Household Names is all about the iconic Russell Hobbs automatic kettles of the 1950s and 60s and the people who invented, designed and made them, set in the wider context of the British economy and culture in the second half of the twentieth century.
Russell Hobbs (founded 1952) was the brainchild of Bill Russell and Peter Hobbs. They’d started out at Morphy Richards before parting company and setting up on their own, with Bill on design and engineering and Russell on marketing and sales.
Demonstrating the significance of invention and design for successful manufacturing, often neglected by British firms, especially during the latter part of the 20th century, their stories provide object lessons in how successful product manufacturing might still be done. Russell Hobbs was independent for only a decade but in that short time established an international reputation for design quality.
Brexit and the Coronavirus will almost certainly force the British industry to pay more attention to local manufacturing again and this is a timely look at the origins of a household name by Nicholas Russell the son of Bill Russell.
Nicholas Russell has degrees in Botany and the History of Technology has published papers on the history of agriculture, technology and science. He has taught Applied Biology and History of Science and Technology for many years and has worked extensively as a freelance science and education journalist for the Independent, New Scientist, Times Educational Supplement, THES and History Today among others. Most recently he worked at Imperial College London, teaching postgraduate programmes. He remains Emeritus Reader in Science Communication and published a textbook, Science Communication, Professional, Popular, Literary (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Nicholas lives in Bath.