As you wield your steam iron (or better still ignore the need for ironing altogether) spare a thought for generations of housewives and servants, for whom laundry was a heavy and time-consuming business. Monday was traditionally washday, followed more often than not by a full day of ironing on Tuesday.
This gas laundry iron, donated by Mrs. C.W. Fenton, cost 25/- in 1928. Prior to the 1870s, heavy flatirons or sadirons were heated on top of cast iron stoves. The new gas irons, patented in the US in the 1870s, were much lighter and reduced the need to heat up the stove. A rubber gas line carried fuel to the iron, which contained a burner to provide the heat. When the burner was lit with a match, the iron heated up. Wooden handles replaced metal ones, reducing the likelihood of burns, although the irons did get very hot and gas sometimes leaked.
The establishment of the Lyttelton Gas Company in the mid 1870s, made possible the use of gas in Lyttelton homes, coinciding with the arrival of gas irons on the market. The Christchurch Gas Company regularly extolled the virtues of the gas iron in local newspapers.
Use a Gas Iron once and you will forever discard the old-fashioned, smutty way of Ironing. Abandon the old, tiresome method of changing irons – one Gas Iron does all the work in the quickest and best way imaginable.
(Press 26 August 1916)