Tag Archives: laundromat

I am a Laundry Girl



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Dear Ellen,

As I have written you before I have found work in a local laundry here in Perth. Please don’t have visions of  sunlight and happiness as it’s actually located in a cramped kitchen. I was told yesterday to feel lucky as they used to have to work in a dark tenement courtyard next door.

I wash clothes all day long in dolly tubs with a dolly stick. There are also tall tubs in which large items are stirred and beaten with dollies or a plunger on a long handle. The water is heated in a large metal boiler on a stove with extra pots boiling over an outdoor fire. It provides ample washing water for the tubs and  we are watched carefully as our soap has to be used very economically.

We have to carefully mix it into the hot water for the main wash, but everyday linen is still cleaned with an ash lye. We make our own soap, which is a week-long operation involving making lye, rendering tallow, and combining them to make the soap.  We use plenty of ashes and fat,  and when it turns warm and dry we use salt to set the soap. The soap is then cured for at least three months, so we use it sparingly. Lots of soft water is needed for the washing, so  we also collect rainwater to use for the washing if at all possible.

Our laundry takes in both both domestic laundry and linen from the local hotels. We also offer a “wet wash” which is tackling bags of dirty linen and clothes for a small payment and returning them still damp.Most of the ironing is then done by the customers at home. The lady in charge tries to keep our prices down as there are quite a few mangle woman. With a box mangle they charge pennies for pressing household linen and everyday clothing.

Last year a government study by the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor found that some wet washes were “unsanitary”.  Because the laundry was sometimes washed in nets, bundle by bundle, this prevented “the proper application of disinfectants, soap, water, and heat”. Keeping the laundry damp in bags for a long time added to hygiene problems they said.

A preparation for a particular load of washing begins a few days beforehand as there is mending to do beforehand and the best part of any day is when the clothes are on the line–  unless the line or the pegs are dirty, when the clothes may need washing again.

The ironic part of all this dear Ellen is that most families have cleaner clothes than I do as I literally don’t have enough time to wash every week.

Yours in great friendship




Kids these days expect an app (or mom) to do everything for them. Victorian people were hardcore.

Related reading:

Musings about Vibrating Appliances and Other Dirty Laundry

Tales From the Chinese Laundry on Bridge Street

Tales of the Queen’s Underwear and all those “Accidents”

As the World Turns in Carleton Place — Soap and Ground Beef

I will Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap!

What the Heck was Electric Soap? Chatterton House Hotel Registrar


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News


Before and After in Carleton Place–Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Posting



This week on March 20th  the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum posted the following on their Facebook page:

A new find! A photo of William Jenkins’ Bakery on High Street in 1908. That’s William. And that’s his “neatly fitted up store”. The red brick building exists today as a laundromat, but the white frame building is gone. See the giant painting of a loaf of bread on the side?

And IS THAT AN ELEPHANT on the front facade? Very cool.
The following description was published in the Review of Prosperous Towns in the Counties of Lanark and Grenville, 1908:

“Among the well-known manufacturers of all kinds of bread, cakes, pastry and confectionery in Carleton Place we find as a leading one the establishment of William Jenkins which was established 19 years ago. Mr. Jenkins enjoys an enviable reputation as a business man and citizen and it is not to be wondered at that he has an almost exclusive share of the high class trade of the town. The premises occupied on High Street, phone 87, are embraced in a neatly fitted up store. The bakery is equipped with the most modern machinery. The utmost cleanliness is observed in the manufacture of goods. Every convenience is at hand for the successful prosecution of the business and employment is afforded to 2 bakers. Everything in the line of high class bakery goods, choice confectionery is dispensed.

A special feature is made of wedding cakes. Weddings, parties, balls and receptions, afternoon teas, are fully supplied with the greatest care and attention and upon the shortest notice possible at moderate prices. Courteous assistants are in attendance at the store. Two delivery wagons are in use and the delivery of goods is attended to with scrupulous regularity and promptness. Mr. Jenkins is also a dealer in flour, salt and fresh groceries. A specialty is made of green and black teas. Personally he is a gentleman of the highest standing and has well earned his reputation for reliability and honorable dealing.”

Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum's photo.

Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage MuseumMr. Campbell did have a store in the Jenkins building at one time as well. Here is a story about Mr Campbell too.