Meet the remarkable woman who permanently lives in 1939 – and see how she’s transformed her home
Story by kind permission Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: March 07, 2016
By David Elliott
SOME people may dream of leaving the technology, trials, tribulations and fast pace of modern life behind and returning to a rosier bygone era.
But one North Lincolnshire woman has done exactly that and for the last 10 years, has lived her life as if it is permanently 1939.
For Joanna Francis, 39, of Burton-Upon-Stather, a typical day begins with emptying her chamber pot, before getting dressed into period clothing and heading out to work on her 1937 Raleigh bicycle.
Then, after returning home, stoking the fire and cooking a simple meal, she often spends evenings listening to records on her gramophone or hosting friends.
Joanna said she had always been interested in the 1930s and 1940s era, but started to live the authentic lifestyle after buying her home 10 years ago. Since then, she has stripped out modern facilities and technology and faithfully restored it to how it would have been in the late 1930s.
She said: "When I bought the house, I wanted to have it as it would have been in the 1930s and 1940s.
"I have always had a thing for the past and this era particularly.
"I don't know where it came from, but I have always been interested, right from primary school.
"One of my teachers was really interested in that era and I had this empathy with the passion he had for that era.
"I have always been interested and when I used to go to museums and see their 1930s and 1940s rooms, it felt natural.
"I think the museums set off wanting to live like this. I wanted it all to be alive and that is what I have done."
Joanna does not own a television or computer, travels on her bicycle and has not used a washing machine for 10 years.
She works for herself as a "daily" – a type of housemaid – cleaning homes around Burton and the surrounding villages and caring for the elderly.
And she said one of the main advantages of her lifestyle was its health benefits.
She said: "It is a healthier way of living and you keep fit.
"I try to eat the food they would have had and I bicycle to work like they would have done.
"Modern people like to sit down, play games and type on their computer.
"But in the time they are doing that, I am doing something else like washing clothes, or I am out in the garden, or playing gramophone records and dancing around the room on my own, looking daft.
"If you compare my time at home to a modern person's, I probably do a lot more miles in my house than they do."
Joanna, whose one concession to modern life is her mobile phone, said her lifestyle did have some disadvantages.
They include being "out of touch" with modern events, although friends keep her up-to-date with the news and she picks up "snippets" from newspapers.
But she said the biggest down side of her lifestyle was finding somebody to share it with.
She said: "The biggest disadvantage is finding the right man for me.
"I have dated a few men and they are all right for a while, but they come here, see how it is and it is a bit more than they thought it was. It is not a weekend hobby, it is a 24/7 hobby.
"It is a very big, deep passion and unless you are genuinely interested, a relationship isn't going to last."
Joanna has featured in national newspapers and on ITV programme Good Morning Britain this week as her lifestyle attracted nationwide attention.
But she said: "The worst thing is I am dreadful when I am centre-stage – it is not my cup of tea and I am the first one to hide behind everybody else.
"My friends have been good and have been telling me what people have been saying.
"Overall, apparently it is very supportive and people are really interested, which is quite shocking because I am surprised people are interested.
"My house is so quiet and everybody else moves so fast, so it is hard for me to process."
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