The continuing story of one house in Chorlton during the last hundred years.
Washing the family clothes was a tedious job and it may well be that Mary Ann paid to have the washing done.
Across the city there were 281 laundries some of which had more than one branch. Here in the township there were five, with another on Upper Chorlton Road, and another on Range Road as well as more in nearby Stretford, and Withington.
Of the five Chorlton ones, Mary was spoilt for choice, with Mrs Martha Keel on Beech Road, Miss Mary Jones at Ivy Cottage on Barlow Moor Road and the large Pasley Laundry on Crescent Road, now renamed Crossland Road. She may even have used Wing Sam & Co at Hastings Buildings on Manchester Road which was next to where they had lived in the spring of 1911.
Laundries are a measure not only of the size of a community but of their prosperity. Given the arduous nature of wash day it is not surprising that those who could afford to pay for the weekly washing to be cleaned did so. The population had doubled in the ten years before 1901 and the next decade saw an equal increase. The occupations of the residents of new Chorlton ranged from manufacturers, bank managers and solicitors to clerical and skilled workers. The very mix which is reflected in the large detached and semi detached houses stretching along Edge Lane and High Lane and the tall terraced properties radiating out from the station.
Here were the customers of our five laundries which in themselves were a mix. Yapp’s Laundry was big enough to have branches on Ashton Old Road, Chorlton on Medlock and in Whitefield and Stretford. Others like Wing Sam operated from one shop while Martha Keal’s premises on Beech Road was also the home of a her builder husband John. The biggest was the Pasley, later renamed the Queen and Pasley on Crescent Road. It opened in 1893, and at one point employed 50 staff.
All the washing machines were belt driven by a huge steam engine and were the first to install the “float-iron system” which consisted of the multiple roller pressing machine. This was 15 feet wide and 15 feet long and
“was a mass production ironing machine, with delicately poised rollers. You could put a shirt with pearl buttons on it and it wouldn’t leave a mark.”
Vans from the laundry would collect the washing and deliver it to the sorting office where each item would be marked, and classified into bins, before the loads were emptied into the ten washing machines. After being washed the clothes went through stages of being dried before being set out still slightly damp for the ironing and pressing and finally being resorted in the packing room and returned in the vans to the customers.
Whether Mary washed at home or used a laundry there would still have been much to do. It was after all a time before most families had a hover and sweeping dusting and general household cleaning was done the old way.
Picture; The Grange Laundry,Beech Road, Chorlton, c.1918
The Grange Laundry was opposite the smithy on Beech Road, Chorlton. c.1918.DPA/328/20 Courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office