Heating and Lighting in Wedderburn Road Houses
Until the late 1940s none of the houses along Wedderburn Road had electricity. Gas was used for cooking and lighting, and some houses still have the original gas pipe work leading to gas mantles fixed to walls and ceilings. It is not known exactly when electricity arrived in the road although Rosa recalls watching the coronation on a television at Reginald Malsom’s house in 1953.
Water: Wells were a common feature
Mains water was also late arriving to this part of Malvern. Every house had a well and water was drawn up several times a day which had to meet all the cooking, washing and drinking needs. Some of these wells were still used in preference to mains water in the 1960s and many still exist in some properties although almost all will now be filled in. Una discovered the location of a well in her garden at No 50 when she returned with her husband, Ivan, one day to discover that their row of sprouts had disappeared…down the old well casement! As a young boy, Roy remembers helping to dig out a new well on land belonging to No 41, to be used for the pigs that were reared on the site. Once the hole had become too deep for a man to excavate any further, Roy was lowered in so he could dig out the thick and heavy clay. This was put into the bucket that had taken him down. The bucket was hauled up and emptied ready for Roy to refill. Once the well was finished it was lined with 50 gallon oil drums and Roy believes four of these drums were stacked on top of each other, making it about 12 feet deep. Heavy stone or earthenware troughs stood next to the well or pump and a few still remain as evidence for this primitive water supply.
Una recalls that when she moved to the road in 1964 her neighbour Mrs Atyeo, a widow living in Eastfield Cottage, only had running water in her kitchen (which was like a scullery), and the house was still without a bathroom or indoors toilet. Of course if there was no running water, then there were no flushing toilets although many of the houses on the north side of the road appear to have them, albeit still outside. Houses had brick built toilets in the garden and most family members would experience a great reluctance at having to brave the elements to sit in a dark, cold, damp and smelly shed on a wooden plank, often next to the pig sty. Some residents remember using cut squares of newspaper threaded onto string or wire for toilet paper. For those not connected to a sewer, sewage would be removed by the householder, often smoking a pipe to combat the smell, every few weeks, and often tipped on the garden.
Some of the smaller cottages like Mrs Atyeo’s mentioned earlier, had red tiles laid directly on top of an earthen surface, creating very uneven floors. The wash house was usually a brick outhouse and the mangle for squeezing out excess water was kept and used in the back yard.