Primus stove, circa 1930s
This month’s object has been chosen by Jim Davies, former Betteshanger miner, current trustee and volunteer for the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation and Kent Mining Museum.
The everyday lives of the miners changed drastically over the course of the 20th century. In the early years, homes were still dependent on large fire ranges – before the development of the pit baths, miners would have to travel home dirty from the mines, and wait to wash themselves in tin tubs in front of the range.
Starting the fire range wasn’t a quick task. That is why smaller, more portable stoves such as the Primus stove became popular. They used kerosene or methylated spirits. Especially as the Second World War progressed, the stoves became a staple in many homes for quick food preparation. In later years the Primus stove has developed to become a popular camping tool.
Jim remembers growing up with a Primus stove just like this in his home; they used it often throughout his childhood. One day as a child, Jim reached for the stove (which had a hot pan on top) and knocked the boiling grease onto himself.
Do you or a family member have items or memorabilia such as this from the early 20th century?
Do you think they are historically significant? Jim brought this object in to the museum as he found it an important part in the telling of a mining household’s story.
What items would you consider important to tell your story?