The good folk of Nidderdale have been careful housekeepers! We can tell this from the old carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners that have been donated to the Nidderdale Museum. They provide a wonderful record of how well the homes of the dale were looked after, and we now have a surprisingly arresting exhibition at the Museum to tell you all about it.
Only since the early 19th century have machines replaced the physical hard work especially associated with cleaning carpets. Our earliest exhibit, of over a dozen, is the Ewbank carpet sweeper, the first of which went on sale in 1889. It became the most popular product of its type in Britain, where carpet sweeping became know as ‘ewbanking’. It was named after the area of Blackburn where the factory was located.
We have a model of the ‘Baby Daisy’, a manual vacuum cleaner designed in France around 1890 but built in Britain. It required two people to operate it. The first person had to stand on the base of the bellows, moving it back and forth with the aid of a broomstick in the holder on the front. A vacuum was created through double connected bellows. The second person could use an attached hose, moving around to clean the house. The dust was collected in a cotton bag within the machine.
Electric vacuum cleaners replaced the manual ones in the early 20th century, and there are a number of famous Nordic versions and Hoovers, notably Model 425: “IT BEATS as it sweeps as it cleans”, dating from the early 1930s, and the Hoover Junior, Model 119, the first affordable cleaner in the UK (1949).
Some, however, might feel the star of the show is the “Charles”! Do come and see them all.