/ Home & Energy

Your tales of retro kitchen appliances

In 2011, we put out a call for owners of old appliances to come forward and tell us all about them. Since then, we’ve received dozens of stories from proud owners about their vintage appliances that simply refuse to die.

Last year, we asked ‘is older better when it comes to kitchen appliances?‘. The stories we received were a fascinating insight into the longevity of the appliances in our homes. But they also shone a light on the way older design ideas consistently creep back into modern product design.

One such story came from Gina Bury who told us about her National NE6330 microwave, which dates back to 1978 and is still used everyday. Gina’s microwave has 33 years on the clock and setting it is akin to tuning an old radio – you move an indicator along a dial to set the cooking time. But in design terms, it doesn’t necessarily look its age.

Coming back into fashion

Gina’s microwave is square-fronted rather than rectangular, and you can see this kind of design in the Whirlpool Max range of microwaves – the ones that look like portable TVs. Other modern looking design touches include a pull-down door, which can also be found on many modern microwaves models, including from AEG, LG, Neff, Panasonic, Samsung and Whirlpool.

It’d be interesting to see if you’ve noticed any classic design coming through in modern appliances, or if you’ve spotted any retro appliances in other peoples’ houses starting to look ‘modern’ again. Please comment if you have any examples or, even better, send us a picture and let us know how old your appliance is.

Retro-reliability

Talking about her National microwave (a Panasonic brand from back in the day), Gina said:

‘I prefer it to my newer cooker. It’s heavy by today’s standards but it’s very easy to use and the simmer feature is great for casseroles. I’ll be sorry when it gives up the ghost.’

We also heard from Mark Kelly, whose Baby Belling cooker from 1961 baked six Christmas cakes for friends and family last year. And Vicky Millins said her Morphy Richards iron from the mid-50s lacks steam but it’s still great for clothes repairs. In our previous Conversation, Pat Manley shared this story about a very popular old appliance:

‘As a big treat, when we got married in 1969, we bought a Kenwood Chef and it’s still going strong. We had to buy a new plastic (acryllic?) lid for the bowl as it was crazed and then fractured. Absolutly no further problems.’

Do you have any appliances that don’t look or act their age? Or do you suspect that they just don’t make them like they used to?

Comments
Member

My grandma had her fridge for forty years and it was still going strong when she replaced it a few years only because she was updating her kitchen. I was devastated when this piece of retro genius was consigned to the heap!

Member
Raymond Gardiner says:
23 May 2012

My late mothers cylnder Goblin 702 Vacium Cleaner replacing older Goblin cylinder vacium cleaner in & around 1960 STLL OPERATES TO THIS DAY. – MANUFACTURED IN BELFAST. (Head quarters was Leatherhead Surrey.) Old Fashion Quality – built to last

Member
Peter Ashton says:
23 May 2012

My parents lived in Montreal Canada from 1954 -1958. Furnishing their first Apartment in 1954 they bought a Roy “Trophy” 5ft Refrigerator. On their return to this Country in 1958 the Roy came with them and was set up in the kitchen of this house. Obviously the voltage was different so my Father (being an Electriian) fitted a 110 volt Transformer to convert to the 240 volts of the UK Supply. The Refrigerator is still working perfectly with the original bulb to light the interior and deserves a mention I feel in the “still going strong” list.

Member

Can’t believe the bulb is still going 60 years later… it’s achieved you our Comment of the Week: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/fares-food-and-free-banking/ 🙂

Member
M G Bateman says:
23 May 2012

We have a Tricity upright deep freezer Model 6134 which was purchased in 1974 and which has never been repaired and is still working. In anticipation of the need to replace it we have had three other deep freezers in the meantime.

Member
M Curzon says:
24 May 2012

I am still using my mother’s Hoover dustette bought before then 2nd WW. model 100 number M352597. She used it to clean the stair carpet and furniture. Since I inherited it in 1995 I have used it in my work shop to remove sawdust and shavings from my lathe and workbench . It has a universal motor DCor AC 225-250 V 0-60 cycles 140 W. The bag has needed patching but it continues to clean very efficiently.

Member
Joep de Fraiture says:
26 May 2012

Bought a best buy Bosch washing machine 12 years ago, a logixx WFL2450, and still runs and have had no repairs and is still running strong ! Thanks best buys !

Member
Colin Bishop says:
27 May 2012

On 23 February 1967 my wife, Florence, purched an AEG SD 4528 Spin Dryer for £26/15/0. This machine has been used two or three times each week for the past 45 years and apart from new rubber feet has never needed any maintenance or repair.

Member

I bought a Ferguson 14″ Television back in 1984 and it’s never needed any repairs, still going strong

Member
Zia Qadeer says:
28 May 2012

I bought a National Genius microwave in 1974. It has not given me any trouble so far. I am using it daily two or three times a day

Member
Hilary says:
29 May 2012

We were given a GEC 2-bar electric fire as a wedding present in 1966, which is still in occasional use. I think the cable may have been replaced and possibly the odd fuse.
Our fridges date from 1976 – Electrolux RF750 and larder fridge RF751C. They work well and we’ve fitted ‘savaplugs’ to make them more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, the seals are starting to go and can’t be replaced because they’re not metric. Infuriatingly, there’s nothing comparable to the capacity of these fridges on the market now.
I have a still-working Kenwood Major food mixer bought in 1979.
My steam iron is a Rowenta bought in 1989.

