Recycling 1940s style

See what your great-grandmother recycled at the next Miss Porter’s House Museum Open Day. Florence, Ella and Hazel Porter made, mended and recycled soap, shoes, furniture, flour bags and much more.
Find out how a soap saver works, what an egg has to do with darning and how flour bags can be turned into clothing.

Miss Porter’s House was built by Ella and Hazel’s father in 1909 and is a freestanding Edwardian terrace containing the possessions of the Porter family. Visit and re-live sustainability as practised in the early twentieth century. Ella and Hazel Porter were not rich. Their father, the breadwinner, died in 1919 when they were under 9 years old. They worked as secretaries, typists and shop assistants supporting themselves and their mother.

The variety of manufactured goods we take for granted today did not exist and many who lived through the Great Depression (1929 onward) learnt to reuse and recycle, habits which continued through life. The Porter women made their own clothes, remodelled older clothes, and mended tears and rips. They knitted, crocheted and sewed, made baskets, embroidered pillowslips and stencilled tablecloths. Whatever could be repaired, was repaired and they ate home cooked meals.

Unfortunately, we only have a few sources of information about what the sisters did during World War II but they were good dressmakers and adapting clothes in a time of war and rationing would not have been difficult. The Australian government even issued ‘New Clothes for Old’ with lots of ideas on how to adapt garments for reuse. We don’t know for sure, but given their skills, Florence, Ella and Hazel Porter probably also knitted socks for the troops. The Miss Porter’s House collection also has several examples of darning, something we rarely do nowadays. Favourite dresses, which faded with washing and wear, were also patched and darned. So, visit and re-live sustainability as practised in the early twentieth century.


Tickets: Adults $10, Concessions $8, Family $25, children under 5 free 

Enquiries: 4927 0202 


Plan your Visit

Miss Porter’s House


434 King Street
Newcastle West 2302 NSW

(02) 4927 0202
Entry Fees:

National Trust members (and children under 5 yrs) - Free
Adults - $10.00
Concession -$8.00
Family - $25

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