Retired couple’s 88-year-old vacuum also paints, polishes, grinds coffee and minces MEAT


While millions of Brits clean their homes after the Christmas period a retired couple will be using a 88-year-old hoover which also paints, grinds coffee – and even minces MEAT.

Mary Waite, 61, and her husband Ivor, 63, have been using their Piccolo multi-purpose appliance since it was given to them as a wedding present in 1963.

Remarkably, the plastic and metal gadget, which does four household chores in one, was built in 1925 but still works today and has NEVER broken down.

Mary Waite with her 88-year-old Piccolo machine
Mary Waite with her 88-year-old Piccolo machine

The Piccolo – which cost 20 guineas, around £25 in today’s money – works as a conventional vacuum cleaner while another chamber can be used as a paint sprayer.

It was made by German company Hammelmann Werke in the early 20th century and was promoted as the future of household appliances.

Two other chambers operate as a coffee grinder and even a food processor which specialises in mincing meat.

Mary, a retired cleaner, from Halesowen, West Mids., recently won a competition to find the oldest working appliance in the Black Country.

She said: “My husband’s aunt gave us the Piccolo as a wedding gift. It was almost brand new and still in its wrapper so obviously had not been used very much.

The instruction manual from the Piccolo machine
The instruction manual from the Piccolo machine
Pictures show how to use the household appliance
Pictures show how to use the household appliance

“We were absolutely delighted, it was quite a space-age thing to have in your house at that time and I remember our neigbours popped in just to have a look at it in action.

“It’s a coffee grinder, a mincer, a food processor, a vacuum cleaner, paint sprayer – you name it, it can do it.

“The attachments all plug into one machine. Our son, David, still uses it to vacuum his car and I use the meat mincer and the coffee grinder.

“It has never once broken down and is the most reliable appliance I have ever used.

“I use some of the attachments more than others like the mincing machine I use the most.

“The mincer is useful when I have cooked a joint of meat and I have some left over. I slice the meat up and dice it and then ram it into the mincer with onions.

“I have also used it as a buffering machine, when I lived in my father’s house I used to get his floor really clean with it by putting a cloth on the end because the vacuum wasn’t
very good.

“We used the coffee grinder a lot in the past but now my husband doesn’t buy that kind of

“I will never give it up for anything modern. Modern appliances are just not as strong.

“At Christmas it is constantly being used, either to prepare food or clean up afterwards.

“I pity those people who have to make do with modern gadgets, I would be lost without my Picollo.”

Mary showcased the Picollo at Chapmans Electrical shop in nearby in Cradley Heath, West Mids, when it launched a contest to find the region’s oldest working household gadget.

The managing director Robert Chapman, said: “It’s surprising what people have still got in good working order but we were stunned when Mary brought in her Piccolo.

“All the Piccolos made were made between 1925 and 1930 by a German company and they were then imported into the country.

“I think at the time they would have been worth about 20 guineas, so about £25 in today’s money which was about a month’s wages then.”


  1. When they got it in 1963, it was already 35 years old, and they thought of it as a “space-age thing”? Also, why is it so hard to spell “Piccolo” consistently?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here