This is a super little book and the development of the vacuum cleaner makes for interesting reading. Apparently, so the author tells us, the suction vacuum cleaner nearly didn't happen at all because their inventor, Hubert Cecil Booth, nearly choked to death on a mouthful of dust whilst testing his theory that to get the dust out of a carpet you needed to suck the dust up from the fibres and not blow it out from the fibres. He had seen a machine demonstrated that was intended to clean railway carriages by blowing air and raising the dust in the hopes it would land in the attached box. Booth thought that the dust was better sucked out than blown out and he patented his first vacuum cleaner in 1901and launched the British Vacuum Cleaner Company to produce what he called 'The Puffing Billy' which was a red horse drawn machine much like an early fire engine. It needed several uniformed attendants to work it and it was hired out to owners of fashionable houses who loved to be seen by their friends and neighbours with the red machine outside their homes. A sign both of cleanliness and wealth. The first vacuum cleaner I remember as a little girl in the 1950s was a grey cylinder one with Goblin written on the side. I think the fact that it had something to do with a goblin used to intrigue me! Incidentally, Goblin vacuum cleaners were also produced by Hubert Cecil Booth's British Vacuum Cleaner Company from the 1930s onwards.
That isn't the end of the story! The next morning I plugged my hairdryer into the same socket I'd used for the vacuum cleaner - nothing! Oh no,I thought, not the hairdryer as well and then the penny dropped! After all that it wasn't any of the appliances that were at fault it was the socket on the wall!