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Saturday, 15 August 2009

Wash day

Continuing with the washing theme (!) I spotted this little grouping of objects in the Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall. It shows a huge mangle, used for wringing the water out of clothes, along with a dollytub (and a posser - the stick-thingy inside used for stirring up the washing) and a washboard, used for rubbing the clothes on to get them clean. There's a wonderful website about the history of washing at this link.

Monday was traditionally wash-day - and it did take all day. Why Monday? Theories abound, but it was perhaps because the cold left-overs from Sunday's roast dinner meant the day could be free of cooking. Or maybe because the family usually had only one change of clothes and the clean ones were put on on Sunday. Certainly the whole cycle of washing, drying and ironing was a huge task, consuming a large part of the week, and many women hated it.

The mangle evokes memories of my own childhood, helping my great aunt to put washing through her wringer. I was fascinated to see the clothes coming out squashed hard and flat! Interestingly, I have discovered that Keighley, just up the Aire valley from here, was one of the major centres of mangle manufacturing. (You really wanted to know that, didn't you?)

PS: I've done a bit of a Photoshop paint effect on the photo; I thought the photo was reminiscent of a painting.

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