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!


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About Edith C

Born in Tawd Bridge, attended Digmoor school and chapel. Migrated to Australia in 1958, but have been back to Upholland for visits on several occasions since. Was a teacher, now retired. I would like to keep in touch with the people of Tawd Bridge, Upholland and Skelmersdale, I still have a fond and deep connection with the home of my childhood.

2 thoughts on “Washing Day (continued)

  1. Another interesting story from Edith .Its hard to believe how washing day has progressed in my lifetime.Washing is done most days in our house and there is only the two of us now !
    We also lived in a end cottage in Grimshaw Lane , however ours was a two up two down ,so the washing had to be done in the back kitchen as it was called . We had a boiler under the stairs that dad lit early in the morning before he went to work . It had been filled the previous Sunday evening ready for dad to light .The water would be hot enough for mum to boil the whites in first. I also remember the mangle we had .The water would have to be emptied out and used to clean the flags .Mum had to climb some steps to peg out the washing , being the end cottage we had a big garden at the side.Mum did get a electric washer although I cant recall the make.

  2. 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.

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