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Dolls' Houses
Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern.
Plus furniture and accessories.

Issue 31 (October 2019)

Blast from the Past

by Rebecca Green

Nine years ago, in Issue 6, I wrote an article about Dolls Houses in War-time Tasmania, Australia. I had found, browsing through digitised newspapers from the war years, that many dolls houses were made and raffled to raise funds for the war effort.

One of the dolls houses I included in the article was made in May 1944, by two Hobart children, for the Red Cross. They called the dolls house Austerity House, because it was made from "boxes and "bits and pieces" at the cost of 1/." This is the photo as it appeared in the newspaper The Mercury in Hobart, Tasmania:

Photo from 1944 newspaper of two children with dolls house they made

The newspaper wrote that the children were Brian Kemp, aged 8, and Ann Kemp, aged 10; their father, LAC Wilfred Kemp, was in the Royal Australian Air Force. Brian had already made models of a man-o'-war and a hospital ship, which he had donated to the Prisoners of War shop. Ann was "an accomplished knitter, making her own jumpers and cardigans, and now knitting her first pair of gloves." She made "vases and pot plants [for the dolls house] from coloured bottle tops, and match boxes and cotton reels were used in the construction of the furniture." The dolls house was won by Betty Groombridge, of Lower Longley.

On 4 May this year, the same newspaper published the photo as a Blast from the Past! Member Jan Jones from Hobart alerted me to it - we had just caught up at the Sydney Miniatures and Dolls House Fair that very weekend!

2019 article in Mercury newspaper about 1944 photo

One month later, The Mercury was able to publish a follow-up article. Thanks to Jan Jones as intermediary, and to The Mercury for letting us share this heart-warming story, and see much clearer photos of the dolls house, including an interior view in colour. I love the kookaburra over the fireplace!

2019 article about earlier articles

All print text and images© The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania.