Thursday, August 16, 2012

Polish of Empire

I was bidding for this vintage 1930's booklet. It had flags and maps of the British Empire. In the end I came to my sober senses and stopped. What was I going to do after skimming through 30 pages. Why, it would be more clutter in the home? How much to do want to spend on ephemera.

The first factory in Pelaw opened in 1902, and expanded to make a massive range of goods. Not just polishes. Bedding, clothing, furniture, drysaltery, leather goods and saddles, packing, preserves, printing, quilts, scales, shirts and vinegar. That's a big workforce. Long gone now.

I well remember the black shoe polish. It came in a red tin with a picture of a seal on it, that's the animal that swims in the cold seas. Many years later I visited to Newcastle and heard the correct pronunciation of Pelaw not how we'd been saying it for years. Sounds like Pilau as in the rice dish.

Back to the Empire days. Polishing was a big activity. You had to have shiny shoes, a shiny floor, gleaming brass work, spotless cutlery. Everything got dirty from the coal fired domestic life and industrial chimneys. The metals tarnished and oxidized. Today we use different materials that don't require as much polish. The towns are smokeless zones and a lot of modern everyday footwear would be ruined by shoe polish.

Related posts in this series :
Foods of the Empire

1 comment:

Andrew Simpson said...

Nicely observed and reported, must be old still polish my boots

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