Sunday, 4 February 2018

The Airing Cabinet

Does anyone remember these? My mum had one when my brother was a baby.  As I have said previously my mum was pretty anxious about making sure that our clothes were properly dried and aired none more so than in the cold winter months.  I remember that mum would only have it in use whilst we were in the house and when it was on we were kept at by and away from it.  As it was made of metal it got very hot on the outside very quickly.

Along with other young mums when my brother was born she had a heck of a job getting the Terry nappies dried and that is when they invested in one of these cabinets which details its history here:

and here

This bit of kit was the forerunner of the tumble drier (many moons ahead) and a different way around things.  I don't remember the name but I definitely remember the picture of this cabinet and it had wooden slats in the top on which you used to drape your ironing for airing or wrung out washing for drying. Mum had ours years and used it pretty much until they bought the first tumble drier.  It was then that I was lent it (not long after I got married) for a little while and then it went back to Mum and Dad's.

I am not sure what happened to it.  I suspect that they had no further use for it and it was taken to the tip.  I would have loved that airing cabinet if I had known as although being a little battered it was a hard working member of our family for many years.  It also did a sterling job.

We do not know we are born these days compared to the labours  of our predecessors and the hours and hours it used to take to accomplish things.  I know one thing I could not be without my washing machine or indeed my tumble drier.  I rely heavily on this with working all week however in the summer months I do line dry as much as I can I also dry clothes off hangers (like my hand washed jumpers) as I do not want to shrink my good jumpers.  If the washing machine goes down there is mass panic as I do appreciate the labours involved in washing clothes by hand and keeping things clean.  So in the greater scheme of things the thing I would most hate to be without is my washing machine fastly followed by my tumble drier.

Today we have different variants of the same thing more lately the airing frames/hangers from Lakeland which are electric.  A new take on an old idea.

Catch you later.




  1. I've never had a tumble drier, nor did my mother. My father built a conservatory to join the two farm cottages together (a one up one down and a two up, two down). This meant she could dry clothes outside even when it was raining and then everything got finished off in front of the rayburn in the kitchen, which was our only heat source. When we moved up to the farm, we again had a conservatory outside the back door, specifically for drying clothes. She always had a very good spin drier, which made things easier. In my first house as a student, my father made me a hanging rack to go above the cooker in the kitchen. It was so efficient, any washing placed there would be dry by the next morning if I couldn't dry it outside on the line. I really miss that rack but our current house (we've been here since 1981) doesn't have high enough ceilings and we have no conservatory. I've raised three children here, with terry nappies and I've always dried on our radiators and then things are put away in the airing cupboard. I know I'm very fortunate.

  2. Hi Sarah we lived in an old Council house with one fire in the front room. No radiators - no central heating of any kind just a coal fire in the front room. We used to go to bed dressed to the nines with loads of quilts and blankets on top and frequently woke up with thick ice on the inside of the windows. I know a lot of families did; but in that house at the tender age of two I started off with the arthritis being unable to walk first thing and collapsing on my face with extreme pains in my legs. Mum was always terrified about damp and being poorly as a result I think it related to things that happened in her own childhood, they had it really tough 10 children living in a two up two down) and two adults then my granddad abandoned the family as did his family leaving my grandmother to fend for herself and the children) This cabinet certainly did the trick for Mum. The hanging rack above a Rayburn or Aga I am familiar with as my Great Aunt's home had this and also my Uncle's home. My Nan had a small Rayburn which was the only cooking source in the house (and no height to have a rack)but they had two fires in the dining room and the front room and quite frequently the clothes horse would be draped around the fire. Mum had the twin tub with the drier as well as after me burning my fingers by putting them on the side accidentally and ending up with massive blisters on my hands we were shooed out whilst she was washing.

    Your Dad was a good un if he built a conservatory for your mum to dry the washing in. I bet that was ideal. I don't have an airing cupboard either. When the Landlord put the new heating system in the boiler was popped in the small bedroom on the outside wall (we do not have a hot water tank) it is all done from the new boiler. What was the airing cupboard has now been turned into a small walk in closet for some of my clothes as it is off my main bedroom. You have to do what you can with what you have but on the wish list is an Aga/Rayburn and a hanging rack above it if I ever am lucky enough to have my own home. Very unlikely at the present but you have to dream. I do line dry where possible but as I am out of the house by 8:30am most days and then do not return until 6:00pm it is not always possible especially during the winter months hence the tumble drier. If there was a different set up i.e. it was my own house I would think very carefully and perhaps create a drying area under cover but we privately rent and that is not an option at present. Your home sounds really lovely and in a lovely area. One day I hope to have the same. Lovely to hear from you and hope you are keeping well.Take care. Tricia (aka Pattypan) xx


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Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)