Dictionary of Sydney

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Mr Pat Cullen remembers using charcoal burners in cars during World War II, interviewed in 1986

Mr Pat Cullen was born in 1912 and was interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960' project. Here he remembers the charcoal burners that were used to replace petrol in cars during World War II.


PAT: In the war years, we did our work here, we sold charcoal burners, they were a big thing in those days.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us about those? Were they instead of petrol?

PAT: Yes, petrol got rationed to a very great extent and we had charcoal burners that we fitted onto the backs of cars. We bought the charcoal from Bringelly Council. There they used to burn the charcoal and bring it in. All the cars ran very well on this charcoal over a period of years.

INTERVIEWER: How did it work?

PAT: You started the engine up by a blower, made the gas in the charcoal burn by a blower. If you had a little drop of petrol you could start the engine and get the fire going. The air going through the charcoal made it get red hot, and this red hot gas, red hot coke, gas came off it. It would burn quite ok. They’re quite good. In fact, I kept one under my house for years thinking I might come back to it one day but I got rid of it eventually. I supplied all the charcoal burners for all the market gardeners out at Leppington.

Contributed By
(Excerpt from interview with Mr Pat Cullen from the 'Looking back at Liverpool : an oral history of the Liverpool region 1900-1960' conducted in 1986 by Liverpool City Council, editor and project co-ordinator Catherine Johnson ; researchers Angela Imbrosciano, Verica Miiosavijevic, Kathleen Smith.)