This paraffin gas burner was manufactured in the early to mid 20th century by the Valor company, and was designed both to warm a space, and to be a cooking stove.  It is made predominently of metal, in this case painted green, and consists of: a reservoir at the base, into which the paraffin could be poured through a hinged stopper; a chimney which housed the wick, with a hinged glass window allowing access to light or trim the wick; and a flat, round surface on the top with ribs to support a kettle or saucepan for heating.

Items such as this were popular in the early 20th century were popular as they were portable (not requiring an electrical socket), so they could be placed wherever warm air was specifically needed.  They were often used in unheated bathrooms, workshops, garages or greenhouses to provide a low-level background warmth.  Paraffin was also a relatively cheap form of fuel at the time.

There were inherent dangers in using these heaters, however, the chief being that they burned with a naked flame and were a significant fire risk if knocked over or if the fuel was spilled.  They also gave off nasty fumes as they burned, so if used within a confined space were particularly unhealthy.  They were particularly popular with owners of allotments, as they allowed busy gardeners to stop and have a warming cup of tea in their shed whenever required!



More information:

Date 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s
Material(s) MetalGlass
Item number MBPO202

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Did anyone in your family or group of friends ever use a portable heater/stove like this?
  • Do you remember anyone from your past who grew their own veg or had an allotment?
  • Do you remember the advertising campaign for Esso Blue?

User Stories

I remember a slightly smaller and more modern version of this from my youth.  In the 1970’s, my Dad had a “primus stove”, which was just a tiny version of the one featured here.  It had a reservoir for the paraffin and a metal stand which could just about manage to balance an old whistling kettle on top.  Dad would take it with us on days when we went to the New Forest, to spend the day walking, playing ball games and eating a picnic.  He would find a safe, flat place to stand it, check to see there was paraffin in the reservoir, alter the height of the wick by turning a little wheel, and then lighting it.  We would all have a lovely hot cup of tea with our sandwiches and cakes, and never did a cup of tea taste so delicious!

Share your thoughts on this item

Join the discussion by sharing your memories of this item with other website visitors.