook in spite of having no oven or grill.

One cold dark evening last week, I found myself thinking ‘This is just like living in the 1940s.’ which made me think that I could turn the experience into a blog post.

It’s amazing how much we take power for granted. When our power was off, I was frustrated by being unable to carry out normal household chores such as laundry, vacuuming, ironing and I was without entertainment, communication and diversion in the evenings as there was no TV, radio or Internet. The heating system and the land lines depend on electricity too.

Although I grew up in a home which had electricity, I knew homes in our area which didn’t. Looking back, the power we had was basic as it was mainly for lighting with a few sockets. We had an electric cooker as there was no gas in our area but in the early 50s you would only really need electricity for lights if you had a gas cooker as many homes in Britain still didn’t have fridges or TVs. I remember us getting our first fridge. Up until then my mum kept food cool on a stone slab in the pantry and in warm weather put milk bottles in the stream. I was ten years old when we first acquired a TV. Our heating was by coal fire with supplementary heating in the bedrooms in the coldest winter weather by paraffin heaters at bedtime and in the morning.

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Bakelite switches and a phone like our first one with a cloth covered cable.

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Before we had a washing machine, clothes were heated in this type of boiler which was basically a giant kettle and wrung out outside by a mangle.

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Then came our first washing machine – exactly like this one.

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The first vacuum cleaner I remember was exactly like this one and lasted for years. It was already old in the 1950s and had been left behind in a house we moved into in 1955 as the previous owners considered it too old to take with them!

s-l300    Rare-Vintage-1950s-Paul-Warma-Paraffin-Oil-Heater

Paraffin heaters like the ones we had in the 1950s to take the chill off the bedrooms at bedtime.

1950selectricfire        Vintage-Retro-Morphy-Richards-Electric-Heater

In the 1960s each of our bedrooms had an electric fire instead of paraffin. We had two like these.

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1950s home entertainment was via the radio and record player. The radiogram combined both in a ‘stylish’ cabinet. We thought ours was very smart!

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We acquired our first TV in 1961 when I was 10 –  such excitement!! In the mid 1960s my dad bought a reel to reel tape recorder (the same model as this one) which we had loads of fun with.

Vintage-GEC-Electric-Dry-Iron-1950s-1960s-not    Retro-Vintage-Morphy-Richards-Noiseless-HAIR-DRYER-Boxed-_1   s-l500

Early electric iron, kettle and hair dryer like ours in the 1950s.

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12 thoughts on “Power

  1. I’d forgotten about the bakelite light switches! I think my dad painted over all of ours.
    We had TV much earlier than you (and I think we’re about the same age) but then I lived in London at the time. Can you remember what programmes you first watched when you got a TV?

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    • Yes! Noggin the Nog, Tales of the Riverbank, Dixon of Dock Green, RCMP, Garry Halliday and Watch with Mother which was a treat on wet days in the school holidays – even though we were too old for it. Did you watch any of those?

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      • I started on Watch with Mother when I was a toddler, then in the mid to late 50s, Bronco, Robin Hood, various cartoons (Popeye, especially), later Dixon of Dock Green. I’ve forgotten, was Tales of the Riverbank the one with Johnnie Morris? I used to love his gentle animal tales. What was RCMP?

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      • We only had BBC for several years so some of the well known ones, e.g. Robin Hood, we didn’t see as they were ITV. I’d forgotten about Bronco – we loved it and I can still remember the theme song. RCMP was a children’s drama series based on the Canadian Mounted Police. Another one which we loved – which would probably look very tame now. Yes, Tales of the Riverbank was the Johnnie Morris one with the lovely theme tune. I’ve just remembered Whirlybirds too!

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      • I don’t think we had RCMP in London. It’s always been a bit annoying that different regions of the UK had/have different programs… but that the time I wasn’t aware of it (except when we went on holiday!) Was Bronco on a commercial station? I can’t remember.

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      • Bronco was on BBC. I remember the regional variations too. There were things we saw now an then when we stayed with relatives in the Cardiff area. Also, they had TV before we did so I only ever saw Muffin the Mule there – he was deceased by 1961 when we got out first one!

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  2. I get your frustration with lack of electricity for a while in your neighborhood. In my country we try to carry out our chores and activities without electricity… Because power is not on for 24hrs, sometimes it is not available for days! So most people cook with gas cookers, a kerosene stove, and coal. A few still have hot plates that work with electricity but most times it is frustrating with the irregular power supply. We handwash when there is no electricity to power the washing machine. So it’s a mix experience of working with electricity & without it.

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