The mother of Anthony Sargeant had one of these when the family lived in Lower Sydenham just on the edge of the Bellingham Council Estate in South London. In the 1950s it was not used for ‘creative’ work or ‘craft’ activities but to sew the essential everyday things for clothing and furnishing a home – from bed linen to frocks. The machine itself was hinged at the back and when this was pushed back the front wooden panel which was also hinged at the very front edge and on which it rested could then be raised and the whole of the sewing machine would then fold down into the compartment underneath. The metamorphosis was completed by the hinged wooden flap on the left hand side being folded back across the top concealing the compartment. The structure was based on a cast iron frame and the machine was treadle operated with the large wheel on the right of the treadle driving a thin leather belt up to the machine itself.
There was a small shallow drawer across the front used for pins and needles and such like then two deeper longer drawers on each side. In one knitting needles were stored, all shapes and sizes and colours. In another buttons, it was just post-war remember, and many things were in short supply so any buttons on worn-out clothing were saved for possible re-use in the future. The button drawer provided great delight for Tony as a small child, who arranged the buttons on the floor making patterns with different colours and shapes – a happy memory. When at some time in the 1950s the leather belt broke and was replaced with a new one the broken belt was left lying around and put to use as an implement for punishing Tony when he was deemed to be naughty – not such a happy memory.