Scottish Memory Lane - Washing Day

Communal Wash House, Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life

In the days before automatic washing machines and spin dryers, all clothing had to be cleaned by hand. Some larger houses would have a dedicated room for doing this but often the washing was taken to a communal wash house, In larger cities this would be a large building, busy from morning to night with housewives bringing their washing to the "Steamie" not just to clean clothes but to gossip and chat with other women who lived in the area. In smaller groups of houses there would be a communal wash house with nearby residents given a designated day to turn up.

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Recently added stories have placed beside their title.

Going to the "Steamie"

We lived in the city of Edinburgh, and my mother had to travel to the wash house, her laundry on a little wheeled cart....It was correct I think, that the women went for a wee bleather, as it was during the war, and it must have been good to talk.....the wash was always spotless, then it went out in the back green to dry....We were not allowed to play in the back green if any washing was on the lines......

Irene in BC, Canada

Wash Day in Dysart, Fife

We lived in a wee village Dysart in Fife. My childhood was a happy one, us Bairns played on the street. Playing pauldies (the Fife name for Hop-Scotch or peever - see Childhood Games and Toys section) hide 'n' go seek, wheelies with the boys, skipping, booles (also known as marbles). We had an outside toilet shared with the next door neighbours - it was spotless. The picture of Dysart is by "kilnburn" via Wikimedia Commons.

At the bottom of the garden was the wash house, my Mum's day was Tuesday, my Dad would get the fire going to heat the boiler filled with cauld water, it would be boiling water by the time we were off to school. The washing got started boiling first the whites, then putting them in the sink wringing them out, rinsing and repeating this a number of times, making sure they we free from the soap. See also the graphic of a wash house at the top of this page. The close-up graphic of a wringer on the left is via Wikimedia Commons.

Oh! Did I say they had to be as white as the driven snow, itherwise the neighbours would talk! Then everything was hung oot on the line tae dry. (Graphic of the washing line is by "ceridwen" via Wikimedia Commons) At nicht us Bairns got tae ha'e a hot bath on the wash hoose - we could splash till our hearts content with the left over water.

These were a few of my happy memories. I have lived in Canada for 40 years now, but my heart is still in Bonnie Scotland.

Sent from my iPad by Irene, now in Canada.

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Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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