Bradley & Co Ltd of Mount Pleasant, Bilston, were founded in 1872 and eventually changed their name to Beldray - an anagram of the founder's name.   They originally made brass and copperware and soon added tin plate wares of all sorts.  This got them into domestic appliances of a great variety and they became especially famous for their ironing boards and ladders.  They were in business until 2005 when they closed down in the face of far eastern competition. They do not seem to have done much in the way of cooking utensils and equipment but the Beldray Rapid Vacuum Freezer was one exception.  It seems to have been made in the 1920s or 30s.

The Beldray Rapid Freezer, size 3.

The freezer was for making ice cream.  It came in four sizes, which made 1, 2, 3 or 4 quarts of ice cream.  The photo shows an actual example of the number 3 size. It is just over 12 inches high and about 10 inches across.  The freezer was basically a tin plate barrel.  Inside it was suspended a kind of silvered flask, like that inside a "Thermos" flask.  There was a cover, sealed with rubber rings, at the top and at the bottom.  You undid the bottom and filled the cavity between the barrel and the flask with finely chopped or crushed ice and salt - not any salt but freezing salt which "can be obtained from any fishmonger".  You then put the bottom back on and took the top off.  That revealed the flask, into which you poured your ice cream mixture.  Then you put the lid back on and left it.  You had to stir the mixture every ten minutes but otherwise you just left it for about 45 minutes when, lo and behold, the flask contained ice cream.
Using only ice without the salt, the Freezer would also keep salads, sandwiches and fruits fresh - in other words, you could use it rather like a primitive refrigerator.

According to the instruction and recipe booklet which came with the freezer,  ice cream was good for you - "good for every member of the family from the youngest to the oldest".  This is because it has "a very definite food vale, greater and more concentrated than that of meat, fish, vegetables or other foods".  This value is demonstrated by the fact that "every pound of pure ice cream contains nearly 1,000 calories, all of which is assimilated by the body".  

So wonderful is this food that "During the World War the allied armies consumed enormous quantities, it being realised that nothing could more quickly refresh the troops after long marches and strenuous engagements, or do more to promote rapid recovery from illness or injury".

Cover of the instruction and recipe booklet.

The booklet reflects aspects of the life style of the times and the way it was changing.  After it has suggested serving ice cream at "small impromptu dances" it goes on to comment that "For many of us a car has widened our horizon, made a day or two in the countryside possible during every week of the summer.  No one will begrudge travelling space to the "Rapid" Freezer, and then it will simply be a case of Ice Cream - cool and refreshing - when and wherever it is wished".

The booklet contained many recipes, divided into ice cream, frappes and ices.  Below is one recipe from each section.

Chocolate Ice Cream

l.5 cups milk 2 eggs
1.5 cups confectioner's sugar 2 tablespoons cold water
6 tablespoons grated chocolate or cocoa 0.5 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups cream 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat eggs and sugar until light.  Stir the cold water into the chocolate or cocoa and dissolve over hot water, then add to the eggs and sugar.  Stir in milk - strain through cheesecloth or fine sieve.  Flavour with vanilla; and salt to cream and whip until stiff.  Add to mixture. Freeze.  

Pineapple Frappe

4 cups grated tinned pineapple 0.5 cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon pineapple extract
3 cups water

Boil water and sugar for ten minutes.  Pour the hot syrup over pineapple.  When cold, add lemon juice and pineapple extract.  Freeze.

Fruit Granite

4 cups cider 1 cup pineapple, tinned
1 cup peach or apricot juice, tinned 0.25 cup lemon juice
1 cup orange juice 1.5 cups sugar

Stir fruit juice with sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  Freeze.  Serve in a punch bowl into which is placed two cups of crushed or shaved ice.  

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