Home Paraffin heater

Paraffin heater

Object

Heater

Production date

1960s

Object number

2008.189

Physical Description

This is a paraffin heater used by Stanley and Adela Dormer in the 1960s. The Dormers emigrated from Jamaica to Battersea, first living in a room which they shared with two other people. The cold English winter was a stark change from the climate of the Caribbean, so the paraffin heater was essential for keeping warm. The landlady turned off the electricity and gas during the day so the Dormers' heater was used a lot. The heater was also used to cook food, as the communal house cooker was shared between 10 people. The heater could also be used to dry clothes and nappies, boil the kettle and heat babies milk. It was an essential item for Caribbean immigrants.

Inscription

Valor N2207

Material

Metals
Enamel

Dimension

height (Whole): 510mm
diameter (whole): 240mm

Exhibition Label

Used by Stanley and Adela Dormer in the 1960s. The Dormers emigrated from Jamaica to Battersea, first living in a room which they shared with two other people. They later moved to Hackney. The cold English winter was a stark change from the climate of the Caribbean, so the paraffin heater was essential for keeping warm. The landlady turned off the electricity and gas during the day so the Dormers' heater was used a lot. The heater was also used to cook food, dry clothes and nappies, boil the kettle and heat the baby’s milk.

This object was displayed for Independence Exhibition October 2012

This is a paraffin heater used by Stanley and Adela Dormer in the 1960s. The Dormers emigrated from Jamaica to Battersea, first living in a room which they shared with two other people. The cold English winter was a stark change from the climate of the Caribbean, so the paraffin heater was essential for keeping warm. The landlady turned off the electricity and gas during the day so the Dormers' heater was used a lot. The heater was also used to cook food, as the communal house cooker was shared between 10 people. The heater could also be used to dry clothes and nappies, boil the kettle and heat babies milk. It was an essential item for Caribbean immigrants.

"I was born and have always lived in Hackney so the first time I saw this paraffin heater I was immediately transported back to my childhood. I, like many African families, didn't grow up in this technology laden era where double glazing, radiators and central heating are standard in our houses.

Instead we had this single ubiquitous item which often served as heater, kettle boiler and occasional cooker. As a child I remember walking home carrying a plastic container filled with highly flammable, smelly liquid fuel. I also remember the flickering lights on the ceiling which danced in rhythm to the cold winds outside. The paraffin heater as a source of warmth also offered a centre which our family could sit round and, with the Djembe drum and my father, share stories of our history and culture."

Chose by Toyin Agbetu for Hackney@50 temporary exhibition, Feb - Aug 2015
Director of Ligali, Pan African Human Rights

On display?

No