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Guarlford History Group

The Guarlford Story

Women at Work in the Home

Women worked hard in the home. Often families were large and the household budget had to feed, clothe and provide shoes for up to eight or ten children in some cases . . .


Washday generally a Monday, was hard work. Water came from a well usually by means of an iron pump, and in some places, where there were several cottages together, one pump served them all. Most cottages had a boiler, or 'copper', in the back premises, usually a lean to, where a fire was lit under the boiler early on washing day ready to boil the whites, bedlinen etc. first; then the load would be taken out with a 'laundry stick' and plunged into a zinc tub of cold water; next into one with a squeeze of the blue bag ('Reckitt's Blue') in it. The rest of the week's wash followed in turn, finishing with most soiled items, overalls and such. Table linen and aprons were always starched. If it happened not to be a good drying day, the washing was spread on wooden clothes horses or hung from racks in the ceiling to dry by the stoked up range. Damp washing days were miserable for the family, who came in at the end of the day to a kitchen full of wet clothes. But somehow it was all accepted as a matter of course, and most washing days were remembered as bright and breezy, with the washing all blowing on the lines outside. Ironing was done using solid metal flat irons, heated on the range . . .