February 02, 2016

Blast from the past

Isn't it strange how some things can bring back vivid memories? Wandering around a museum in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago I came across an object that took me straight back to my childhood. It wasn't supposed to. It was illustrating a typical bench in a cutlery factory and it was just a dumping place for the bits and pieces that would otherwise make the area untidy. It was an Ostermilk tin. Ostermilk was a powdered milk baby food which - presumably - I was raised on. I make that assumption because there was an empty tin in our pantry when I was growing up. Well, it wasn't empty exactly, just empty of Ostermilk.

Mother used the tin to keep control of her cake decorating gear: icing bits, piping nozzles, plaster Santa figures and waxed paper holly leaves, cochineal, glace cherries and a folded sheet of candied angelica. I used to love that tin and - wicked child that I was - often stole a sliver of the angelica and a sticky cherry as a naughty treat when no-one was looking.

I have no idea what happened to it. By the time she died, mother had transferred the gear to an old tea caddy, and not a particularly special one at that. I know the bits and bobs went to my sister because she inherited the cake decorating gene (I had Dad's painting gear.) but the Ostermilk tin was long gone by then,

To be fair, until I saw the one in Sheffield I had forgotten all about it. It's weird what a trip to a museum can do to you. Can't say I remember much about cutlery making after my visit, but I have a vivid picture of the pantry in my head!


  1. Sheffeild England? Gosh I have been trying to find my GrandMothers
    family there 1880's They were the Burke's, three daughters Hannah, Mary and Ada. How can I trace them? If you have an email I could contact them. Thanks Yvonne

  2. I would recommend Ancestry.com where you can look at births, marriages and deaths, electoral rolls, census returns and all manner of other information. Good luck with your search!


Leave your mark for future historians.