logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Heating the house with paraffin heaters in the 1940s and 1950s

Based on the webmaster's childhood recollections

Common form of paraffin heater / oil stove in the mid 20th century - British

 The most common form of paraffin heater / oil stove. Photographed in Fagans Museum of Welsh Life.

Oil stoves - heaters burning paraffin - were even more portable than electric fires because they didn't need an electric socket. Furthermore oil was relatively cheap.

That, though, was were the advantages ended. Paraffin heaters supplied only background heat, and burnt with a naked flame that was a serious fire-risk if the stove was knocked over and the oil was spilt. Also, as the stove didn't have a chimney, the burning produced a great deal of condensation, and it smelt badly. I think everyone would have felt ill if they stayed for long in the environment of an old oil heater.

In the 1950s we had a paraffin heater in the shape of a radiator. At the time, I thought this most luxurious as the homes of ordinary people did not have central heating.

If you have an old photo which would illustrate the way of life described here, I would very much appreciate a copy.

Pat Cryer

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.