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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

The 1940s suburban house:
the pantry / larder

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Plan of the walk-in pantry/larder of a 1940s UK semi-detached suburban house

Plan of the walk-in pantry/larder of a 1940s semi-detached suburban house. Most similar suburban houses had smaller kitchens with a cupboard instead of a walk-in pantry.

See the 1940s kitchen for how this plan fits into the plan of the kitchen.

As explained on the 1940s house page, the most up-to-date 1940s English suburban semi-detached houses were built in the 1930s. All had the same basic plan.

Our estate of suburban houses was, however, fortunate in that the kitchens were larger than most, and had a small walk-in pantry or larder. We always called it a pantry.

The pantry had shelves, walls and window sill tiled in white like the kitchen.

As a hangover from the old outdoor meat safes, the window had wire mesh over it.

The door of the pantry was self-closing which must have been useful with flies around. However many a small visiting child was trapped inside while playing. It was always the first place to look when a child went missing.

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The contents of the pantry

Quite apart from food, our pantry was used for storing large kitchen items.

Enamel flour bin, typical of those used before the 1950s

Enamel flour bin, typical of those used before the 1950s. Photographed at the Usk Museum.

Note the rust where the enamel has chipped.

Enamel brea dbin, typical of those used before the 1950s

Enamel bread bin, typical of those used before the 1950s. Photographed in the York Museum. Ours was just like this but the enamel was green.

On the floor my mother kept the bread bin, the flour bin, both enamel.

My mother also kept the scales on the floor. They were large, of the balance style, with their own set of iron weights. As the weights were far too heavy for use in general cooking, she relied on volumes: A quarter of a half-pound pack of margarine was 2 ounces; a rounded tablespoon of flour was 1 ounce; a rounded dessert-spoon of sugar was 1 ounce, etc.

Lesser used pots and pans were piled behind.

1940s whitewood breadboard, UK

Whitewood breadboard, photographed at a car boot sale. Ours was just like this. There was no slot for the bread knife which was kept in the knife box.

Whitewood cutlery box, common in 1940s and 1950s Britain

Whitewood cutlery box, photographed at a car boot sale.

On the lower middle shelf was the breadboard and the cutlery box. Both were made of white untreated wood, known as whitewood, and, along with our whitewood kitchen table, were scrubbed regularly with a scrubbing brush and household soap from a galvanised bucket of hot water.

More frequently used saucepans and other pans were kept behind.

The upper middle shelf was for fresh food and the top shelf for foods which kept, such as packets of dry rice and tinned foods.

If you can add anything to this page, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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