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!