We hadn’t got the amenities in 23 Handel Street. Me mum used to pack the washing up, and go to the washhouse twice a week while I did the cleaning. She’d always bring it back dry and ironed. She used to have a line going across the kitchen and she’d put it on there. Towels on one side, underpants on the other, knickers on the next, and the kids’ clothes used to be on a rack. We’d got no washing tubs then. There weren’t no such thing as washing machines. I lived for twenty years in Cardiff Street, just off Carlton Road, and used to go to wash house twice a week. Me mum used to look after me baby for me, and bring him to the washhouse for me to breast feed him.
In the 1940s and ’50s, ladies used to go down the washhouse and wash all their clothes because they had no hot water at home. You’d see all the women on a Friday going down with their prams full of washing. That was community – all the ladies having a chit chat about what was going off and what slander there was about.
Mary Kate Brinklow
In the seventies I used to bring my laundry all the way to the washhouse in Sneinton from where I lived in Mapperley Park. It was a long way to go, but my neighbour had a car and she used to come with me. There were no washing machines – you did it yourself in a big tub. There were these copper ponches and you’d give your whites a good ponching. Do you know to this day, I don’t own a washing machine? I still prefer to wash by hand. You’d dry your clothes on big racks with bars and you’d get your sheets all lovely and pressed in the rollers. When you came out of there it was almost like you’d been to a laundry, not a washhouse. I’d never dry my washing back at home – I was renting the middle floor of a big house converted into three flats and the lady on the ground floor always used to capture the back yard for herself because her door led out onto the garden – it got quite territorial!