Obsolete Household Equipment

Recently, I reached into my kitchen drawer for something and my mind wandered on to how household gadgets and equipment have changed over the years. I started thinking about items which, back in the 1950s here in Britain, were in every household. Some of these are virtually unknown now, others are still seen in some households but are no longer commonplace.


In the 1950s here in Britain there were no washing machines. My mum got her first one in the late 60s and it was nothing like the ones we use now! It seemed like luxury but was really very basic. Before that, clothes were washed by hand. the aids which most people used were 1.) a washboard or rubbing board. Wet soapy clothes were rubbed up and down against it to loosen the dirt. 2.) a mangle or wringer to squeeze more water out of the clothes than hand wringing could, thus shortening drying time, 3.) once people were electrified, a water boiler was invented – here the main brand was Burco – which was basically a very large electric kettle which enabled people (women!) to heat larger quantities of water for family laundry. My earliest memories of laundry in the 50s are the Burco boiler combined with the old fashioned mangle. The washing tongs was essential for dragging clothes out of boiling hot suds into the rinsing water. They were wooden with a meal joint at the top  Big hand wash items, such a blankets from the beds, were washed in the bath.


MAQUINÁRIO 4 - Hand-operated mangle used to wring water from wet laundry at a mental health hospital in Victoria, Australia, circa Manufactured by Nicoll, G. Vintage Iron, Vintage Tools, Mental Health Hospitals, Old Washing Machine, Washing Machines, Vintage Furniture, Furniture Design, Wash Tubs, Vintage Laundry

Always used outside because the water just ran straight out of the wrung clothes onto the floor.

Washboard/ rubbing board

Washboards | Old washboards, Vintage laundry, Washboard

Burco Boiler

Vintage Burco Boiler for sale in UK | View 23 bargains

Washing Tongs

VINTAGE WOODEN LAUNDRY washing tongs metal spring kitchenalia ...


Before the days of fitted carets and vacuum cleaners, there were loose rugs and mats which were cleaned by being shaken and beaten outside, There was also a non-electric gadget called a carpet sweeper which was use for picking up bits and fluff in between beatings.

Carpet beater

Rattan Rug Beater - Home Decorating Ideas & Interior Design

Carpet sweeper

Pin on Bissell Through the Ages




My mum used her mincer every week. Each weekend we had a joint of meat for Sunday lunch in true British style. The leftover meat was minced on Monday and turned into something ese like shepherd’s pie. The gadget clamped on to a table and you fed lumps of meat into the top, turned the handle and minced meat came out of the front.

Jelly mould

Vintage 1950's Aluminium Rabbit Jelly Mould, Chocolate Mould ...

No children’s birthday party would have been complete without jelly! Weekday jelly was just made in a bowl but for special occasions you could use a mould. I’ve chosen this photograph because it’s exactly like the one my mum had. The rabbit jelly was always the centrepiece of the birthday tea.


1920s vintage Pyrex Ad

Pyrex was the what every modern kitchen had to have in the 50s and 60s! Young couples were bought Pyrex oven to table wear as wedding presents,

Hand whisk and rotary beater.

The Magic Whisk | Etsy Blog – Australia                   Stainless Steel Collectable Small Kitchen Hand Mixers for sale | eBay

The electric hand held mixer and later the food processor (remember the name Kenwood Chef?) rendered the rotary whisk obsolete.


Chamber pot

Antique/vintage small cream china potty or planter dated | Etsy

Many of the households I was familiar with as a child didn’t have indoor plumbing. This included my paternal grandparents’ house. When the facilities are at the bottom of the garden, the chamber pot or ‘potty’ was under the bed ready for you.


Paraffin heater

paraffin | Remembrance of Things Past

My dad had one in his greenhouse and we three children had one in the bedroom in winter to take the chill off the air as we were getting ready for bed, also in the morning when we were getting up. Central heating was a long way in the future when I was young!



Pretty Vintage Quilt Eiderdown C.1950s Rosy Floral Shabby Chic ...

Back in the 50’s in Britain, bedding consisted of a top sheet, a bottom sheet, woollen blankets, a coverlet or bedspread and an eiderdown which was a feather stuffed quilt and a sort of precursor to the modern duvet.

Candlewick Bedspread   So new and stylish in the 1950s!

Irish Candlewick Bedspread from 1950s Pink peach color with white ...




12 thoughts on “Obsolete Household Equipment

  1. I still have a hand beater in my drawer and I use it instead of the electric one at times. I have a pyrex set of bowls from the 1950s. I use them all the time!! The fit together…big yellow bowl medium green, etc. My mom has the same set and she is eighty-six years old. These bowls remind me of my childhood and the foods my mother and grandmother made.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh the rabbit jelly mould! I still have one somewhere in the back of a cupboard. I often used to make a blancmange for Sunday tea for the kids.. You could buy a box of 5 flavours Brown & Polson I think they were. Wonder if they still sell them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brown and Polson! I remember the brand so well. Must check them out. You never hear of blancmange now. One of the best rabbits I remember my mum making was for my younger sister’s fourth or fifth birthday party. She made the rabbit out of chocolate blancmange so it looked like a real rabbit. Then she made a plain green jelly. Chopped it up fine and spread it around the rabbit to look like grass. We thought it was utterly amazing!!!!


  3. Well..loving the picture of the 3 wash boards..and we have, downstairs..an exact one”doubl handy” board. The meat grinder..and during a few times each year..i haul out the meat..for late Fall recipes..and do the grinding..with a will. On all the days..i doNOT need it, i still enjoy seeing it..laying in the bottom of my towels drawer. While i was waiting for the ‘muse’..to hit..with what i would mention..my cancer dr. called. Seems my organs are all doing well..in spite of my 6 ounces of hoppy ale. Bitters..of course. The changeup..says dr. will be dropping me off something called anastrzol (sp?)..and putting me on a stronger hormone..to to stop the weakening of my bones. He will go with..this new routine..for some months..then another bone scan. If needed..then a stronger hormone..with a bit..of chemo. Remembering i am..82 and a half now.. these types of information..may be a help..as others you, on the blog may know..deal with cancer. We fight back best..when we..compare informations. ina puustinen westerholm

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I love that you still have some of these things – and use them.
      What brilliant news that you’re beating the demon cancer. Thank you for sharing that with us. As you say, sharing and comparing can help. Meryl


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