Member
Malcolm Brown says:
29 May 2012

I’m not sure whether this qualifies as it’s not a kitchen appliance, but I have a hand operated cylinder lawnmower by Ransomes from 1963, still able to cut grass better than any modern machine I know. Now stored away in the garden shed (of the same vintage), it only needed a squirt of WD40 after a long time of no use, to get it going as good as new. I have a photo – how do I send it to you?

Member
David Clayton says:
31 May 2012

In 1978 we bought an Electrolux WH31 washing machine, which is still going strong. The only repairs – all done on a DIY basis – have been two new door-catches and in 1992 replacement of the electro-mechanical timer (about 60 connecting wires!).

Member
Tony Watts says:
31 May 2012

We were married in 1959 and with our wedding present money we bought a LEC P60 refrigerator.
This appliance has been in daily use ever since and stands proudly in our kitchen to this day. During our 53 years of marriage it has survived 7 house moves. It has that rounded corners retrro style that is in fashion today on expensive fridges. We also still use an Electrolux ZA65 cylinder vacuum cleaner purchased at the same time but it only used now to clean the car and to loan to family and friends when they come here to clean their cars and ask to borrow our vacuum!

Member
stuart tait says:
1 June 2012

Kelvinator big chest freezer still going strong after 40 years. Should we replace?

Member
Diane Gledhill says:
2 June 2012

I have had a Kenwood Cheffette food mixer with bowl and stand since 1972. Its liquidizer died years ago but the rest is still going strong.
I also have a Swann microwave, bought in 1986, which has been in constant daily use from the beginning.

Member

We have a Zanussi TD100 Tumble Dryer bought in 1986. The only two (DIY) repairs needed have been replacing the polythene drum bearers, some years ago, and recently replacing a frayed & melted section of wire at the connection. Advantage of a simple design (clockwork timer, no electronics) is that there is less to go wrong, and what there is can be fixed more easily.

It’s used when the weather is too bad to line-dry, and to fluff up towels; we can’t see any reason to replace it before we have to.

Member
Lynda Wilson says:
7 June 2012

I got married in January 1970 in Germany and my husband’s RAF squadron bought us a Kenwood Chef and all the attachments as a wedding present. It is still going strong to this day and has never needed any repairs or replacement parts. It may be slightly noisier now but everything still works exactly as it did when it was new. 42 years and still going strong!

Member
Hugh says:
10 June 2012

Paid £196 in 1980 for a portable TV Hitachi CWP300 13″. Never gone wrong even though it once fell to the floor. Have connected it to a freeview box (one that plays through the TV aerial socket and the set-up is still in occasional use for secondary viewing.

Member
Baz says:
7 April 2014

Hi Hugh,
I have exactly the same model TV but cannot tune the darn thing to get it to work with an old 80s computer… does it need a remote to achieve this as I’ve been given it without one and there seems no way of tuning it manually/any buttons.
Cheers in advance for any advice!
ANDY

Member
David Goodman says:
12 June 2012

In 1958/59 I bought a Morphy Richards electric fan heater, with a propeller type of fan which is still working. I did replace the ball bearings on the fan about ten years ago and clean the interior occasionally. It is larger and quieter than most of the later types.

(I will put a photograph on another email )

Member
Paul says:
15 June 2012

We bought a Zanussi Washing Machine(Z939) and separate Tumble Dryer(Z930) in 1981.
Both are still working well. We replaced the control unit on the washing machine last year.

Member
David Mullahey says:
16 June 2012

We have a Sony Black Trinitron Colour TV (portable) bought in 1991 and going strong, with sharp picture and crystal clear sound (now attached to a Freeview Box). It has outlasted at two or three other subsequently purchased TV sets.

Member
Gwyn says:
18 June 2012

When we purchased out house almost 30 years ago the Central Heating boiler looked old. Subsequent investigation dates it as some time before pre North Sea gas conversion of 1966?. Best guess is it’s 50+ years old, and in the last 28 years has only failed once – needing a new solenoid.

We also have 2 Bosch washing machines. To differentiate, the “new” one is about 14 years old, and the “old” one is clocking in at 33 years and still does all the outdoor muddy clothes.

Member
Angus Galbraith says:
25 June 2012

We have an Electrolux fridge/freezer that my parents bought us for a wedding present in 1974. It’s has a few thermostats & a couple of compressors over the years but that’s all.

Member
Roger Campling says:
2 July 2012

We bought a Parnell Tumble Dryer in 1961. It had plenty of use during the 1960s when the children were young and has been used intermittently ever since. It is still going strong and the only fault in all those years was when the timer ceased working; this was replaced under guarantee!

