Market Lavington Museum

Beating the carpet

Whilst these devices were always called carpet beaters, more commonly they’d have been used on rugs. Carpets may have been beaten on something like a once a year basis.

Picture a 1920s house. The furnishings may have been simple and the floor covering probably would not have involved fitted carpets. There may have been carpet squares in some rooms or just rugs in various places.

All the usual dust, mud, pet hairs, dropped food etc. would have got into any rugs and carpets – just as happens today.

But you didn’t have a powerful vacuum cleaner to suck it all out again. From time to time, you took rugs and carpets out, hung them over a clothes line and gave them a good walloping. The device you used to hit them may have looked like this.

Carpet Beater dating from the 1920s at Market Lavington Museum

Carpet Beater dating from the 1920s at Market Lavington Museum

This carpet beater is made of twisted bamboo with a sturdy steel ferrule to hold it all together. It can be found hanging by the range in the museum kitchen but it once belonged to Miss Partridge of Spin Hill in Market Lavington.

The modern, all electric person may not understand how beating a carpet cleaned it. When you hit the carpet, it suddenly moves forward. Dust and dirt, loosely attached, doesn’t move forward so it falls out. The design of the beater (ours is 72 cm long and the beating head is 17cm across) is such that quite a large area of carpet is moved, but the beater has a minimum of structure to stop the debris from falling out.

It makes an attractive looking device which was very functional