Electricity runs the world!
Today electricity powers almost everything we use in our
homes and workplaces. However, this hasn't always been the
This exhibition takes a look at some of the household items that
were used for everyday tasks in the days before electricity. Some
take advantage of nature while others are mechanical or involve a
lot of manual labour.
Left: 1920s Meat Safe used by the Reading family on
Wellmeadow Farm in Carnamah.
Prior to kerosene and electric refrigerators, meat safes were used
to keep meat and other food cool and fresh. They also kept
flies and other insects away from the food.
in about 1930 on
the vernadah of their home on Glencairn
Farm in Three Springs.
A round meat safe can be seen hanging in the background. In 2011 an
87 year old Jean recalled that at the time it was "a very modern way
of keeping meat".
This particular type of meat safe was designed to be hung in a cool
place out of the sun where it would catch the breeze and be out of
reach of ants. Below is a 1932 newspaper advertisement for Foy's
department store in Perth from The Daily News
Left: Kitchen Mixer used by the Heinrich family on
Wongyarra Farm in Carnamah.
This revolutionary device meant you could move two mixers with the
turning of just one handle! Turning the handle moves the large cog
underneath, which then turns the two smaller cogs which move the
The mixer was used to combine the ingredients for cakes and also had
a hook for the mixing of dough to be made into bread.
Right: Aladdin Kerosene Lamp
Candles, open fireplaces and lamps that burnt oil or kerosene were
used to provide light during the dark of night. However, this came
with its risks.
Farm in Carnamah was playing his guitar-mandolin-harp
one evening in 1935 when he paused to fill a lamp with kerosene. In
the process the lamp burst into flames and set his kitchen on fire.
He found water did little to extinguish the flames so soaked a
hessian bag in his bathtub, which was fortunately full of water, and
used that to successfully beat out the flames. Others weren't so
Below is an advertisement from The North Midland Times
newspaper announcing Cowderoys store
becoming Aladdin lamp dealers
Above: Metters Improved No. 2 Wood Stove
A fire would be lit behind the two small doors near the top, which would
then heat both the stovetop and the oven underneath. It was
effective but resulted in a very hot kitchen during summer. The
above stove came
from the house behind the
butcher's shop at 14 Macpherson Street, Carnamah.
Left: Charcoal Clothes Iron
This iron could be heated by leaving it on top of the
stove. It could also be filled with hot coals from a fire to keep it
hot for longer.
Right: 1930s Petrol Clothes Iron
This Coleman Petrol Iron was advertised in The Sunday Times
newspaper in 1937 as being "worth it's weight in gold" as it was a
big improvement on previous irons that had to be heated on a fire.
"Lights instantly, no pre-heating whatever. You just strike a match,
turn a valve and it's going. You can regulate the heat... hot,
medium or low... for any kind of ironing you want to do."
Above: Manual hair clippers used by
Tom Poole of
Elberton Farm in
Pulling the two handles of the clippers inwards moves the blades.
Tom Poole, pictured standing on the right, regularly cut local men's
hair during the 1920s and early 1930s. The above clippers returned
to England with him in 1938, however, made their way back to the
by post 75 years later in 2013, thanks to Tom's
Above: Remington 30 Typewriter
Typewriters allowed people to produce neat printed letters. Each key
is on a lever and when the key is hit it lifts the other end onto a
ribbon containing ink, which then marks the paper with the letter. Prior to computers many people took
courses on using typewriters and worked full time as typists.
Right: 1920s Glass Washboard
Washboards were used to wash clothes manually by hand. The washboard
would be placed in a laundry trough or large bucket, and marks or
stains on clothes would
then be rubbed with soap and water against the corrugated glass.
Right: Plunger Washing Machine and 1947
advertisement from The West Australian newspaper:
"Does not injure the daintiest laces of lingerie... The Lehmann is
the only Washer to employ Compressed Air and Suction. When the
plunger is pressed down, the air and suds are forced through the
clothes turning them at the same time."
This washer was used to wash clothes during the 1940s by
Mrs Moreen Reading
Farm in Carnamah.
Many people also manually make their own soap!
Mrs Gladys Armstrong
Farm in Winchester received an honourable mention for her
The Sunday Times
newspaper's 1927 recipe competition:
"Home Made Soap - Six quarters rain water, 6lb. good clean fat, 1lb.
caustic soda, ¾lb. resin, ½lb. borax. Put in a kerosene tin, bring
to a boil and simmer for two hours."
Below: Singer Sewing Machine
Pushing your foot down on a peddle underneath the machine
would pull on a cord attached to a wheel. The wheel would then turn,
moving a shaft that made the needle move up and down.
Mrs Jean Tilly
the below Singer in Adelaide in 1927 and it came with her to Coorow
In 1926 blacksmiths Henry Parkin & Son
of Carnamah expanded their
business with the establishment of a power station that provided
electricity to their premises and The Don Tearooms
Street (now our museum). Within a year they were providing electric
lighting to a number of homes and businesses and were contracted by
the Carnamah District Road Board
to light the streets of Carnamah.
“Mr Parkin, who is undertaking the lighting of the town, was
re-erecting some of the electric wires, and it appears that one was
rather low across the road, and Mr Lang
, who was driving his car,
ran into it, and the windscreen and hood were wrenched off.”
– The Midlands Advertiser
Above: Tom Parkin,
the 'son' of Parkin & Son, behind their electric power
generator at 3 Yarra Street in Carnamah
Parkin & Son began providing a continuous power service in 1933 when
local butcher Fred Lee
Pyramid Tea Rooms
town’s first electric refrigerators. Prior to this time the power
went off overnight and was restarted each morning. An additional
generator was needed but caused a stir when it interfered with the
reception of twelve local radios!
In 1952 Parkin & Son were providing electricity to 87 clients, which
included a few farmers whose homes were close to town. The
powerhouse was sold to the Moora firm Saleebas Pty Ltd in 1953 and
later to Joe Turner and then Bob Kestel. In 1970 it was taken over
by the State Electricity Commission (S.E.C.) who closed it down
after connecting Carnamah to the state network. Until power lines
were built to farms, many farming families had their own 32-volt generator
to provide electricity to their homes.
Below: Receipt to Mrs Kate Kenny for
paying her electricity bill for the month of July 1952, signed by
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