Vacuum cleaner

Case PHSL : 315

We believed it to be A CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) Dustette hand-held vacuum cleaner with fishtail attachment, made of phenol formaldehyde by Streetly in the 1930s.

Chosen as an object made by Streetly Manufacturing Company: we have 21 other objects by the same manufacturer and information about one may help to unearth information about the others.

Contributing agents

David Harman Powell & Ian Holdsworth

What we wanted to know & what we found out

  • Designer: still wanted
  • Date: circa 1935

Importantly, we found that the information we had was incorrect. It is not a 'Dustette' but a 'Dudley' and it was not manufactured by Streetly Manufacturing Company but by the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

The case remains open: we still want to find out who designed this distinctive product and a more precise date for when production began.

Evidence trail

  • Personal testimony
  • Trade magazine
  • Expert website
  • Company website
  • History website

The hunt

Personal testimony

Agent Harman Powell provided considerable usuefull infomation about Streetly Manufacturing Company and how designing within the industry worked during its early years.

Trade magazine

Agent Holdsworth knew that Streetly Manufacturing Company usually, on producing a new product, would put a photograph and short description into the Moulded Plastics Trader magazine for publicity purposes but he could not find this product. This made him doubt whether it was a manufactured by Streetly.

Expert website

Agent Holdsworth then posted a message about the product on to which a collector calling himself Al replied. He said that the vacuum cleaner was not a Dustette but a Dudley, that it had a blue bag with this written on it, that he owned one and and would post a picture of it but he never did.

This is Al's post.


Al's post

Company Website

Agent Holdsworth then found on The Co-operative Group's website that the CWS purchased a prouducer co-operative, at Dudley, in 1908 and that by the 1930s many manufacturers were refusing to supply co-operative societies with electrical goods if they paid dividends on the items. Therefore, CWS began to produce more 'own-brand' electrical goods, moving into larger premises in 1934.

History Website

This was corroborated by a history website focused on the Black Country, the Black Country Bugle. An article on Dudley Bean that states that an offer was made for its bodyshop works in 1934 by the CWS and that co-operative products such as electric fires, irons, and vacuum cleaners were made in the factory. Could our Dudley have been made around this time?

The case remains open while we search for more information about who designed this vacuum cleaner. Can you help?

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