23 November 2010

Britain’s Oldest Serviceable Fridge

In this age of cheaply manufactured domestic appliances and planned obsolescence it came as something of revelation to read a story about one of Britain’s oldest working (and still serviceable) appliances.

Mrs Stogdale of Oxford is the proud owner of a 58 year old General Electric fridge, similar to the one in the photo below. It has been in continuous use since she first purchased it in 1952, and in all that time, it has only ever required thermostat replacements!

I remember my own Grandmother’s ancient Coldrater fridge (ancient in the 70s, prehistoric in the 80s!) which was built like a safe with the styling of a 1950s cream and chrome Cadillac but it never required a single service. She also had an amazing Parnell washing machine with a vicious external ringer unit that was driven by a lethal looking power take off drive from the main motor and I marveled at the mechanistic quality of it all as kid. These were the days when some washing machines were more like machine tools and bristled with levers and gears. There was a sense of occasion when they were powered up and then helping to guide soaking sheets through those powerful rollers with torrents of soapy steaming water (roughly) pouring back into the tub.

Many contemporary appliances would not have this level of staying power, many would ware out or require major services within just five years and of course, there is that perennial bug bear of planned obsolescence where components our deliberately designed to fail or manufactured with limited edition specificities.

In the coming weeks we would like to find / hear more stories about long lasting and yet perpetually serviceable appliances which refuse to die. Keep watching this space.

Britain’s oldest fridge.

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