Saturday, May 07, 2011

Like a Bloody Furnace in Here

When we first lived in this house, in the late 1950s, it was slightly unusual. It had central heating, in the days when most people had coal fires.

It was fuelled by anthracite - there was a boiler in the cellar which was always kept lit. The Communist used to work in his chemist's shop on Saturday mornings and then on Saturday afternoons he would spend some time "shovelling anthracite", as he always described it, to get the fuel into the right place in the cellar for the next week.

It had definite advantages, this system. There was - and still is - a drying rack in the cellar, one of those that haul up to the ceiling. Because the boiler was there, the cellar was red-hot and any clothes placed there would dry very fast.

The boiler churned out heat at a great rate and the whole house was lovely and warm - or, as the Communist constantly put it, "It's like a bloody furnace in here."

The old Victorian windows let in plenty of air, even when shut, but this didn't matter because there was so much heat flooding round the old Victorian piping.

Of course, as a child I didn't find this central heating interesting at all. I loved watching the coal fire round at my grandparents' house and was very envious of it.

Then, sometime in the 1970s, we changed from anthracite to gas central heating.

This was better from the Communist's point of view as he no longer had to spend his Saturday afternoons shovelling anthracite.

On the other hand, it meant that the cellar was now cold and clothes didn't dry so fast. They still don't - though there is plenty of ventilation (most of it unintentional) and so clothes do dry down there.

But there was a lot less residual heat going round the house - when the heating was off, it all cooled down very fast.

And it was then that this wonder of technology came into its own.

Yes! Our electric fire! I could have one bar on, all glowing nice and warm, whilst doing my homework in the dining-room. From time to time the Communist would come in and grumble vaguely about the price of electricity.

Or sometimes I could sprawl on the sofa in the lounge in front of the television with both bars on. The Communist would look round the door. "Why do you need both bars? It's LIKE A BLOODY FURNACE IN HERE!"

Now, years later, we have a new, better, gas central heating system. The old electric fire hasn't been safe to use for many years, but just before I finally got rid of it, I had to take this photo, for nostalgia's sake.

Last winter was so cold that occasionally we had to use a - much newer - electric fire. It worked very well - - but it SO lacked the comfort factor of those brightly-glowing bars.


Blogger Debby said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:32 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

For goodness sakes make sure you don't let Ian see it before you get rid of it. It'll be in his house quicker than you can say charredtobits!

I enjoyed this post. Made me smile.

7:33 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

Oops...I had accidental duplicate posting. I hate when that happens! :-)

7:34 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I hope the heat didn't make your house like bloody Barrow in Furnace!...By the way we have still got one of those glowing bar electric fires. I swear it is at least forty five years old. Probably banned by EU directives now.

6:30 am  
Blogger Jennyta said...

We didn't have central heating but there was a very hot electric fire, wall mounted in my bedroom. However, one Saturday morning I went out and left both bars blazing all morning. When Dad discovered what I'd done, one bar was disconnected straight away. :(

8:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a two-bar fire on the bathroom wall of a flat I lived in as a student. I removed the fuse before the other girls moved in to save it being left on. They always wondered why it didn't work.

6:13 pm  
Blogger pr said...

It sensible to set your central heating so you don't feel like that. Get to grips with your controls.

3:15 pm  
Anonymous Elnora Turmelle said...

Your old house sounds like one of those vintage Victorian homes you see on TV. Do you happen to have a picture of your house before you switched to a gas central heating system?

3:47 pm  
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