There have been several postings about the layout of the houses at Harrogate. Descriptions of the hall & stairs, and a diagram of a dormitory ........ These pages are supposed to be for Harrogate pictures, but of course we all carry these in our heads, and these are the pictures that I carry in my head of the kitchen at number seven.
It was a real old fashioned country kitchen. Square, with a big pine table in the middle where sister Flora would spend many hours, busily at work. Breakfast for twelve hungry children would begin with a bowl of cornflakes or wheatabix, always followed by a cooked breakfast which consisted of bacon with something like tomatoes. In winter there would be lovely porridge, which was prepared the night before and left to stand on top of the cooker to be heated up in the morning. And I'll never forget the size of those enormous teapots which contained the tea ready mixed with milk & sugar. Of course everyone would help to clear the table after we'd eaten, and there was a rota for the washing up. Before we came home from school in the evening, sister Flora would spread innumerable slices of white bread to have with meat paste or marmite, and always make sure there was some sort of cake for tea. Try as I might, I've never been able to replicate the delicious fruit loaf she made with the nice brown crust ........ We all had school dinners during the week, but on Sundays there would be a PROPER Sunday lunch with a joint of meat and vegetables that would be fit enough to grace any family table. It is only with hindsight that I realise now, how very hard the sisters worked, just to keep us well fed.
The floor in the kitchen was laid with beautiful quarry tiles which would be swept and mopped every morning before being covered with newspapers to absorb the excess moisture. We used to have an elderly Polish lady to help with the morning cleaning at number seven, who's english vocabulary was very limited, but she had no difficulty in letting us children know that she didn't approve of us walking on her freshly washed tiles ! I don't know if any of the other houses had a daily help for a few hours each morning, or if perhaps this was restricted to number seven in order to help sister Flora who had such severe arthritis and suffered with a painful hip.
On one wall of the kitchen was a big inglenook which contained the oven and the central heating boiler. The big clothes rack was suspended from the ceiling just in front of the inglenook, where it could take advantage of the heat. Taking care of the boiler was the job of whoever happened to be the oldest boy in the family. One of the first noises we'd hear when we got out of bed each morning, was the loud rattling of the ash-pan as he removed the clinker. He would then fill the hod with coke which was stored in a shed outside, just underneath the verandah. And another sound I shall never forget, was the frequent hollow clanking in the central heating radiators, when they had an 'airlock' which reverberated through the house as though somebody was running a stick across them .... On this wall between the kitchen & dining room was a very deep cupboard which had a door in both sides and was used as a serving hatch. It was plenty big enough to get into, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to use it as a hiding place when we had a game of hide-&-seek.
On the wall opposite the inglenook were three doors leading to three pantries each with a large stone slab shelf. The One on the far left had a window with a zinc mesh cover to keep out the flies. It was in here that any 'leftover' food was kept, such as the remains of the joint which was invariably turned into mince. This was done by one of those old fashioned hand operated machines which screwed to the top of the table. Sister turned the handle, and the meat would come out at the other end in rather unappetising grey lumps. However, nobody complained when it was heated up with a tasty gravy and served with mash. Of course we didn't have the luxury of a fridge in those days, but things seemed to keep pretty well. There was always a big lump of cheese on the shelf, and numerous loaves of sliced white, wrapped in greaseproof paper. Several big enamel bins containing dried goods such as rice & flour stood on the floor, along with the milk crate holding bottles which always had a nice layer of yellow cream on top. ...... The middle pantry was full of baking equipment and an assortment of interesting tins which very often held cakes and biscuits, which for some reason were always kept just out of reach on the top shelf ..... The last pantry was the least interesting of all because it only held the large pots & pans that were used for cooking. The only food that was ever to be found in here, was a big pan of cold boiled meat, with a layer of yellow fat floating on the surface. I don't know what sort of meat it was, but it was kept for the dog. Our Sally.
Lastly, high up on the back kitchen wall above the sideboard, was a gadget that had originally been installed to summon whoever happened to be working in the kitchen, to other parts of the house. It consisted of a series of numbers & bells that would presumably be activated by whoever happened to press the corresponding bell in any of the other rooms. However, to my knowledge, this gadget was never put into use, so it just hung on the wall as a decorative relic.
Despite being rather old fashioned by todays standards, I'd be very happy to have this kitchen in my house today.