For 90 years there were washhouses in Edinburgh, and for nearly 80 of those years the washhouses were a public service. Despite a mass campaign, the last one closed in 1982.

The modern equivalent would be the launderette but even those can be difficult to find these days in my part of the world. I discovered this fascinating piece of Scottish history in ‘The People’s Story’ museum on Canongate in Edinburgh. I thought it rather appropriate to share these today, after all Mondays were once wash-day!

PS Two squares kinda counter the rectangle!

155 thoughts

  1. Many women must have mourned the loss of the washhouse because I imagine it was a great socialising event in addition to getting the laundry done.
    I remember my mum having a washing machine with a ‘wringer’ on the top at the back, and I remember my gran washing the clothes in the sink with a washboard and bar of soap then helping her use the mangle. I’m not sure it was always on a Monday because she used a communal drying green so they probably had a specific day of the week that they had to use.

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    1. I’m always proud of myself when I find myself doing washing on a Monday, feel right somehow. Have yet to manage the ironing on a Wednesday though!!

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      1. My mother got her arm caught in the mangle. I arrived home from school to find her in enormous pain and an extremely swollen arm. Dangerous things…

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      1. So were cloth nappies, even though they were soaked. Fortunately someone bought me 6 months nappy service for the firstborn. But the sheets had to be washed in the bath.

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    1. I guess I could have made it square but the gallery looked better this way!! Off now to check out your cuboid πŸ˜€

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    1. lol! Me too, only had 3 years using a laundrette (or bath some months when pennies were tight) and so I am in awe of those who used wash houses and laundrettes

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      1. When I first left home, the β€˜shared’ laundry had and old wringer. Washing was an arduous all day task.

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      2. Love how words vary. The one that got me as a southern student going to a northern university was the dryer.

        I knew it is as clothes horse but a friend called it a maiden, and another just knew it as a drying rack. Got very confusing!

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  2. Interesting and a good reminder of the changes that have taken place the last century. I did a small search and could find only one in Sweden that is truly a laundrette. It seems that it is a thing of the past here as well.

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      1. I remember teaching my much much older brother how to hang washing on a washing line. He’d never helped Nana nor Mum!

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      2. Just puts the pegs in odd places. I know there isn’t a rule, and I suspect we all do it the same as our mothers. But I always hang shirts / t-shirts from the hem.

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