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.
Bakelite switches and a phone like our first one with a cloth covered cable.
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.
Then came our first washing machine – exactly like this one.
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!
Paraffin heaters like the ones we had in the 1950s to take the chill off the bedrooms at bedtime.
In the 1960s each of our bedrooms had an electric fire instead of paraffin. We had two like these.
1950s home entertainment was via the radio and record player. The radiogram combined both in a ‘stylish’ cabinet. We thought ours was very smart!
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.
Early electric iron, kettle and hair dryer like ours in the 1950s.