Jan 22

British Legion, 1950s

My father, Tom Coulshed, was a keen active member of the British Legion after the war. The local branch used to meet in the Plough and Harrow. I am not sure if it will be possible to read the names in the top picture, so I will copy them here.

Branch Officials: President – Mr M. Baxter   Chairman – Mr T Redfern   Vice Chairman – Mr C J Kenyon

Secretary – Mr G Mills, 321 Ormskirk Road, Upholland.   Treasurer – Mr L Evans

Committee – Messrs. W Fairclough, H Turner, T Coulshed, J Coulshed, A Baxter, L S Yarwood,

J Glover, A.Ashcroft, W Dodson, H Caunce, H Snape

Service Committee: Chairman – Mr H Turner   Vice Chairman – Mr T Redfern

Secretary and Poppy Day Organiser – Mr J Glover   Treasurer – Mr L Evans

Standard Bearer – Mr G Mills.

(My dad, Tom Coulshed is second from the right, back row; my uncle Joe Coulshed is second from the left, back row. As for all the others, maybe someone will leave a comment and put names to faces.)

There was a blotter and calendar which came with this picture. I thought I would include a couple of pages to bring back memories of some of the local trades-persons and businesses of the 1950s

It might have been a good idea to put advertising on a blotter in those days – because we all used them, right? Very few people born after the 1950s would know what a blotter was!

My personal memories of this time – my dad (and the other British Legion members) used to sell poppies in the couple of weeks leading up to Remembrance Day. As soon as I was old enough to be able to walk around with him, Dad always took me with him to sell poppies. The poppies were in a tray that I carried with a strap that went around my neck. We walked all round Tawd Bridge and Grimshaw Lane, (that was my Dad’s “patch”) and knocked on everyone’s door. It was cold, dark and damp in early November as we did our rounds, but I was always proud to go out and sell poppies with my dad.




Jan 09

Washing Day (continued)

My Nana lived in a similar house further up the road in Grimshaw Lane. They had an outhouse at the back. It was a stone building attached to the house and I think originally it had been a type of barn. It had been used as a washhouse. Some of the old equipment was still there, for instance the dolly tubs. These were galvanized corrugated iron barrels. They were filled with water and the washing put in and agitated with a wooden implement called the dolly. Now that was hard work! However Nana didn’t use that equipment when I was there, she had graduated to an electric washing machine. This was a round tub on legs similar to the jazzer but with an Electric Motor and electric wringer. She kept this inside in the utility room at the back of the house. She had her own private backyard to hang her washing, but I must say it was still just as white and perfect as the washing in the communal backyards.

I did not know anyone who had an ironing board. A pad made of an old blanket and sheet was put on the dining table and the ironing done on that. Everything was ironed, including the sheets and pillowcases. No steam irons; I remember my Nana had a bottle of water with an attachment like a pepper-shaker, and water could be sprinkled on the ironing using this.

When we first arrived in Australia we were living in temporary migrant accommodation and again my Mam ended up using a communal washhouse, now refered to as a “laundry” in Australia. This was even cruder and even harder work than the facilities in England! To obtain hot water she was obliged to chop wood and make a fire under the copper, (a copper boiler set into a brick surround, with a fireplace underneath it.) There was no washing machine, just old cement troughs with a hand-operated wringer clamped on the side. Again, there were communal washing lines strung out across the garden.

Over the years, Mam graduated to a series of ever improving electric washing machines. She had a Hoover twin tub for many years and finally in about 1983 became the proud owner of an automatic top-loading washing machine. (We still have it to this day and it is still in regular use! Pretty amazing for a modern appliance to last for so long!)

We always found it amusing that even though Mam had a top notch fully automatic labour saving machine, she couldn’t bring herself to just turn it on and let it do its job. She always had to dissolve the detergent powder first in a bucket of warm water before adding it to the machine. She couldn’t let the machine just wash, she had to be fiddling with it and rearranging it. After it finished she always had to turn it on again to give the washing an extra rinse. Finally she would usually catch the rinsing water in buckets and put it on the garden. The old habit of washing being hard labour died hard with my Mam!


