The Way We Were by Colin Ella

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Many TV programmes today highlight the renewed interest in antiques and all this has made people take a fresh survey of their various knick knacks and keep sakes, great and small, and wonder if they are living with a fortune.

Years ago we lived in a world of workaday objects and equipment just taken for granted and yet many of these items now adorn junk shop stalls and sell as antiques, often for surprisingly sizeable amounts. Looking back people must surely have disposed of much that may have gone for a lot of money at the various antique fairs around nowadays.

The coming of electricity and gas saw people getting rid of their flat irons, warming pans, scrubbing boards, poshers, huge wooden-rollered mangles, primus stoves and a host of other household items, including all those beautifully decorated chamber pots and those magnificent oil and paraffin lamps. Many of these things have become very desirable objects for the collectors.

The grandiose iron bedsteads under which those chamber pots reposed later served as stop gaps in fences or an extra side for a sheep pen. Out went lots of those gorgeous and intricately designed Victorian washstands with their ornate jugs and bowls but at least, even now, many a young married couple delight in having such wonderful memorabilia enhancing their boudoir. The tables have turned big time and folk often cannot wait to get their hands on anything which was once so common. Black-leaded fire grates, back boilers, mantlepieces, fenders, companion sets, brass kettles and pans, stone jars, puncheons, butter pats, churns, long case clocks and lots of other once everyday gadgets are now sought after.

Lots of this memorabilia features more and more at car boot sales, antique fairs and in second hand goods shops displaying all these intriguing reminders of earlier times. There is something pleasant and hugely satisfying in seeing the reverence and respect now so widely accorded to these many marvels of that erstwhile craftsmanship. I can remember sitting in the calm comfort of the glow of the graceful oil lamp with its burnished brass and ruby glass adorning the table in my grandmothers’ parlour. It sat there, more like a member of the family, than just a light. Those of you who did not throw them away were wise indeed!

Next week in Part 46 - Remember Your Lead Soldiers?