48th scale inspiration.

I have recommenced modelling more 48th scale bits and pieces.  In real life I am still stuck in the bathroom a bit, which is quite contrary of me because in miniature I’m stuck in the kitchen. 

Having completed a range of options for cooking, including options in ranges, for cooking, I have now moved on to the washing up.  I’ve made the really old sinks and coppers.  My grandmother told me about washing using a copper.  The copper was a built-in device, usually in the scullery.  A brick housing contained a metal (hence the term ‘copper’) tub poised over an enclosed brick fireplace.  My grandmother related how the whole family would rise at five, or six in the winter and get the fire started under the copper.  In different areas of the country the fire would be composed of different combustible materials.  In the North-East, where my grandmother was brought up in a pub by the River Tyne, the coppers were coal fired.  It took up to an hour for the coal fire to be burning strongly enough to heat all the water in the copper.  The water was supplied by pouring in jugs, at first filled from a well and later from a pump in the yard.  The washing that went in first were all the children’s white smocks that they wore through the week over their ‘good’ clothes.  It was a matter of pride that the children should be well turned out, and no mean feat in a dirty pub, filled with coal miners and ship yard workers and sand or sawdust on the floor.  The smocks were swished around in the boiling water, scrubbed against a ridged wash board and dunked until they were white.  They were mangled outside in the yard to get rid of most of the water and hung on a clothes line to dry.  Over the course of the morning all the household linen and clothes in descending order of cleanliness, finishing with the underwear, was boil washed, scrubbed, rinsed, mangled and hung up.  The aim was to finish by lunchtime when men returning from work would be fed an ‘easy’ lunch made from leftovers from the Sunday roast, which might be a shepherds pie or anything that could be prepared the night before and put in the range to cook itself.  When I last spoke to my oldest aunt she described how one Sunday had featured an entire sheep’ head, much to the family’s consternation.  Her brother had made jokes about picking the sheep’s nose, after which no one would touch it.

After lunch the copper was emptied, via a tap into jugs and the water disposed of down the grating in the yard.  The copper was scoured with sand to clean it, the fire was let to go out and the ashes raked out and also put in the yard.  In earlier times the ash was reused to make lye, the water was poured through the ashes and collected though in my grandmother’s childhood in the late 19th century, soft soap was used.

Having modelled a selection of antique washing aids I then moved into last century.  I could find plenty of pictures of old sinks for sale, on salvage sites and in books but never with the contemporary taps.  I searched high and low but on posh ‘how to refurbish your kitchen in cute antique style’ sites and in books the taps have always been replaced.  Where oh where to find a picture of a 1950s kitchen sink with taps attached?


In my own old photograph album, eventually.

Here I am taking a bath in the sink in the 1950s!  How handy of me, complete with taps!

This isn’t any old sink, at all.  Have you seen the TV series ‘Butterflies’ starring Wendy Craig and Nicholas Lyndhurst as her younger son?  The house chosen for the outside shots was the one my father built by hand at the weekends, in Cheltenham, when I was a baby.  When Nicholas Lyndhurst goes along the landing to his bedroom over the front door, that’s my bedroom he is going into.  The kitchen on the stage set, as far as I remember, has the sink centrally facing the TV viewer; here it is in reality as it was built, overlooking the garden, which is probably where I had been playing to get dirty enough to need a bath in the sink.

Sadly we only lived in the lovely house a couple of years; my grandfather found a building business to buy in the North East and we moved back there when I was three.

There are few pictures of me when this small, I think perhaps we didn’t have a camera but how extremely handy that the picture there is of me features a genuine kitchen sink and taps circa 1952 or 3.

So I’m off to do some modelling, with Milliput.

Kitchen sink plumber ho!


JaneLaverick.com – that sinking feeling.

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