Top Picture: Formica Topped Table
Second Picture: Duradio Paint
Several weeks ago someone commented on the blog that he would like to hear about Formica, so here goes. How well I remember my father making, carefully cutting and eventually wrestling with a very large sheet of Formica when he covered the kitchen table. The other vital ingredient was a large tin of Evo Stik. I seem to remember that it was highly inflammable and whilst my father was spreading the glue on the table with the serrated red plastic comb provided I can still hear my mother saying “Norman, do you think ou should be smoking whilst you are spreading that glue?” It made no difference, he finished his cigarette whilst till applying the sticky mess. Not only tables but work surfaces, the top of the dresser and the shelves in the larder all eventually ended up covered in Formica. Well all these memories started me thinking and looking and this is what I have managed to turn up about Formica.
Formica, was technically known as a wipe clean plastic laminate of paper or fabric with a melamine resin. It was invented a hundred years ago in 1912 by Daniel O’Conor and Herbert A Faber and today is produced under licence by the Formica Corporation in Newcastle upon Tyne.
At the time of the invention Daniel O’Conor and Herbert Faber were working for the Westinghouse of America and once they had perfected the process they then filed for a patent on it.
They originally conceived it as a substitute for mica which was used as electrical insulation. After the invention of Formica the two inventors left Westinghouse immediately afterwards to start their own business, enlisting lawyer and banker John G. Tomlin as an investor. Tomlin put up $7,500 and became a silent partner in the business. The company began operations on 2nd May 1913, and was immediately successful: by September, Formica Products Company had eighteen employees trying to keep up with the demand for electrical parts for Bell Electric Motor, Ideal Electric and Northwest Electric.
In 1927, Formica Insulation Company obtained a patent on an opaque barrier sheet that allowed the use of rotogravure printing to make wood-grained or marble-surfaced laminate, the first of many innovations that were to associate the name "Formica" with decorative interior products.
In 1938 melamine thermosetting resin was developed by American Cyanamid Company. It resisted heat, abrasion and moisture soon the Formica Corporation was buying the entire output of melamine from American Cyanamid.
During the Second World War Formica manufactured plastic impregnated wooden propellers and bomb parts. The company was headquartered in Cincinnati Ohio for many years.
With the end of WWII, the company entered the European market through a license agreement and production has never stopped. Since 2007, it has been a subsidiary of the Fletcher Building group and today Formica laminate can be found in everyday use in healthcare, retail, education, residential, corporate, industrial, transportation and sports and leisure environments. Offering an unrivalled collection of colours, patterns, wood-grains and surface finishes, Formica provides the perfect choice for architects and interior designers to create fashionable yet functional environments. There were other company’s who made similar products to Formica but none ever bettered it.
I also remember that strange sticky backed product that came on a roll, it was far less hard wearing than Formica and was called Fablon. How ever hard I try I cannot seem to find out the history of this product but I do remember my father using it somewhere in the house and spending hours rolling and pushing out the air bubbles in it!!! That was after trying to get it to lay straight after taking off the backing.
These were the days of home decorating paints we never hear of these days. Remember Household Paint sold by Woolworths, cheap, thin and covered very little. Other names that come to mind are Brolac, Duradio, Walpamur, Valspar and probably the only survivor to this day is Dulux. And whilst talking about DIY who remembers Rawlplug Paste? It was a fibrous dry powder which when wetted made up into a paste to fill holes and fix screws with. Also this product came with a special punch which was used, in conjunction with a hammer to make the required holes in the wall.
Ah well it is amazing how much we learnt by just looking over our dad’s shoulder!
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I lived in close proximity of the Odeon Southsea (criminal by the way to demolish it!) Such Architecture inside in the Auditorium and show piece in its day - the 1930s). On Saturdays as a small boy I recall having to pay 6d or if in the holidays on a Thursday it was 9p for a seat. If you were posh you could go upstairs for a bit more! The serials came on first - remember the baddie Gene Roth?! They were from about 1951 - Captain Video, Buck Rogers and the Ghost of Zorro? Then there was a short interval with the cinema speakers playing 'Lollipop Time' (this changed later on to 'Lollipop, Lollipop!' to enable the usherette to appear at the front of the auditorium and to sell iced lollies - I seemed to remember orange flavour lollies - mm delicious! If you were crafty you didn’t go when the queue was outside and you waited to the beginning of the serial after the yo-yo contestants sponsored by the Daily Mirror had had a go on the stage. Then the lights faded for the main feature - usually an old black and white movie - probably a western. Everyone used to whistle at any kissing, boo at the baddies or cheer at the goodies especially during a chase close to the end of the film! The manager of the Odeon was a distinguished My Leybourne who always stood erect close to the box office. It wasn’t half bright outside when you came out of the cinema at the end. We all re-enacted the film in the back alley when we returned home much to the annoyance of our parents! The adult prices in the mid fifties as I recall were 1s/3p, 1/9, 2/6 or 3/6 upstairs. If we missed a film after it had been shown, one could always catch 6 weeks later at the Essoldo near the Kings Theatre, Albert Road.
News and Views:
Horse Sand Fort and No Man’s Land Fort in The Solent have been sold to the same company, Clarenco, which bought Spitbank Fort in 2009 and has turned it into a hotel and conference centre in a £3m revamp. No Man’s Land Fort is over 35,000sq ft – three times the size of Spitbank Fort – and was converted into a luxury hotel in the 1990s. Horse Sand Fort was built between 1865 and 1880 to defend Portsmouth from the French and is almost an exact replica of No Man’s Land Fort. It has several armour-plated floors with 15ft thick walls all round. Clarenco will transform Horse Sand Fort into a museum showcasing the artefacts and history of the three forts.
Guests will reach the forts by Clarenco’s own flotilla of boats from the Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport.
On this day 29th March 1960-1965
31/03/1960the number one single was Running Bear - Johnny Preston and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
31/03/1961the number one single was Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was The Dickie Henderson Show (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
31/03/1962the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
31/03/1963the number one single was Foot Tapper - The Shadows and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
31/03/1964the number one single was Little Children - Billy J Kramer and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
31/03/1965the number one single was The Last Time - Rolling Stones and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.