Audio Description – Wilkins-Servis washing machine

Click on the play button to hear an audio description of the Wilkins-Servis washing machine

Hurstville Museum & Gallery has recently undertaken an audio descriptions project for a number of collection items to help increase the accessibility of the collection. This entry is part of the project.

Image 1: Wilkins-Servis washing machine in Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s collection
Image 2: Wilkins-Servis washing machine in Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s collection

In 1904, Walters Wilkins and friend Tom Mitchell established the engineering firm Wilkins and Mitchell Ltd in England, and went on to launch their first Servis washing machine in 1929[1]. During the 1950s the Australian-manufactured brand Wilkins-Servis, as a subsidiary of its UK based parent company, were made in Australia at factories in Perth and Adelaide. In Australia, the Wilkins-Servis washing machine reached the peak of its popularity during the 1960s, before the company went into administration in 1978.

Prior to the 1950s, washing clothes was a time-consuming, labour-intensive task undertaken by women. Often a whole day was set aside to doing the washing (usually a Monday). By the 1870s, when efforts to produce a machine that was labour saving and effective for clothes washing, 2,000 patents had been issued in the United States for such a machine. It was not until 1910, however, that the first electric washing was patented, which was the ‘true turning point in washing machine design’[2].Electric washing machines, such as those manufactured by Wilkins-Servis, offered a much valued labour saving device for the modern home. 

Image 3: Advertising for Whirlpool and Wilkins-Servis washing machines, c. 1960s 
Image 4: 1950s old vintage original British magazine advert advertising Servis electric washing machines, dated 1958

Find out more about this item on e-hive, our collection database.

[1] ‘Servis Timeline’ ,

[2] ‘Washing machine’, MAAS,

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