Member
Frances Pearsall says:
19 July 2012

I have my grandmother’s Singer Sewing Machine which I am still using. A hand version bought by her in the mid 30’s (the instruction booklet is for machine No 99) she made many clothes for me as a child as well as curtains, cushions etc. It passed to my mother and then onto me, and for the last 40 years I have been using it not only for clothes and household furnishing, but also garden cushions of plastic and canvas and earlier this month for making shade netting curtains for the greenhouse. Never been modified and still going strong!

Member
Julian says:
19 July 2012

Okay, firstly I will admit my contributions are nowhere near the region of these antiquities however I am very pleased to say that my first major purchases after graduating and getting a job are still going strong after 20years. Mission bookshelf speakers, and Nakamichi Receiver 2 (amplifier). The cassette deck and cd player still work but are consigned to storage in these days of downloadable/rippable digital media. I have misplaced the remote control between here and France where I lived with these products for 12 years (moved 3 times) but luckily one of those fancy remote controls manages it all very well. I think this is very typical for higher end audio equipment in general, with eBay and other auction sites showing a lot of older kit still in perfect working order. I doubt one of these iPhone dedicated devices will survive anywhere near as long or sound as good.

Member

The build quality of hi-fi separates tends to be much better than most home electronic devices, which is why you see plenty of secondhand equipment for sale. All my separates (no two components by the same manufacturer) date from the 80s and are still working.

You have interesting ‘kitchen appliances’. 🙂

Member
Julian says:
22 July 2012

oops didnt notice it was for kitchen appliances! 🙂 Ignore my comments. Or cook on valve amps.

Member
Mollie Walton says:
26 July 2012

When my parents married in 1932, my mother bought an electric clock. It is a Smith sectric, with a square face and dark oak surround, and it has worked continuously ever since without a break or ever giving trouble.
The wiring has been replaced!
This must surely be the record.

Member
Phil Brooke says:
19 August 2012

My parents bought a Prestcold fridge in 1956. They are still using it 56 years later.

I see this is not quite the oldest fridge still in use, but fridges seem to be amongst the longest lasting apart from clocks (at least they were then).

Member
Jack Craic says:
5 September 2012

I bought an old hair drier the other day at a car boot sale. It had a brown Bakelite shell and research showed that it could have been made in 1929! And yet it was still in working order! I have just bought a 1950’s Morphy Richards space heater and amazingly that still works too!

Member
David says:
13 December 2012

In 1972 we bought a Bekay 13cu ft chest freezer, a Which ‘Best buy’, and it is still going. Probably, not as efficient as a new model, but reliable. It is used for fruit and vegtables from the garden and for ‘special offers’ from supermarkets, mainly meat. This helps to pay the running costs.

Member
J Valentine says:
5 March 2013

Ok today March 4 2013 at 9:01 pm our closest family member The Genious Panasonic microwave born 10/23/74 has passed away this evening at 9:01 p.m lol

Member
Johnny Clarke says:
19 July 2013

Our apartment is a ‘shrine’ to the 1970s, a period of great happiness in my life, They made things to last back then, as is proof in our home. The stting/dining room is furnished in teak, G-plan astro coffee table, iconic design with it’s set in circular glass top, teak sidboard and radiogram, swivel ‘egg’ type chair on teak cross section legs, teak ercol round dining table a nd teak dining chairs with woven rush seats, ladderack shelf unit complete with glass fronted cabinet, bureau and drawers, The only modern day items are the Ikea sofa and rug…and tv etc. It’s a really comfortable room which gets much admiration from visitors.

In the kitchen we have the good old Russel Hobbs electric kettle, from 1969, and still going strong and looking fantastic, no-one will have a modern kettle still working and looking good in 43 years time, for sure. The bedroom has a wall of teak Tapley teak units hanging from their invisable wall fixings, Original Novamura vinyl wallpaper in a physcadelic print is used as a ‘head-board from floor to ceiling behind the bed.

But my most favorite thing…the Electrolux ZA65 vacuum cleaner, the same as the one my Mum had when we were kids. It’s a dream, so much better than any modern cleaner, all metal, no flimsy, rubbishy plastic bits to bend and break. It’s light, not like you would imagine an ‘old’ vacuum to be, very quiet, unlike modern ones, and great suction !

I say, why pay daft prices for modern stuff that only lasts 5 minutes, when you can buy vintage and get quality that lasts and lasts….Johnny

Member
Kevin says:
22 June 2014

In 1975 I bought a very old green and cream Belling cooker with two rings, 1 flat plate , grill and separate oven can anyone point me in the right direction to identify it more precisely?

Member

You could try writing or speaking to Belling. They have a useful website [look for “Belling”] with contact details. The company now comes under Glen Dimplex Home Appliances Ltd.

Member
Bernardo Neira says:
3 July 2014

Talking about old home appliances, I still use my granma´s fridge, a G-E made in 1937. Works great and, curiously, has become a very fashionable item.

Member
George Ritchie says:
18 November 2014

A Dimplex Towel Rail bought 1966 is still working great.

Member
jamie says:
5 September 2015

we own a indesit dishwasher 2111aog early 80s, still going strong