logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as an older child

The laundrette for the
weekly wash in the mid 1900s

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Why laundrettes were so popular

inside an old laundrette

Inside a 1960s British laundrette, screen shot from an old film.

Although twin tub washing machines had arrived in the 1950s, few ordinary people could afford them - and certainly they were well out of reach for newly married couples such as my husband and me in the early 1960s. The solution was to go the laundrette.

This was the heyday of laundrettes. They sprang up in almost every town.

Like most recently married couples, we went to the local laundrette once a week taking our dirty washing with us. We walked with it, pulling it behind us in a basket on wheels. These baskets were popular, too, because cars were not for the likes of us.

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What happened at a laundrette

On arrival at the laundrette, the assistant weighed our washing. We had to be careful not to be over the allowed weight and be prepared to grovel if our washing included anything already wet which, was always heavy.

Washing machines lined at least one wall. As far as I remember, they were all top loading. They were coin-operated but the washing powder in the laundrettes always seemed to be supplied. This was probably to ensure that the right sort of low-lather powder was used.

While the dirty washing was being washed and rinsed, it was a time for sitting down on the provided seats and watching other people, reading or just musing. It was quite hypnotic watching the washing going round and round.

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The laundrette as a social centre

I can't remember how long a wash took, probably about half an hour. People were said to meet people and make friends in laundrettes.

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Drying the laundry

We had to get up to look to see when our washing machine had stopped. Then we had to decide whether or not to use one of the tumble dryers which were on another wall.

The tumble driers were front loading. There was often a wait for one because there weren't many of them - and anyway they took more coins, and money was short for newly weds. Usually we decided to take the wet washing home to dry with our Flatley. There were no radiators in the sort of flat that we could afford at the time, on the top floor of a suburban semi.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.