Servile 60s

Duration: 2:35 minutes
Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.378
This story has been viewed 20160 times

Andrea tells us about her memories of doing laundry in the 1960s.

By Andrea Parker

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Video transcript

In the 60s I was a married mum aged 20 with two babies only 14 months apart. We lived with my parents in local authority rented accommodation. I came from a working class, large family; the youngest of seven children, five sisters and one brother. In the 60s, my parents, like most, brought the females up to be housewives and mothers and males to be the breadwinners.

I remember particularly Monday, washing day, it took the whole day. The washer was pulled out into the middle of the kitchen floor along with the gas boiler. The large bench was cleared to make way for the scrubbing of the clothes, especially shirt collars. The terry towelling nappies, white clothes, towels and bed clothes needed boiling. The coal fire would be roaring to heat the water. The washer was electric but had to be filled with hot water by buckets from the hot tap. If you were lucky you had a hose pipe. The mangle needed to be turned by hand. You definitely needed two Weetabix for breakfast on washing days! The procedure was wash, mangle, scrub using a block of hard soap and a large scrubbing brush. Rinse, mangle, boil, mangle, rise, mangle, blue, mangle. If the weather was fine, the clothes were hung out on the line. If not, hung on lines in the kitchen and living room and around the fire on a clothes horse. My mother reminded me if I complained about washing days that in her day she had to use a poss tub and also starch most of the clothes and ironed a lot more.

Then in the 60s, I couldn’t have imaged what washing days would be like for me now in 2010. What with all the labour saving devices such as automatic washers, tumble dryers, biological washing powder, central heating, disposable nappies etc. I definitely can’t imagine what it will be like in another 50 years time. In the 60s very few young mums went out to work. It took all their time just doing housework, cooking and looking after children. The men were truly the breadwinners.

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