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A vintage vacuum cleaner, the ‘Hoover Junior’ model 119, produced by The Hoover Company (Ohio) purchased from Victor Freed Ltd, Aberdare in 1954. The Hoover Company was formed in 1908 and became an international power in vacuum cleaning by the 1950s. By the 1930s, the Hoover Juniors were being manufactured in London. The Hoover Junior model 119 was released in 1949 and enjoyed an eight-year run. Its release also provided a new, state-of-the-art development: the Vertiflex plastic flexible hose. This represented a real improvement on cloth-covered hoses, that lost suction over time. The customer also purchased the set of accessories with the vacuum, this included two different brush cleaning tools, a flat, long brush and a wider, soft brush as well as the flexible hose.

This purchase of this hoover and accessory set, produced by such a popular and reputable brand, shows that Victor Freed Ltd lived up to their claims of providing access to great quality products. This also would have been considered a significant purchase for the people of a small town like Aberdare, to feel as if they owned a product being made and used in cities such as London.

Victor Freed was a prominent member of the Jewish community in Aberdare. Born in Russia in 1883, he opened his first shop in Mountain Ash in 1904. By the 1930s he had opened multiple shops in Aberdare and by the 1950s had also started trading in Cardiff.

The shops sold house furnishings, musical instruments and electrical goods, with many stores specialising in one type of product. The entire family became involved in the Victor Freed business, including his two daughters, Edna and Beatrice, who worked as shop assistants at the radio department.

In 1941, he was elected as President of Aberdare Rotarian Club, after being a member for 8 years, and was recognised for his public services in the valley. His son, Aubrey, became President in 1968.
Victor was known for his philanthropic works, helping to furnish the 1960s council houses in Aberdare and in 1958 funded an entire ward in the new Penylan Home for the Aged Jews of Cardiff.

He was heavily involved with the synagogue in Aberdare, filling a variety of roles including being its last ever secretary.

Victor died in 1966, aged 83.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Cynon Valley had a small Jewish community, consisting of some fifty families throughout the towns of Abercynon, Penrhiwceiber, Mountain Ash, Aberaman and Aberdare. Most of Jewish families came to Aberdare from Eastern Europe, mainly Russia. The earliest record of Jewish presence and activity in the Cynon Valley dates to 1858-9. The name of Harris Freedman and the partnership of Lyons and Hyman are listed as trading as pawnbrokers and general dealers in Aberdare.

Initially the Jewish community worshipped in individuals' homes or business premises but in 1887 David Hart allowed the use of his premises at 19a Seymour Street, Aberdare, as a permanent Synagogue. The Aberdare Hebrew congregation was at its largest, with around 90 members, from the 1910s to the 1930s. However, the community declined and services had virtually ceased by 1957, when the congregation was down to 35. In 1966 it was reported that services were no longer held there. The building, now a private residence again, received a blue commemorative plaque in 2015.

Depository: Cynon Valley Museum: ACVMS 2009 660, ACVMS 2009 662

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