Henry may be a British icon, but does the classic vacuum cleaner still suck today?
- Long reach
- Enormous nine-litre capacity
- Great cleaning on a budget
Henry is getting on a bit. That iconic British vacuum cleaner turns 37 this year, first popping up in British homes way back in the early 1980s. He, along with his similarly named companions, is a staple in British households and offices up and down the country, but does the Henry Hoover still hold a place in the modern home?
There’s clearly something about that smiling face that seems to work. It’s a little gimmicky sure, Numatic is cute-ifying a hoover after all, but it’s a tactic that’s helped make Henry one of the most popular vacuum cleaners around. And he’s all patriotic, too. Take him out the box and there’s a whacking great “Made in Great Britain” tag strapped to the top.
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Forget Henry’s anthropomorphism for a second, though. We’re here to see whether Henry should be as popular as he is. First up, this latest iteration of Henry – the HVR200-11 – is seriously heavy. This isn’t a compact cordless cleaner like Dyson’s Absolute range; it’s is a full-on bagged cylinder vacuum that weighs in at a hefty 8kg. It’s cumbersome, won’t store neatly on a wall bracket and will take up a sizeable chunk of space in your cupboard. Henry is a big guy.
But with the weight (and size) comes ruggedness. Henry is built to last. Heck, my mum’s shop has used the same Henry for the last 20-odd years. This isn’t some cheap, disposable vacuum. It’s easy to maintain and repair, and will likely still be kicking about long after your kids move out.
Henry Hoover review: Price and competition
However, is Henry the right vacuum for you? Vacuum cleaner tech has progressed massively since Henry’s inception and the cordless vacuum cleaner has risen in popularity, with Dyson’s lightweight and powerful models – quite literally– leading the charge.
At £140, Henry is still cheaper than anything Dyson can muster – the cheapest is the Dyson V7 at £200 – and Henry also trumps the lot of them with its superior suction power. There are also a wide variety of vacuums in the Henry range. James has a slightly higher capacity at eight litres as opposed to six, so is perfect for larger homes, the Henry Xtra comes with more accessories, and Henry Micro is allergy protected. Harry is for pet owners, and George is a steam cleaner-come-vacuum hybrid. Lastly, there’s Charles, who can clean up liquid spills and has a more powerful 1,060-watt twin motor for stubborn dirt.
if you did fancy a cordless vacuum, however, then the Dyson V7 is our top pick.
Henry Hoover review: Performance
Henry is also hugely practical. The 2.3m long flexible hose is perfect for reaching awkward places, and should see you vacuuming up and down your stairs with minimal effort.
There’s an enormous amount of mains cable, with 26.8m of the stuff coiled inside the top of the cleaner. That means, once you’ve plugged it in, you shouldn’t have to unplug and relocate as you make your way around the house. Winding it back in is a bit of a pain, though, since you have to do it by hand. Henry’s nine-litre capacity means you shouldn’t have to keep emptying it all the time, however.
When the time does come to empty him, though, Henry’s simple design makes this an easy job. Simply unclip the top part, which contains the motor and mains cable, lift out the “TriTex” filter, disengage the dust bag and fit a new one in its place. Replacements are pretty cheap at around £12 for 20, as are replacement filters (around £6), so there’s no excuse for not keeping on top of vacuum maintenance.
For a bit of extra capacity you can even forgo the bag entirely and rely on the filter alone to protect the motors, but the sheer bulk of Henry’s nine-litre bucket means tipping it up and emptying it into the bin can be awkward. For the sake of your back I’d advise sticking with the supplied bags where possible.
On the downside, Henry’s main cleaning head isn’t the most manoeuvrable. I often found myself fighting to line it up where I wanted it to go. And suction isn’t the best. In my tests, I found Henry failed to pick up tricky dirt on the first pass, pushing flecks of cat litter around, forcing multiple passes to get everything cleaned up. In the end, Henry did suck up most of what I’d dropped but cleaning up those stubborn remains sometimes felt like an uphill battle. There’s no fancy turbo mode to tackle ingrained dirt, either. It’s on or off. That’s your lot.
It’s not deafeningly loud, though. At just 72dB (with background office air con hitting 53dB), Henry matches Dyson’s silent V6 Absolute for quietness. It’s easy to talk over and (hopefully) shouldn’t wake the baby. It scared off my cats but they’ll dart away from as much as a sneeze. Henry is a decent energy saver at 620W, too, and should be far more cost effective in the long run than Samsung’s power-hungry F500.
The cleaner also comes with a bunch of tools and add-ons: including smaller brushes, a thin crevice tool and different sized steel tubes. There’s no supplied bag or space in/around Henry to put them, though. Regardless, they’re a tight fit, without the need for suction clips or the like, and didn’t slip off during testing.
Henry Hoover review: Verdict
Henry is the quintessential vacuum cleaner. Harking back to a time of shoulder pads and denim jackets, he may be filled with nostalgia, but he’s a practical addition to the 2017 household. He’s cheaper than most and does the job well, just don’t expect Dyson-like levels of versatility or suction. And for £90 you’re getting one of the most reliable vacuum cleaners on the market.
Perfect for cleaning on a budget, you can’t go wrong with a Henry. The Henry Hoover is a staple of the British home, and will continue to be for years to come. Just look at that face, try saying no to that.