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Women on the Farm

curd stirrer

Have cast iron fire surround you used any of these things? Baked bread using a cast iron oven? Boiled a meal in a Hygienic Cooker? Made your own butter or cheese? Tell us how these things were used, or what life was like at the time they were used, or any real-life amusing story you may have to pass on.

Washday 22 June 2011

Just found your site while looking for a quick way to explain to an American friend what a poss tub was.

Anyway we, or rather my gran with whom we lived until 1954, when I was 7, had one. We moved in May that year to a brand-new council house in Billingham and Mam bought an elec. washing m/c (a "Scales Fairy," rather small, with a paddle, and a manual wringer on the top).

Gran continued to live in the tiny (2 up 2 down, no hot water, no bathroom, toilet down the bottom of the yard with pipes that froze in winter) for several more years so presumably she continued to use the poss tub, which was kept in the open-sided wash-house in the yard. The business end of our poss-stick was copper-coloured metal, a large half-sphere with holes in for the water to swish in and out.

The flat irons were heated on the gas stove and we had a big frame for making clip mats - fun for all the family! We made a special one for the coronation (2.6.53) with a crown in the middle - Mam's idea.

The house was privately rented, 7 Lilac Road, Eaglescliffe (also known as Preston-on-Tees), between Stockton-on-Tees (Co. Durham) and Yarm (N. Riding of Yorkshire), 3 doors from the famous railway line. There was a range in the kitchen that had to be black-leaded and the steel bits scoured with emery paper and the front room (which Dad called the parlour, but then he always talked funny because he was from Keighley, which my mother used to say was not really Yorkshire because it was almost in Lancashire) had a small fireplace. I think both bedrooms had fireplaces too but I don't remember them ever being lit.

Both my sister and I were born in the front room.

Tin bath in front of the fire once a week - the good old days!!!

Patricia, Arrathorne, Bedale

Washday 12 November 2007

I originate from the North East and I remember the washing machine that my dad bought from the co-op for my mum, circa 1927.

The machine had a slatted drum with one section opened by butterfly screws. It had 2 wheels at the non mangle end and the mangle was hinged; the drum turning handle was secured to the wheel by a screw and nut so it could be swung out of the way. At each end was a shelf and we used to have our boot cleaning materials on it. My mum used to shred soap (green bar) into the water and agitate it by turning the handle with no clothes in the drum.

I was born in 1925 and so I cannot be precise on the year of purchase. This was in use until some time after the 1939/45 war at a guess it was about 1952. How it was disposed of is a mystery to me.

There are many memories of my time prior to the war such as seeing women ‘double possing’ and hanging the clothes on lines strung across the back street and whoa betide any one who tried to bring a vehicle up the street when the clothes were on the line.

Shirts had separate collars and also bones to stiffen the points and there were front and back studs to fix the collars to the shirt (I still have mine)

Yours sincerely

Ron Thoburn

Washday 03 September 2007

On your Dolly Blue page it sounds as if you might want to suggest some English suppliers of laundry blue. Reckitt's are still making it as squares of Crown Blue, manufactured outside the UK I think, but it's available at an English website: -- The squares are also sold on ebay for making "magic" blue water. Reckitt's still make Robin Blue (powder and liquid) in India, and I believe this is available at some UK grocers who stock other items imported from south Asia. (I found this out while working on my own newish website.)

Best wishes - Lel -- ================================================ history of housekeeping & domestic paraphernalia

Washday 06 December 2006

I remember washday and the house running with condensation. Grandma Thompson or my Mam sweating with the Dollystick and clothes in the tub. We always used a Dollystick, a stout shaft with the business end like a small milking stool. In Yorkshire my in-laws used a Posser. A shaft with a copper cullender on the end. With this you plunged the thing in and out; the dollystick you twisted back and forth. Both relied on the vigerous agitation of the water, and the strength of the woman on the other end! Most husbands left home on washday. Not men's work! And they walked softly when they returned. Getting the hot water was also hard work, the Range tended to be loop warm.

Jim Kitto

Washday: 08 January 2006

My mum used a dollytub in the fifties and had a brass posser, she had 9 members of family to wash for, and always boiled her whites before washing them, she was on the go all day Monday, in between cooking and baking for her large family.

Luxury for her was when she got a mangle, it helped to get rid of a lot of the water before drying.

I must say also, that we always had clean clothes and bedding, but looking back it must have been a very hard life. When she had a minute to spare she never relaxed, she would bake a pile of cakes and scones for us hungry children.

Ruth Burns

Re: Mystery object 1. 29 April 2003

I think the wooden box with turntable (Countryside, What IS that?) might be part of a shoeshine kit (I think I've seen similar on my travels in Peru). The shoeshine sits on the swivelling chair facing their client who rests his shoe on the cutout - the box, which is then between the shoeshine and his client, can hold various polishes, rags and brushes and is easily accessible while the shoeshine carries out the task in hand.

Brian Wilkinson, Scotland

Dolly Tubs! Used to be like marriage, one in every home! 29 April 2002

Hello I was interested in your museum page. I was doing a search for Dolly Blue as I often play in Jazzbands at The old Dolly Blue Works at Backbarrow which you will now know as the Whitewater Hotel. They had in the Downstairs Bar (was the Blueroom bar) now the Fisherman's Bar a display of dolly blue and some mining explosives. Many visitors who come to listen to the music ask about dolly blue. I can remember my Mother and Grandma and neighbours using this for whitening. We also had a dolly tub and posser. and I vivid remember when our old tin bath had rusted through and my dad bathed all four of us one after another in the dolly tub. The posser had a circular disc at the business end with holes in it. I remember tilting, Knight in armour style at washing on the line in our backyard. I am looking for the manufacturing process for dolly blue and the materials that were used. I also remember that a dunk (dip) of dolly blue in white wash gave a brilliant whiteness to walls. Cellars and outside toilets were proudly kept in pristine condition.

Washday: 02 April 2002

I remember using a small mangle as a small child, as late as the 70's. We had a top-loading washing machine in the back porch that we filled with a hosepipe. Then carried the wet washing in a bucket to the mangle outside. The weeks washing was done on a Saturday (mum worked) come hail or shine. We wore wellies as it was wet work stood at the mangle. On wet days the clothes were hung on lines in the shed and out-house (the loo). We tried not GO while it was still dripping! The house was modernized in the early 80's, life was never quite the same again. I miss team work of wash day, a tin bath in front of a roaring coal fire, baking day, milk stood in pans of water in the porch, but I don't miss the potty under the bed (replaced by an inside bathroom when I was 15).


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