Machines in the Home

Rebecca Weaver and Rodney Dale


 One of the eight Discoveries & Inventions series for the British Library

Below are some pictures from the book…


The Aga

The Aga, Gustav Dalen's invention. Introduced in 1924, versions of it are still sold today.

In 1924 Gustav Dalen produced his Aga. The idea was basically very simple: a massive metal fire unit, kept at a very high temperature, which stored, radiated or conducted heat as required. What made the Aga so economical in use was the thick layer of insultaing material all around it. It was guaranteed to use no more than one and a half tons of coal a year.




Morphy-Richards iron – 1939

A 'perfect gift' – the Morphy-Richards iron, 1939.




The Premier 'Washerup' – 1920

The Premier 'Washerup', (1920).

Dishwashers feature prominently in mid-century patent books and tade journals, but, as with early washing machines, they were geared to large commercial establishments where water was heated and a form of power (usually steam) was available – for example Daguin's machine of 1855.

C H Hope-Vere's machine of 1875 forced jets of water on to the dirty articles. This was a popular method which appeared during a spate of dishwashing inventions in the early years of this century – for example A W Bodell's machine of 1906.

The alternative method was to use a pump to circulate the water between the articles, as in Goldman's machine of 1905. M Fridjian's design of the same year repeatedly plunged a perforated casing containing the dishes into a tank of water.

In most people's eyes, the dishwasher was a supremely new-fangled gadget, and a general apathy inhibited its development. In 1923 House and Garden ran an article entitled: 'Overcomingthe drudgery of the Dishcloth'. This offered advice on three basic types of dishwasher then available. One consisted of nothing more than: a stream of hot water from a washing nozzle attached to the hot water tap and directed by hand. The nozzle contains a soap mixer operated by a thumb lever, so that soapy water is delivered for washing and clear for rinsing. This is only suitable when the supply of hot water is plentiful.

Another, though this time an electric one, was also hand filled – from a kettle. What followed next is unclear. Presumably the electric motor drove plungers which sent the water over the dishes. Yet another, the Blick: is one of the simplest and best of machines worked by hand… The plates stand in a special rack above the water which is thrown over them by a revolving propellor.

The Blick follows the same principle as Schlesinger's of 1870; however, it is pre-dated by an American patent of 1865, and differs from some machines today only in the level of sophistication.

For all that, early machines did not wash the dishes well enough, and it was not until improved soaps were developed in the 1950s and 1960s that the machines became efficient enough to warrant consumer attention.


 Back To Top Of Page

Return To The Blurb