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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

The early 1940s kitchen:
miscellaneous furnishings

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For how the fittings and facilities were arranged in our 1940s kitchen, see the kitchen plan. For details of the gas oven, the sink and cabinets, see their own pages. Remember that this was wartime so that little or nothing was new. Consequently, little or nothing had changed since the 1930s.


The kitchen table

Under the side window was a table with its three chairs. It was fortunate that there were only the three of us in the family as a fourth chair would have been so close to the oven as to close the walkway through the kitchen.

The chairs were dark cane ones, although they were replaced by light wood years later. The table was unvarnished wood, known as 'white-wood' which my mother scrubbed almost daily, just as her mother had done in her own childhood in the early 1900s. I understood that the table had been made in therapeutic work by WW1 soldiers recuperating at Edmonton Military Hospital, but other households would have had something similar.

Years later my mother eventually agreed, after much persuasion, to this whitewood table being covered with plastic laminate, known as Formica.

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The mangle

Further round against that wall, under some wall-shelves was the mangle which was essentially like the mangle in any Victorian or Edwardian home, although smaller. It was rolled out for use every week. Eventually, sometime in the 1950s, it was discarded and our first fridge went in its place. It was replaced by a spin dryer which went under the draining board.

My mother always regretted getting rid of her mangle. She said, with some justification that a mangle did half of the ironing because the rollers flattened and smoothed the wet washing. She never did have a washing machine, in spite of cajoling. I suppose she was brought up to believe that a woman's work was in the home and that labour-saving devices were in some way decadent.

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The pantry/larder

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

Pat Cryer, webmaster

The larder - which we called the pantry - was just large enough to walk into and it had shelves, walls and window sill tiled in white like the kitchen. It is described in more details on the pantry page.

In smaller kitchens where there was no pantry, there would have been a second cupboard, possibly used for food unless there was a nook somewhere for an indoor food safe.

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The cupboard

To the left of the pantry was a tall built-in cupboard which housed cleaning materials.

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The boiler

To the left of the door was an alcove housing the boiler which was fired with a special type of coal called Phurnacite. It had its own low ceiling which took the top part of the boiler chimney.

Two fairly large pipes went between the ceiling and the boiler. One carried water down from the cold water tank in the loft and the other carried the hot water, heated in the boiler, upstairs to the hot tank, which was in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. I suppose these pipes were rather dominantly ugly by today's standards, but they never struck me that way. My father would put his hand on the hot pipe to test whether the water was hot enough for a bath.

My mother cleared away the ashes every morning, and went outside to the coal bunker to get the boiler fuel for re-stoking the boiler.

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The back door to the garden

Typical door handle and lock from a 1930s kitchen to the back garden

Door handle and lock from the kitchen to outside.

On the wall opposite the door to the hall was the back door to the garden. It had a single glazed top window in it and was made of thin wood with thicker pieces of wood across it. It was painted magnolia.

It locked with a large heavy lock operated with a large key which always stayed in the lock. It would have been simplicity itself for a burglar to break the glass, turn the key and gain entry - but fortunately that never happened.

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