Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Looking inside great grandma’s house

The range complete with cat
If like me you were born in the first half of the last century you will remember the old cooking ranges, the small gas stoves, and those brass light switches which long ago were deemed unsafe.

They were the background to everyday life, and are now seldom seen other than in museums.

Our range disappeared from the old house in the early 1950s, the gas stove swapped for a gleaming top of the range Cannon cooker in 1962 and the old phone with its wooden base along with much more went when I was still a baby.

That said one surviving brass light switch long sense disconnected still sits at the top of our cellar stairs, and over the years we put back the old fire places, bought a cast iron bath along with  a lead lavatory cistern in its wooden box.

They replaced the plastic ones  were part of the modernisation of the house.

An open fire and a kettle
I doubt that many houses in Eltham can still boast those original features so I am indebted to my friend Ann who sent me a series of drawings she made of her home.

We think it will have been built sometime around 1890 and so what you see are some of the original fittings along with others which will date from the very early years of the 20th century.

I remember my grandmother still used her range well into the 1950s but also fell back on a small gas stove which was easier to use and far quicker.

Municipal authorities like Manchester were keen to promote cooking on gas and householders could rent or buy on credit the same model that Ann drew in the 1960s.

That old telephone
Telephones may seem a luxury but in some of the more well off homes they were a must, and the names of the good and worthy can be increasingly looked up in the telephone directories from as early as 1900.

It is of course easy to become sentimental about these old feature.  As warm and comforting the range might be it was run on solid fuel, which meant racking out the ashes and carrying heavy buckets of coal.

The gas stoves were pretty basic models and the down side of a brass light switch was that someone was made to polish it.

The phone may not  have lit up when it received a call nor would it store the number of the caller or allow them to leave a message, but it worked.

It did the business of allowing you to talk to someone not in the same house and not send a letter of a postcard.

In the same way the cooker cooked your meal with no recourse to a timer, a split oven or a  fan.

That said I like my phone which lights up in the evening and talks to me, and my fan assisted double oven makes life so much easier.

And as I often do I shall conclude with an appeal for pictures and stories of great grandma’s house.

Pictures; drawings of the inside of number 523 in 1960, courtesy of Ann Love

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