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Flat iron

Flat irons like this were made of solid, cast iron. They were heated by placing them in front of an open fire on a trivet (a metal stand), hanging them over the fire or by placing them directly on the top of a closed kitchen range (cooker). They usually came in pairs so that one could be heating up while the other was being used. Some had wooden handles which didn’t get as hot as the iron ones. Irons like these would have been used in wealthy households like Preston Hall, and poorer households like those of the Loftus miners, alike – the difference being that the ironing was done alongside all the other domestic chores by wives and mothers – and sometimes older daughters – in the poorer households, rather than by servants.

Flat iron

Sometimes known as ‘sad’ (meaning solid) or smoothing irons, the flat iron was the simplest type of Victorian iron. A later invention was the box iron or slug iron. These irons had a deeper, hollow base. A metal or clay ‘slug’ could be heated up directly in the fire and then placed inside to warm the iron up. Some had space for hot coals to be put directly inside, and a funnel on top to let out any smoke – particular care was needed with these to make sure soot didn’t spill out onto clean, white linen!

Image courtesy of Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum

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