Prestcold Packaway Refrigerator

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Prestcold Packaway refrigerator
Manufacturer Prestcold
Production years 1959
Production location almost certainly Pressed Steel Plant at Cowley, Oxford - before the move to Swansea

Prestcold Packaway refrigerator, 1959

During the 1950s, the importance of industrial design to British industry was recognised by various award schemes. In 1959 the Duke of Edinburgh instituted his Prize for Elegant Design. The intention was “to reward the contribution of the designer to the success of industrial and commercial enterprises”. The first winner was the Pressed Steel Co. Ltd of Oxford for its Prestcold Packaway refrigerator, and its designer, C W F Longman.

Since 1997 the award has been known as the Prince Philip Designer Prize.

How it works

The refrigerator relies on a change in pressure of a liquid in a closed system to take heat away from the chiller cabinet and radiate it into the air.


I grew up with this fridge during the 60s and 70s. My mum bought it new in 1959 and she didn't replace it until the early 1990s. It was rather noisy towards the end, but always worked well and reliably.

— Catherine Dillon

My parents bought one in 1959. Their very first fridge! Complete with wall-hanging system. It chugged on until 2004, as a drinks fridge in my garage, but then the garage went, and so did it. Built to last.

— John Wiltshire

It is 2008 and I am still using this fridge, for over 28 years now and it was old when I was given it. Yes, it ices up far too much and is a bit noisy, but how could I replace its chrome and style? Built to last indeed.

— Mary B, Hammersmith, London

Cecil (Charles) Longman has rightly received the plaudits for this fridge. However,the workings of the fridge had to be minituarised to fit into Charles exterior design. This team of highly skilled engineers was led by Archie Murdoch, a lifelong refrigeration engineer.

— Rob M, Cornwall

It is 2009, my parents bought one I think in 1960 and it has survived them in good working order, never repaired to my knowledge, all the drawers and shelves are intact and there is no mould inside. It needs defrosting weekly when in regular use, I would love it to go to a museum.

— Rose Rye

Bought as a wedding gift in 1960, and still in use in my parents' kitchen today. It runs a bit warm, and the ice box door is held on with an elastic band, but otherwise fine. Doesn't ice up too badly - the door seal is still in good condition. Probably full of CFCs, so will be hard to dispose of when it finally does die... (update: I recently found the instructions and guarantee:

— Kim P, London

In the Science Museum

Source: B M Stuart. Inv. No: 1987-1148

Audio Tour Call 020 7112 2020 when Prompted dial 911

Dan Dare & the Birth of Hi-Tech BritainThis object is currently on display in the Dan Dare & the Birth of Hi-Tech Britain exhibition at the Science Museum, London.