Posts Tagged ‘household goods’

An alternative to the flat iron

January 25, 2013

Before electricity, getting creases out of clothes was a job for the flat iron. These were heavy chunks of metal which were placed on a stove to heat up. When they reached what was deemed a suitable temperature they were used to press out the creases from the washing process. Meanwhile, if you had two such irons, a second one was warming on the stove.

Alternatively, you could have a Dalli or, as we have at Market Lavington Museum, its smaller version, the Dallinette.

A German made Dallinette iron dating from about 1912. This item is at Market Lavington Museum

A German made Dallinette iron dating from about 1912. This item is at Market Lavington Museum

Manufacturer's marks

Manufacturer’s marks

These irons, of German origin allowed users to open them up and put smouldering charcoal inside. This enabled them to maintain heat.  A damper allowed some control over temperature by altering the airflow to the fuel. It was operated by the large knob at the back of the iron.

The fuel chamber in the Dallinette

The fuel chamber in the Dallinette

The top of the iron opens to allow the fuel to be loaded and ignited – and then one iron was all you needed. Adverts made great play of this advantage over flat irons.

An advert for Dalli irons

An advert for Dalli irons

This advert is undated, but makes it clear that the Dalli was pure and perfect. It also indicates that our Dallinette was really for light work and travelling. Another advert claims that the Dalli promotes peace and harmony in the laundry. In part this was because ironing could be done without a hefty and hot stove, needed to keep flat irons warm.

The Dalli even solved marriage problems!

The Dalli even solved marriage problems!

Both ads come from a wonderful website at

Do take a look if you like old and interesting things.

We think our Dallinette dates from about 1912. They were in production from the end of the nineteenth century until about 1930.


A Hot Water Bottle

August 26, 2012

In the days of the rich having servants, one of the jobs for the downstairs folk was to warm beds using warming pans. These items were often made of a copper or brass container with a long, turned wooden handle. Hot coals were put in the container. A servant could them push it between the sheets to pre-warm a bed before the occupants arrived.

After the First World War, servants began to be found only in the homes of the very rich. But this was long before the time of central heating. Your average house probably had a kitchen range to provide heat for all. Bedrooms were cold in the winter. There’ll be many older folk who remember ice on bedroom windows. Did we all try to turn the random patterns in the window ice into imaginative scenes? Getting into bed in such a room was an unpleasant experience – so enter the hot water bottle.

Here were the requirements. Such a bottle had to be waterproof and have an effective seal to hold in the hot water. It also had to be able to withstand the thermal shock of near boiling water being poured into it.  Glazed stoneware met the requirements. Such bottles became standard household items and we have one at Market Lavington Museum.

Stoneware hot water bottle at Market Lavington Museum

Stoneware hot water bottles were often referred to as ‘pigs’. Some say this was because the carrying handle – supposed to stay cool enough to manage, looked like a pig’s snout. Others suggest that in Scotland, cylindrical, stoneware bottles were always called pigs, no matter what their function and we Sassenachs adopted the term just for hot water bottles.

Ours has no maker’s name but is slightly unusual in having a blue outer glaze. We know almost nothing about it. It was given to the museum by a White Street lady and was categorised as mid-20th century.  We think it might be earlier than that.

The marks on the base of the hot water bottle

The only marks tell us that it has a two pint capacity and there is a letter M also embossed in the base.

Can anyone tell us any more?

Granny’s Sitting Room

July 30, 2012

Having introduced Sybil Perry’s memories yesterday, today we are going to look at her early memories of her Granny Smith’s sitting room. When Sybil and her parents returned to Market Lavington in 1924, it was this house they lived in – Broadwell House on White Street.

Here are some memories of that sitting room, nearly ninety years ago.

Sybil’s memories of the sitting room at Broadwell House, Market Lavington in the 1920s

Amongst the many delights of Sybil’s memories are the sketches she has drawn.

Stuffed bird under a glass dome

The fireplace

bellows to get the fire going

The toasting fork

The dog on the mantelshelf

The gramophone

What fantastic memories they make, not only for Market Lavington. They are genuine pictures of life in the 1920s.

