The Colt Blackout Ventilator

Made:
1940-1945

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Blackout ventilator made by Colt Ventilation Ltd, around 1940.

This blackout ventilator was designed to replace a single pane of glass in a factory or workshop window to provide ventilation, whilst preventing the escape of light from the factory in the hours of blackout during the Second World War. The ventilators were not mechanical, rather their design allowed the free flow of air through their angled slats, which also trapped light.

Factories and workshops were hastily prepared for blackouts in 1939, with little consideration of the impact on ventilation. Concerns were soon raised about the effects of a lack of ventilation on worker health. Poor ventilation kept factory temperatures high and prevented the escape of dust or harmful gases from chemicals used in some manufacturing, particularly during wartime. Even decades after the War, there were cases of illness and death which were put down to wartime work in unventilated factories.

Colt Ventilation Ltd, who had set up business in 1931 in London manufacturing ventilation systems, devised a range of blackout ventilators in 1940, marketing them to industry via agents across the country, including in Manchester. Solving the problem of industrial ventilation became the firm’s primary focus during wartime. After the war, Colt adapted their wartime invention and marketed it for peacetime.

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