Monday, May 12, 2014

Collection Highlights: Wooden fridge made by Boulton and Paul

Wakefield Museums hold over 120,000 historic objects that have been acquired on behalf of those who live, work in or visit the Wakefield district.

Many of the objects are on display at our museum venues, but we can't display everything at once! This series of blog posts will highlight some of the collections, both on display and off, by showing a photograph and some information about the object.
We'd love to know your thoughts about the objects featured in this series so if you have a memory linked to an object or if you can add some more background information about them please do leave a comment for us.
Wooden fridge made by Boulton and Paul

For those lucky enough to afford a fridge in the 1920s and 1930s the wooden cabinet was all you could get. The modern domestic refrigerator was first introduced into Britain in the 1920s and it was housed in a wooden cabinet. Electrolux made the first metal cabinet fridges in the early 1930s.

Today we can’t imagine living without a fridge, and in the 1920s and 1930s people had to shop for food almost daily because they couldn’t keep it cool. Fridges didn’t take off in Britain until 1934, following an unusually hot summer; by 1939 two hundred thousand homes had one. They were very different to today’s fridges, the most popular design, made by BTH, was nicknamed the ‘beehive’ because it had a large cylindrical cooling unit on the top.

After the Second World War (1939 – 1945) fridges were very much in demand. Another very hot summer in 1959 persuaded many homeowners to buy one; they were designed into newly planned kitchens built during the housing boom of the 1950s and 1960s – interestingly in the 1960s the wooden cabinet made a comeback! Ever since they have been an important part of kitchen design. Now that we tend to shop once a week at supermarkets and we buy more products which need to be kept cool for days or weeks, refrigerators are essential.

Norwich based company Boulton and Paul made this wooden fridge in the 1940s. The company started out life as an Ironmongers in the late 1700s and moved into aircraft production in the early to mid 1900s, producing planes for both world wars. Following the Second World War, aircraft continued to be built in Wolverhampton whilst the Norwich factory produced high quality kitchenware.

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