It was a story of an enduring decades-old relationship built on trust and dependability… even if one of those concerned was always cold-hearted.
After The Mail on Sunday last week told of Edmund Garrod and the fridge that has been serving him faithfully for 56 years, readers have inundated us with stories of their own appliances that are going strong decades after they were manufactured.
Fridges older than Boris Johnson, hair shears made during the Second World War and a tumble-dryer dating from the Swinging Sixties – the stories highlight how appliances were once built to last.
In contrast, more modern models have a ‘built-in obsolescence’, which means they designed to be replaced after a few years, at huge collective cost to homeowners – and the environment.
Last week, this newspaper revealed how fridges, washing machines and TV will have to be guaranteed to last longer as part of a Government war of the practice.
Harold Macmillan was in Downing Street when Susan Loftus’s (pictured left with her 94-year-old mother, Brenda) father Frank brought his Prescold Packaway fridge in 1960
Plans include a legal requirement to stock spare parts for seven years after devices are sold, and labelling to set out the appliances’ expected lifespans.
Now we can disclose that Ministers have also discussed introducing a new Union Jack kitemark for white goods which they plan to herald as a ‘world-beating standard’.
A senior Government source said: ‘This could well see the return of the Union Jack on white goods being the standard to which the rest of the world aspires.’
In the spring, the Government will launch a policy framework for energy products, expected to go further than EU rules.
Typical washing machines now last about eight years before breaking, but some fridges installed in the 1950s and 1960s still work.
Mr Garrod was named as the owner of Britain’s oldest fridge for the 1954 General Electric Company DE30 he has in his High Wycombe home.
Experts welcomed the Government’s proposals, pointing out that even if it means appliances cost more, they will last longer and save money in the long run.
SNP MP Angela Crawley has attacked ‘planned obsolescence’ as a ‘cynical marketing strategy’ which damages consumers’ interests.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which has drawn up the plans, said it was considering the responses to two consultations and would publish the results in due course.
Your tales of trusty appliances dating back to the 40s… and still going strong
Harold Macmillan was in Downing Street when Susan Loftus’s father Frank brought his Prescold Packaway fridge in 1960.
Then the height of British design ingenuity, the appliance cost a princely sum of £57 – the equivalent of £1,300 today.
Steve Catterall, from Blackburn, still has his mother’s electric hair clippers, made by Forfex 80 years ago
Made in Oxford, the state-of-the-art fridge was so expensive that he needed to use hire-purchase to be able to afford it.
Ms Loftus, who lives in Bolton with her 94-year-old mother, Brenda, says: ‘It’s still going strong after almost 61 years of continuous service – with no repairs.’ And she is far from alone in having such an reliable workhorse.
Businesswoman and charity campaigner Rosa Monckton says her 91-year-old mother Marianna still uses the fridge she inherited from her own mother-in-law, who died in 1964.
It’s not known when it was bought, but Rosa says her grandmother had owned the fridge ‘for many years’.
The model was made by Electrolux, which began manufacturing fridges in 1955, and a sticker on the back says it ‘complies to British standards’.
Rosa says: ‘It has never once broken down and my mother uses it every day.’
Hair Shears 1941
Steve Catterall, from Blackburn, still has his mother’s electric hair clippers, made by Forfex 80 years ago.
The Bakelite shears, he says, ‘remain in good working order’. The lead was once replaced, but otherwise they have never required repairing.
Nigel Shapiro bought his Panasonic Genius from the Army and Navy store in Victoria, Central London, in 1985
‘Touch one button and the Panasonic Genius defrosts, cooks, turns,’ said the 1985 advertising campaign for the company’s microwave.
Nigel Shapiro bought his model from the Army and Navy store in Victoria, Central London, that year for £229 – more than £700 in today’s money.
But it’s proved a bargain.
Tony Heap and his wife were given this hair dryer as a wedding present in 1968 and it is still in working order
Is this Britain’s oldest working hair dryer?
Tony Heap and his wife were given it as a wedding present in 1968.
Fifty-two years later, the Boots appliance remains in full working order – although the couple have an unusual use for it… to defrost their freezer.
Elizabeth Broadbent brought her tumble dryer in 1969 – and even then it was second-hand
The average age of a tumble dryer in British homes is eight years, but Elizabeth Broadbent brought hers in 1969 – and even then it was second-hand.
Over the years the machine, sold by the now-defunct North Western Electricity Board, has taken quite a pounding from her family of five in Mossley, Greater Manchester, but Elizabeth says: ‘It still works well.’