• Heating at DR

    Hi, during a conversation with Mummy recently, we spoke about the heating which used to be set up at 9DR. She told me that originally there didn't use to be any heating in any of the rooms; the house had been built with fireplaces only, not radiators or Central Heating. Each room had a fireplace where presumably no fire was done any more in Mum's time because she didn't mention any (but Jo does, here). When she was young, the house was heated only thanks the white-tiled stove in the kitchen (or dining-room) which according to her heated also the scullery (kitchen) and thanks to a pipe, another room or corridor, I've forgotten which. It used to be fed with coal, which was delivered directly into the cellar from a hole in the passageway between the two houses. I don't know if somebody has a picture of this stove. I only have this one, where the right side of the stove is visible and the string which served to hang drying cloths :


    Here are the photos I have of some of the fireplaces, most of which come from pictures found on the net showing similarly built houses:

    Heating at DR

    Heating at DR

    Heating at DR

    Heating at DR

    Heating at DR

    Heating at DR

    Heating at DR

    I think that probably most of these fireplaces had been the natural location for the electric heaters installed later on, as we can see on some of these photos. I'm not sure whether Mum meant anything else when she used the word "radiators". She said the electric fires (she might have mentioned something about gas heaters too - yes, I do remember the gas tap in the wall of the front room) were set up as a replacement for the polluting coal fires which London was phasing out at one stage. Perhaps people got financial incentives to do so? We had in fact been talking about the "false" fire in the front room, because I remembered it featured a kind of artificial representation of a fire created by electric lights, a very ordinary mock-fire seen in many other houses. But Mum told me it nevertheless hid a real electric heating:


    I don't think she told me when precisely it had been set up, but probably later than when we had stayed at 9DR in the early sixties. Because she mentioned an episode which marked the beginning of the installation of the radiators in the house. When Paco was born (October 1961), he was put in the upper back room with the two of us, and one night it was so cold that his fingers (which he had left out of the blankets) were found the following morning to be all swollen from the cold. This apparently triggered Monsieur Père into putting an electric heater in our room, and then extending it to the rest of the house. I suppose you all remember the electric string-activated heater which was present in the upstairs bathroom - I think there was some other similar ones at Auntie Olive's.

    I don't know how the Hughes fared in terms of hot water: but I suppose there must have been a hot water system built-in, because all the water appliances were fitted with hot and cold taps. We certainly used to have hot baths when we stayed at 9DR, but this photo would seem to show that the hot water was perhaps not always available:

    Heating at DR

    On the other hand, perhaps the tub was a solution to save on the hot water.

    « Palmers Green talesCousin anecdotes »

  • Comments

    Monday 1st September 2014 at 21:36

    I think the gas tap was originally for a live flame poker to light the solid fuel (coke) fire, until the conversion to natural gas. There was a lot of paraphernalia for managing the fire in the hearth area too. Quite a messy business, although much improved with an enclosed grate as in the kitchen of No7. 

    You probably weren't around in Wintertime, but they used to have coal fires in waiting rooms in Palmers Green and Enfield Chase railway stations until 1974 at least. I last saw this luxury during a trip on the Bluebell Railway Santa Special, where they specialise in nostalgia. But even that were a long time ago, now.

    Monday 1st September 2014 at 22:42

    Wow, amazing, a flame poker at 9DR?? I'd never realized that.

    Thanks for the coal fires info, I had never heard of that, but of course it makes sense. In French stations now they have open-air electric heating columns, which only heat if you are very near, and to me looks like a frightful waste of energy.

    Tuesday 2nd September 2014 at 22:03

    Yes but isn't electricity cheap in France because so much is nuclear generated? I once heard a ski chalet owner say that his property was heated all Winter long for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere. And I woudn't be surprised if EDF rates charged in the UK are subsidising cheap electric in France.

    Tuesday 2nd September 2014 at 23:08

    Well... gosh, maybe you're right! Sorry 'bout that oops

    Suivre le flux RSS des commentaires

    Add comment

    Name / User name:

    E-mail (optional):

    Website (optional):