Nanny's Singer

reflections Sep 05, 2016

My uncle was a very keen photographer and his son (my cousin Phil) has kept and treasured all his family photos and slides. This week Phil posted this slide from the 1950's on his Facebook page.


As Phil says, the colours are so realistic in these slides that you could almost be in the room with them. I was so absorbed in looking at the images of, from the left, my Great Auntie Nance, Grandad and Nanny that I almost missed seeing the all- important Singer treadle behind Nanny. I expect she used it to make her 'pinny' - the only time I ever remember her without one on was at weddings.

I remember exactly where this photo would have been taken. The house was a tiny two-up two-down in Twickenham, and this was the back room. The door you can see led to the add-on kitchen which always smelled of coal tar soap and where you would find Nanny making yorkshire pudding batter in an enamel dish. Grandad would usually be found out in the garden, which was very long and where he grew his vegetables and fruit.  We helped him pick cherries and raspberries, and then they would give us some money and send us to the corner shop for ice cream blocks and wafers.

Behind Grandad's head is a photo of Nanny's brother Fred, who died at the battle of Loos. He was her elder brother and she worshipped him. She never got over the loss. Unlike now when we sew because we love to, Nanny would have been using her Singer for very utilitarian purposes; to mend, make clothes, and so on, but I like to think that as she treadled away, it took her mind off the pain of losing Fred.

The Singer now lives with my sister. The love of sewing has come through the generations, and I know it will be treasured for a long time to come.


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