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Read Deborah Sugg Ryan’s tour of kitchen history (Home, FT Weekend, 28 August), I remember my grandfather, John Henry Boothman, was one of the pioneers of equipped units in British kitchens in the 1930s. He was a builder and discovered that the built-in cupboards in the tent house of a new estate he had developed in Middlesex attracted as much attention as the houses themselves. In 1932, he founded Peerless Kitchen Cabinets and built an impressive new factory near the Art Deco Hoover Building in Perivale, West London.
As Professor Sugg Ryan points out, housing density increased at that time and homes (including kitchens) became smaller. The equipped units offer more storage space than free-standing cabinets while taking up less floor space, and orders come in. From cabinets and dressers, the range quickly expanded to a combined ironing board and broom cabinet, cooler unit, sinks and high wall cabinets. . There was even a ‘cozy breakfast nook’, ingeniously designed to fold out of a floor cupboard. Of course, the ‘double wall chair’ also unfolded.
When breakfast was ready, the whole thing could be stored away to evacuate the workspace. Later a series of bedroom units were added and it was equally successful.
Unchecked kitchens and bedrooms were especially popular with developers from the 1930s who built apartment blocks, where space, as with suburban housing, was high. The post-war reconstruction enabled it to flourish until intense competition, declining prices – and quality – took their toll in the 1960s. The business was sold in 1973 and ceased trading shortly thereafter.
St Lawrence, Jersey