Another reference to the redevelopment of Stockport (Story) Museum – It is such a huge task which involves a thousand and one different jobs within the whole project that are at the moment, all under way. Most of the cases in the museum are being redesigned, changing what exactly they address to tell the story of Stockport. However, there are a few displays that will be staying, firm favourites and pieces that are just wonderful. One such case is this weeks Find it Friday.
‘English Rose’ kitchens were first designed by Constant Speed Airscrews (CSA) in the late 1940s. The company made aircraft parts during World War II but turned their engineering expertise to the domestic market after the war ended. Their kitchens were scientifically designed to provide maximum convenience and economy of space whilst also being incredibly pleasing to the eye.
The 1950s saw the transition of the kitchen from a simple cooking space to a multi-functioning heart of the home. The ‘English Rose’ was one of the first, if not the first, styled modular kitchen available in Britain. It lead the way in modern ergonomic kitchen design and to this day still remains a highly sought after item on the vintage market. It is the epitome of classic mid-century design. This particular kitchen was removed from a house in Stockport in the early 1990s.
Earlier this week Janny and I took to cleaning this case. This was just to ensure that it was looking the best it possibly could for display. There is also a possibility that dust accumulation on collection items could attract pests, but a quick look at the pest traps located in this case suggested no such worries and they were empty.
All the items were removed from the case to begin with and the first job was to clean the actual ‘English Rose’ fitted kitchen. Thankfully, time has been kind to the kitchen and it was not as dirty as you might imagine, even though it is likely that this was its first proper clean since it was an actual functioning kitchen. With a bucket of warm soapy water we wiped down all the surfaces, cupboards, the fridge, the tumble dryer and we mopped the checker board lino floor. The kitchen was then left to dry while the other objects were cleaned.
Some of the objects from the kitchen were recipe books/manuals and boxes; paper and card objects that could not be wet and so they were just dusted. Even though the other objects were glass, plastic and pot in material they too could not be submerged. Not only due to the fact they are collection items but it is also important that they did not lose their identification information. Most of the objects had their museum numbers marked on their base or somewhere equally inconspicuous. Using water to clean these objects runs the risk of taking this information off the object, resulting it being untraceable and unable to be connected to its MODES record. This effectively makes the object useless – all information would be lost and its relevance to the collection would go unknown.
Once the kitchen was dry renaissance wax was applied to add a layer of protection and hopefully, a clean shine! Admittedly, in photographs the kitchen looks no different apart from the rearranged objects but in real life it is lovely!
Throughout the day many ideas came up that could help improve this case, rather than change it completely like others involved in the redevelopment, such as painting the walls blue, the introduction of a family portrait to the wall and the inclusion of further items from the collection to really make that 1950’s kitchen bustle come alive.
You can find out a little more about ‘English Rose’ kitchens by following this link to a video showing when a similar one to ours featured on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
(Click the images for larger view.)