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Tuesday, 21 July 2009


This is what I think of ironing!
The poor sow doesn't deserve this but the similar view of the boar in the next sty would have been too extreme.

A visit to Beamish Open Air Museum yesterday reminded me of how lucky we are today. Ironing is pretty boring but the rest of the laundry is not really so bad. Washing machines are magic and now I've got the hang of sorting the coloureds from the whites and removing tissues from pockets, the only real chore is hanging it up to dry somewhere.

When I was very young, my grandmother lived in Albion Terrace in the colliery of Murton in Durham, in a cottage a bit like the one here. My Grandad and uncles were coal miners and she had to wash all their clothes by hand in a sink like this, with water fetched in jugs from the pump down the road.

She boiled the water in a copper heated over a coal fire in the scullery and agitated the clothes in a dolly tub, then rinsed them all by hand. They were then wrung through the mangle and hung out to dry in the kitchen, over the range or ,on a fine day, in the yard.

The irons were heated on the range and the clothes were ironed on a folded blanket on the kitchen table. JUST LIKE THIS. All these lovely pictures are from the rebuilt colliery village at the museum. It started me wondering if going down the coal-mines would have been a better way of spending the day so we set off for a visit. See next post.
The whole day out was a delight and the weather held out and allowed us to enjoy our picnic in the farmyard. There is so much to see and do that we were glad that we got a year's entry for the same price as a day's visit through some sort of tax-gift scheme. We are only 40 minutes away and shall return to complete our exploration of the site and sights. Beamish has been an enormously successful co-operation and collaboration. If you visit the north east of England be sure to consider it.
Cheers Gillian


carol said...

Lovely pics!

I remember the laundry in my great g'ma's house with the huge copper and a giant mangle - a vicious looking affair. Thw copper was also used to steam the Christmas pud.

Do you remember washboards? The kingpin of every skiffle group.

In this part of the world the women of my g-g'ma's era went to the communal washing places and in towns, if they were lucky, there were the 'steamies' - the forerunner of the launderette!

It did take me till the birth of my first child, at which time we were living in an apartment, to get a washing machine. I served my time (10 years) scrubbing sheets and shirts by hand.

Heide said...

Laundry is my least favorite of household chores. I can't even imagine trying to tackle it without the modern conveniences we have today. No wonder women wore aprons!

chillsider said...

G'ma had the steaming cauldron too, with the little Bluey bag thing for the whites. Eventually grandpop mended someones discarded spin dryer for her. It was a manic little machine that vibrated across the kitchen floor threatening to explode at any moment.
When we ?bought our first house I turned down an automatic machine, as I assumed we couldn't afford the extra for the plumbing adjustments and thus spent 5 years scarlet faced over a twintub.