Exhibition Taster: Morphy Richards Hairdryer Ensemble

When the Electric Generations exhibition opens, we’ll have a number of electrical items on display that we’ve collected or borrowed from various places.  This 1960s Morphy Richards ensemble hairdryer is a taster of the type of objects that visitors will be able to see.  Tracked down on eBay, it’s still in full working order — although we haven’t been brave enough to actually try it ourselves and it’s probably best that you don’t test it out at the exhibition, either! Continue reading “Exhibition Taster: Morphy Richards Hairdryer Ensemble”

Exhibition Taster: Digital Copy of Electrical Housekeeping

We will have hard and digital copies of the periodical Electrical Housekeeping on display at our exhibition, but in the meantime why not browse our digital copy below from summer 1939?! Check back every second Monday for a new taster in the lead up to the opening of the Electric Generations exhibition.

Burnley Express, 7 April 1934
Burnley Express, 7 April 1934

Electrical Housekeeping (mentioned in the advertisement to the left) was a promotional periodical launched by the British Electrical Development Association (EDA) in 1933 as ‘the first home electrical magazine’. The EDA was founded in 1919 to promote the consumption of electricity and electrical appliances, and ‘produce advertising material of common value to bodies within the industry’. It was funded at first by appliance manufacturers and later by the Central Electricity Board. Production of the magazine was suspended during the Second World War, and then started up again as a free publication in 1950 under the editorship of G.A. Thompson. It was now distributed via the showrooms of the Regional Electricity Boards, which were created as part of the nationalisation of the electricity supply industry in 1948.[1]

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The Rays: A Fairy Story

By Ceri Houlbrook, University of Hertfordshire

‘ELECTRICITY is a friend and helper in the home, but sometimes it seems terribly mysterious, because it is so silent and invisible.

This little reader is meant to lead children to think of Electricity with interest and confidence as a friend who is always ready to help, and who need not be feared, if treated with respect.

At the same time, the fairy tale affords a glimpse into some of the wonderful changes through which electrical energy passes before it enters the Home’ (1930: 2)

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ESB Advertising: The Early Years

By Deirdre McParland, ESB Archives

From the very beginning of the Shannon Scheme, quality advertising was used to inform, encourage and entertain the public on the benefits of electricity. Electricity was a new technology and while available in towns and cities from local suppliers since the turn of the century, its use was limited. Through the medium of advertising, ESB sought to convince the population of Ireland that electricity was not only perfectly safe but also easy to use and would transform the lives of Irish people for ever.

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Love, Obey and Carry Water: Electricity in the Irish Countryside

In our last blog post, Ciara Meehan looked at how Dublin housewives converted to electricity in the 1960s. In this latest post, Lorna Sixsmith explores the experience of the rural dweller.

Guest Post from author Lorna Sixsmith.

Electrical items, like this Pifco Curling Tongs, will be on display at the Electric Generations exhibition.

While townspeople were buying electric cookers, refrigerators and dishwashers for their kitchens, using electric irons for their clothes and electric tongs to curl their hair in the 1950s and 1960s, were country people able to avail of the same modern conveniences?

The contrast between town and country facilities was highlighted in many publications:

Continue reading “Love, Obey and Carry Water: Electricity in the Irish Countryside”

Converting to Electricity: Irish Housewives in the 1960s

By Ciara Meehan, University of Hertfordshire

Electric rings, electric kettles and electric coffee pots were in much demand in April 1961 as the Evening Herald reported that Dublin housewives were preparing for a ‘kitchen emergency’. Although domestic consumption of electricity had increased steadily from the 1950s, many homes still relied on gas appliances. So when strike notice was served on the Dublin Gas Company, Dublin housewives began to prepare themselves for temporary disruption to the pattern of their daily life.

Front page of the Evening Herald, Saturday, 15 April 1961

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Electricity and the Extinction of Fairies?

By Ceri Houlbrook, University of Hertfordshire

There can be little doubt that the advent of electricity brought many benefits. With the introduction of the lightbulb, the telegraph, the electric cooker, people’s domestic lives became easier, more sanitary, and arguably less isolated. Electricity sparked an age of unprecedented technological and social advancements, and humanity thrives.

But electricity hasn’t brought benefits for everyone. We know from evolutionary biology that changes in the environment can cause one species to flourish whilst endangering another, and this blog post focuses on one specific species that hasn’t fared so well since the advent of electricity: fairies. Continue reading “Electricity and the Extinction of Fairies?”

Electrical Magic and the Science of the Supernatural

By Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire

Over the last two millennia, the idea of a world governed by invisible forces has shaped the way people in western cultures have understood the relationship between us, the natural world, and the heavens. It has also profoundly shaped our interactions with each other as humans. Up until the eighteenth century, the concept of Neoplatonism, which had its origins in antiquity, was central to scientific and religious understanding. It explained how all matter was interconnected through myriad spirits. So witches, for example, were able to cause harm at a distance using spells, looks, and muttered curses, through this invisible spiritual soup.

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Voices from the Past: Remembering the Arrival of Electricity

Guest Post from Jane O’Keeffe, Irish Life and Lore

Over the years, many fascinating stories have been recorded by the Irish Life and Lore collection in relation to the arrival of electricity in rural Ireland. The Rural Electrification Scheme began in 1946 and by the mid 1960s over 80% of rural households were connected.

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