A century ago, the only energy source readily available in Burnie with which to cook and keep warm was wood, and there was an abundance of it. By this time most kitchens had well designed and efficient cast-iron wood-fuelled cooking ranges like the one in this room. Some households still had the earlier ‘colonial’ or Peter’s oven. This rugged, almost indestructible, little unit consisted of a simple oven box with a door that hung from an iron pole across the hearth and was suspended in the open flames.
An improvement in the last half of the 19th century was the hot water ‘fountain’, which was a large kettle that had a tap instead of a spout and sat on the hob or stove. This provided several gallons of boiling water, enough for a large wash-up or the weekly bath. The fountain was the hot water service of the 19th century.
Until wood stoves came into use in the 1880s and 1890s, the kitchen was usually a separate building away from the house because of the high risk of logs rolling out of the fire and burning the building down. When stoves came into use the risk of fire was diminished and the kitchen became part of the house.
At this time, the kitchen was a dark and smokey room at the back of the house but it was a place where the family could sit, talk and keep warm on cold winter’s nights. Today the kitchen is usually at the bright side of the house and full of modern, labour-saving devices. The wood and iron implements have been superseded to a large extent by electrical appliances, aluminium and plastic.