Britain’s oldest toaster which is more than 70 years old is still used every day by its owners, who urge others to make do and mend.
Jimmy James, from Stanwick in Wellingborough, has a Morphy Richards pop-up toaster which was given to his parents as a wedding present on December 29, 1949.
It is thought to be the oldest working toaster in Britain, manufactured just a few weeks before the wedding day.
The last reported oldest toaster was a Morphy Richards made in 1953 and gifted to a couple in Devon for their wedding the same year.
Mr James, 69, inherited the toaster from his parents in 1993. The father of three, who works as a charity fundraising consultant, said he is committed to his parents’ wartime generation mindset: fix broken items if you can, rather than throw them away.
He told The Telegraph: “The toaster is now older than I am! It has been used virtually every day of its life. My parents used it, and my wife and I have used it ever since.
“To me, it’s second nature to make do and mend. My parents were wartime generation and everything was repaired and recycled – nothing was ever thrown away that I can recall.
“You’re doing a tiny little bit to preserve the environment and you’re manufacturing jobs in the repair industry as opposed to manufacturing jobs in China.
“I work on the basis that there’s no point in throwing things away if they’re working perfectly well. Some people probably think I hide it away for 364 days of the year, but we use it all the time. When I’m 6ft under my children will use it too.”
Make do and mend
Mr James said he only has to carry out minor repairs on the toaster every six or seven years. Its sturdy structure means the only small fault is the toaster holder jamming.
It used to cost him just £5 to get it unjammed at Trident Industries in Burgess Hill, Sussex. He now pays around £20 at J H May (Electrical) Ltd in Rushden, Northamptonshire – still much less than the price of a brand new toaster.
“It was made after the war when there was a great shortage of metal and the metal used in manufacturing was substandard,” he said.
“The guides you put the toast in would distort once every six or seven years to such an extent that it would jam. That would cost me a fiver at a time when you’d pay £35 or £40 for a new toaster.
“I pay £20 now to get it fixed but it’s well worth it. £20 over seven years is much less than £20 worth of Chinese toasters that would blow up every two years!”
Other fascinating appliances
Mr James has accumulated other fascinating old appliances over the years.
His youngest daughter, who has learning and physical disabilities, has her bedroom warmed up by a 1958 Ekco convector heater.
Made in Southend, its design was so advanced for its time that it could operate off a 5 amp plug.
Mr James has only needed to have minor repairs made, such as a new bulb which lights up to show when the heater is in operation.
He also has his mother’s 1959 Hoover floor polisher, complete with all the attachments.
“I remember my mother buying it to cut down on the time scrubbing the big stone-flagged floor in the kitchen my parents had at the time,” he said.