Jan 07

Washing Day, part 1

My Gran’s house at Tawd Bridge was one of a row of four old stone terrace houses with a shop at the end. My parents lived there after they were married and this is where I was born. There were three bedrooms upstairs, the parlour at the front, living room in the middle and a kitchen at the back. Gran’s house had a glass veranda built on at the back. These days it would be called a conservatory but then it was mainly used as a utility room. Most of the houses I knew at that time had a typical cooking range, which used an open fire. This was set in the living room, serving for warmth as well as cooking. At the back was a communal backyard shared by all of the families in the row. Across the backyard was a block of four separate toilets.

At the back of the toilet block was a shed built of timber with a tar-cloth clad roof and this was the washhouse. As far as I remember it contained tubs or troughs and a large cast iron mangle with wooden rollers, and these were for the use of all of the four houses.

In the backyard there were various poles and hooks  at strategic places where the housewives could string out the washing lines. They never left the lines out after washing day, they were all reeled in and put away when the washing was taken in, because soot dropping down from the coal fires would make the lines dirty. They used to use a prop, which was at 10 foot pole of 4X2 to hold up the sagging rope lines.

When I lived there my grandmother didn’t use the communal laundry, she did her washing in the glass veranda. She had a hand-operated washing machine, which they called a jazzer. It was a galvanized corrugated iron rectangular tub set on four angle iron legs with a wringer attached to one side. It had a wooden lid with an agitator and handle, which you cranked to operate the machine. A boiler provided the hot water for the washing. (This was a freestanding electric powered boiler, not the modern type of boiler which is integrated into a hot water service or central heating system.)

Every Monday it was washing day in the whole community. All of the housewives in the row of houses would do their washing on Monday, and hang out the washing on the communal lines all together.

Thinking of this makes me begin to understand why my mother was always so particular about her washing. In those days it was very important for those women to get their washing perfect because it had to go out on display in front of their neighbours.

Gran told me a story about her Grandmother Whittle, (who ran the shop at Tawd Bridge.) She had a little sideline job of “doing up” collars. The men wore detachable white collars to their shirts. These were laundered separately and starched very stiffly then ironed. Grandma Whittle would do up these collars for a small fee. There was another woman in the neighbourhood who also did up collars – a rival! One day this woman had been cleaning or black-leading the stove and her hands were stained black. She said to Grandma Whittle that she was about to go home and do a bit of baking to whiten her hands so that they would be clean to do up the collars! Grandma had a laugh thinking about that subsequent state of the baking!

Of course it was never guaranteed that you would be able to get your washing dry outside. The housewives were always very grateful for a good drying day. Even on a good day the washing may not be perfectly dry, so had to be aired before it was put away or used. Every house I knew had a line in the living room. This was a drying rack made of wooden slats attached to pulleys on the ceiling. You hung the washing on the line and pulled it up with a rope, and then it could hang until dry. Usually this line was placed near the cooking range for warmth. My Nana also had what was known as a maiden, a wooden rack which stood in front of the fire.

It was very hard work doing the washing in those days even when they had the hand cranked washing machines. All the water had to be carried twice, ladling it in and draining it out. It also entailed a lot of lifting of heavy wet washing and putting it through the wringer. When I was a little go they still used rubbing boards or washboards to scrub the stains out of the clothes. I remember that any day that we were not at school, my Gran would always try to commandeer us to scrub the socks. Our white socksuse to get very stained on the soles and had to be scrubbed on the washboard to get them clean. I really didn’t like this job, I was more interested in operating the wringer. I used to find it fascinating mainly because it was a bit dangerous and we were not really allowed to touch it. But very often I would get the job of turning the handle while an adult put the washing through the wringer.

When we moved to our own house at Tawd Bridge the configuration of the house was very similar to Gran’s, with a utility room at the back where mum had a hand-operated washing machine and an electric boiler to do their washing.

(To the editor of this blog – thanks for the us of the image, and I hope you will leave a comment to explain your connection with The Housewife’s Darling.)