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I am grateful to Tim Trounce for providing an old copy of a sales brochure for the Flatley clothes dryer.
The front cover of the brochure clearly shows that the anticipated price of a Flatley in the UK was £12-12-9. This was of course in the old pre-decimal money and was equivalent to just over £12.50 in post decimalisation money. There is no way that such equipment could sell at a similarly low price today - just another of the many indicators of inflation on this website!
The definitive price suggests that this brochure was printed during the period of Retail Price Maintenance, i.e. of fixed prices for identical items in all shops - a feature of the rationing of the Second World War. Retail Price Maintenance ended as late as 1964, so allowing competition between retailers who reduced their prices to attract custom. In fact the date on the back page is 1958.
The scribbled prices on the Flatley brochure show that the retailer reduced his price several times, firstly to £10-18-6 and then to £9.18.0 and finally to £9.15.0. So he was still using the same brochure after 1964.
The brochure suggests all sorts of uses for the Flatley apart from airing clothes, which my husband and I had no idea of when we were using our Flatley. A large legible image which elaborates and illustrates these uses is on its own page. They include airing clothes, drying pots, heating rooms, warming food, cooking meringues and drying film.
I must admit that even if we had had known about these alternative uses, I doubt we would have put them to use. Our Flatley was more basic one than the one shown on the brochure page and it did not have the protective grid on the base. Hanging anything inside that might have fallen onto the heater was extremely dangerous. So we loaded the Flatley carefully and never left it unattended.
Apart from this, cooking meringues and drying films would have seemed good ideas, but drippings of the meringue mixture would have generated a dreadful smell and would have been difficult to clean up anyway.
Your description of the Flatley dryer brought back memories of school uniforms being warmed in it. Very cosy before going to school on a cold day.
Although we did develop and print our own films occasionally, there would have been the same hazard if a film had dropped onto the heater.
As we were, at that time a family of two, drying pots by hand or on the draining board was not really a big deal - and it didn't use electricity!. So we didn't use the Flatley for that. If we had been a larger family at the time, I suspect that the hassle of loading and unloading pots would have been equivalent to normal drying.
Heating rooms with the Flatley might have worked well as the heat would have been like that of a radiator - and central heating in homes was a rare luxury at the time. For us, though, at the time, room heating was a side benefit of airing clothes. We always used the Flatley with the lid off to hasten drying and to avoid overheating. The brochure shows vents in the lid which were absent from our more basic Flatley.