A Virol Jar

March 31, 2011

A Virol Jar - one of the Treasures of Market Lavington which can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

Virol was marketed as ‘The Ideal Food’ It was ‘A preparation of bone marrow’ and ‘an ideal fat food for children and invalids’

Virol was first produced, experimentally,  by the Bovril company at their Old Street, London works in 1899. Presumably they decided the product was good for in 1900 the Virol company  became a separate section of Bovril and within the decade it was regarded as an independent company.

Adverts persuading people to buy must have managed to fill parents with guilt, if they didn’t give their children Virol. Simple phrases such as ‘School children need Virol’ were used in adverts that looked rather like editorial content. The message was also shown on enamel advertising signs.

In 1920 production of Virol moved to modern premises in Perivale in Middlesex. Production ceased sometime during the second world war.

Many of the delightful, earthenware jars survive. We have just one small jar at Market Lavington Museum.

A High-level Cistern

August 15, 2010

The oldest residents of Market Lavington remember a time before the sewerage system was laid in Market Lavington. And speak of earth closets and bucket lavatories, which were emptied by people with the contents, spread on allotments.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that flush toilets began to be installed in the village, and even then the flushing just moved the lavatory contents into the local stream via the rainwater drains. The sewerage system was installed in the 1950s.

A reminder of these early days of the flush lavatory has just been donated to the museum. Just a few days ago, this blog featured a quotation for a job from W Hopkins and Son and our new acquisition is a high-level lavatory cistern, supplied by Hopkins.

High-level lavatory cistern - just donated to Market Lavington Museum

Let’s take a closer look at the legend on the front.

The cistern was supplied by Hopkins Brothers of Market Lavington

This cistern comes from a house on Drove Lane where it was probably installed when new and was in use until very recently.

We do not think that the cistern, which is made of cast iron, was actually produced in the village although we can find no manufacturer’s mark on it, just the Hopkins Bros, Mkt. Lavington badge as shown. The Hopkins were builders’ merchants but also produced and piped gas within the village. They had various premises on Church Street.

A Pin Tin

July 21, 2010

In a museum it is always good to have items that add atmosphere to a general scene. Of course, at Market Lavington Museum everything has a connection with our parish but even so, some are of a general nature and today we feature one such item – a tin for pins.

This is The Lady’s Own Toilet Pin Box – clearly the best pins with perfect points. They (we have two such tins) contained a quarter of a pound weight of pins of assorted sizes.

The Lady's Own Toilet Pin Box at Market Lavington Museum

Toilet pins have nothing to do with washing or the lavatory. The word ‘toilet’ derives from the French toile, which means material so they were pins for material. The special feature was a large head (originally of glass) and a thinner shaft so that a smaller hole was made in the material.

One of our tins has a well kept inside.

Inside the tin lid which dates from about 1890

The tin dates from about 1890 although it could be as recent as the 1920s.

These tins appear to have got all round the world, to judge from sales on Internet auction sites. The same sites would suggest very little value, but we are delighted to have two such boxes at Market Lavington Museum. You can find them on the mantelshelf in the kitchen.

Mouse Trap

July 18, 2010

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Controlling the numbers of unwanted creatures has always been a concern of country folk so no wonder there are mouse traps at Market Lavington Museum. Here we feature a home made ‘humane’ trap from more than 100 years ago.

Late Victorian home-made mouse trap at Market Lavington Museum

Humane traps catch a mouse alive so that they can be released again into an area where it is deemed the little rodents might do less harm.

This particular trap features an entrance and no doubt an aroma, beloved by mice, could drift out through this from some bait, placed inside. Once inside the galvanized mesh tunnels led the mouse to the bait.

Perhaps a really intelligent mouse could follow its track back out, but the idea was that they would seek the light at the top of the box which was blocked off by the perforated metal.

Later, the setter of the trap could check to see if anything had been caught, and if so he could pick the box up by the little wire handle and carry it to a chosen mouse release spot where the lid could be opened to allow our furry friend (fiend if you prefer) to escape.