My memories of Mothers kitchen go back to the late 1940s when the Pownall family resided at 3 Penn Bridge, Bosley, which is a small rural village, located in Cheshire, England.
Our house was one of five local authority owned properties that had been built during WW2, circa 1940.
The house comprised two rooms on the ground floor level, one being a living room, and the other was the kitchen. For some reason, this type of property generally occupied by the working class population, generally referred to the kitchen as the ‘back kitchen’. I don’t know the rationale behind this fact as there was certainly no front kitchen. Maybe it was because the back kitchen was normally located at the rear of the property and accessed from outside by means of a back door.
Upstairs, there were two bedrooms and a bathroom.
I can clearly recall the layout of Mothers kitchen, which had a small integral pantry, accessed by an internal door, also a coal place that occupied the space beneath the staircase, and this too was partitioned off by an internal door.
As for the kitchen itself, there was a single steel framed widow, an internal connecting door to the living room, plus a door leading outside that was known as our back door.
In front of the window stood a large rectangular, white glazed ‘Belfast’ sink that was supported on two brick pillars. The sink had a wooden draining board with both hot and cold-water taps.
I remember there was a wall mounted shelf beneath the draining board where mother stored her saucepans. Under the sink in the gap between the brick support pillars, there was a two gallon can containing paraffin.
We always had a supply of paraffin in this can as it was used in a heater in the bathroom, plus we used it to provide light from oil lamps whenever the electricity supply failed. I’ve also seen mother pour a little paraffin down the plug hole in the kitchen sink, presumably, this was done for cleaning purposes.
Opposite the sink there was a built-in washing boiler, also known in those days as a brick copper. Built into the corner of the kitchen, it comprised a brick sided enclosure into which was mounted a copper boiler with an open top. There was a fire box situated beneath the boiler with fire bars to support the solid fuel, and a space underneath to store the ashes. The fire compartment was closed off with a small cast iron door. The brick copper was finished off with a circular wooden lid to retain the heat.
The base area of the brick copper was about 4 feet x 4 feet, and the height from the floor was about another 4 feet. The boiler itself was approximately 30 inches in diameter and in the region of 18 inches deep.
Furnishing in the kitchen comprised a table although there were no chairs, as we never ate our food in the kitchen, it was just used as a work surface and for food preparation and baking operations.
There was a wooden tray on the table where all our cutlery was stored.
On another wall, there was a two-high cupboard, where mother kept all our crockery, and in the lower, deeper section, she stored other culinary items, such as nice glasses and bowls etc.
The only other items of kitchen furnishings were a shoe cupboard, plus a wooden stand, which housed the dolly tub on a low-level shelf, plus a manually operated washing wringer, mounted upon the top of the wooden stand.
We had an electric cooker, which stood on legs, I believe it was manufactured by the ‘Creda’ electric company.
The walls of the kitchen had not been rendered with plaster, rather they had been left with a raw brick finish that we kept smartly painted.
The décor was in two parts, the lower level up to about 5 feet from the floor was painted with gloss finish oil-based paint and the colour was always cream.
The upper walls were covered with a famous brand of water-based paint named ‘Walpamur’. It was very popular during the period of 1940/50s and I remember we used to purchase it from F.W. Woolworth in Macclesfield. This was good quality paint and it didn’t rub off onto your clothes.
The ceiling was painted white with a lower quality product, known as ‘Marvo’. This did rub off onto your clothes, but not a problem when used on the ceiling.
‘Walpamur’ was nicknamed ‘Wallop’, hence the vocal expression “walloping the walls” that is still around today.
It came in various size tins and it was in the form of a paste with the consistency of clotted cream. Before applying Walpamur to the walls you had to mix it with either a special letting down product supplied by the Walpamur company, or simply you could dilute the paste with cold water.
I can clearly remember the fragrant smell of Walpamur paste and whilst the smell is difficult to describe, to me, it had a crisp fresh odour that gave a good sense of wellbeing and cleanliness.
We used to spoon the paste from its distinctive green coloured tin, into a glazed terracotta container, and then add cold water, whilst at the same time, mixing it with a tapered stick that mother mainly used on washdays.
We were creatures of habit because the only Walpamur colour I ever remember in Mothers kitchen was ‘Spring Green’. This, with the cream painted lower walls, matched perfectly with the green linoleum that covered the concrete finished floor.
Also, on the floor, was a rug about 6 feet x 3 feet, made from coconut matting.
By Chris R. Pownall
I was a WW2 baby, born in 1943 in the rural village of Bosley, located in Central England. My Father Robert passed away when I was just 9 years of age, leaving my Mother, Lucy Amelia, widowed, with me and my elder Sister, Cynthia to look after.
I left school before my 15thbirthday with no academic qualifications to my name, but I managed to secure an engineering apprenticeship at a local mill and they sponsored my further education until I was 22 years of age.
I joined the Merchant Navy for a brief spell, sailing as an engineering officer with the famous Blue Funnel Line. My ship was named Talthybius, and she had been constructed in the USA in 1944.
I later met my wife Pat, and I embarked upon a 40-year career with a global engineering manufacturing company.
When I retired, I began writing about my life story plus other things, and details of all my publications to date can be found by visiting my website https://chrispownall.weebly.com/
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