A tin bath by the fire…

YOURS (UK) - - Contents -

We were lucky enough to have a bath­room and run­ning hot wa­ter, but bath­time was only once a week – usu­ally on Sun­day, ready for school on Mon­day. The part I dreaded was hav­ing my hair washed which meant sting­ing eyes from the sham­poo, rough dry­ing with a towel fol­lowed by the agony of hav­ing all the tan­gles combed out. Ouch! Things were very dif­fer­ent for Bar­bara Smith who was one of six chil­dren: “On Fri­day night the tin bath was put in front of the fire in the liv­ing room and filled with wa­ter from a boiler in the kitchen. We were bathed two at a time with the wa­ter be­ing topped up af­ter each ses­sion. Mum washed us and Dad dried. Af­ter a cup of milk and a slice of bread, Dad gave us a fire­man’s lift up the stairs to bed.”

Ed­wina Jones’ fam­ily had a sim­i­lar rou­tine. “Once my two younger sis­ters had been bathed, dried and put in warmed vests, lib­erty bodices and py­ja­mas, it was my turn. By then the wa­ter had gone cool and I wanted to get out quickly. I caught my foot on the edge of the bath, it tipped over and wa­ter flooded all over the floor. I had a smacked bot­tom for that!” One bar of soap went a long way in Theresa El­lis’s fam­ily: “Eight chil­dren went one af­ter the other into the same wa­ter with the same flan­nel in a freez­ing

Ev­ery is­sue, Yours writer Mar­ion Clarke will be re­liv­ing the best bits of our lives. This fort­night, the time when en­suite bath­rooms were some­thing we could only dream of...

‘Eight chil­dren went in one af­ter the other into the same wa­ter...’

bath­room and no­body ever caught any­thing from any of the oth­ers. The se­cret was the big bar of car­bolic soap that killed ev­ery germ in its wake, then went on to scrub the clothes on Mon­day and the floors on Fri­day be­fore find­ing its way back into the bath on Satur­day!” Hav­ing a bath in front of the fire in the kitchen was the high­light of Satur­day night for Brenda Watt, but there was a down­side: “No bath­room also meant hav­ing an out­side toi­let. Dur­ing the day I hated my trips to the toi­let be­cause of the spi­ders and the dad­dy­long-legs on the walls. At night I went armed with a torch and my faith­ful dog Pip who must have dreaded me wak­ing him up to be my es­cort.” Hav­ing a bath­room was not al­ways bet­ter than a cosy soak in front of the fire, as Sylvia Wash­ing­ton dis­cov­ered: “Even when we had a proper bath in­stalled in our cot­tage, there was no heat­ing. In the win­ter months a paraf­fin stove was lit, but it was barely ad­e­quate. On one oc­ca­sion it burst into flames and a cloud of

thick black smoke filled the room. My dad quickly threw a sack over it and ran out­side to put it out in the snow.” In 1962, Car­o­line Thomp­son’s fam­ily moved to a farm in Aberdeen­shire: “We had no elec­tric­ity, no bath­room and wa­ter was heated by a coal fire and back boiler. Poor Mum! She used to bathe me and my two broth­ers (all un­der five) in the scullery sink. It was a big, deep sink for wash­ing clothes and we’d stand on the drain­ing board while she dried us.”

Af­ter Janet Rus­sell’s mum had done the laun­dry, she used the soapy wa­ter to wash Janet: “I can re­mem­ber as a child be­ing put in the ‘dolly tub’ af­ter Mum had washed the whites. I think she used Acdo wash­ing pow­der. My skin is OK so it couldn’t have done me any harm!”

Sue Payne’s hap­pi­est bath­time mem­ory was on the eve of her wed­ding in 1966. “My fam­ily had just got a long (per­son-sized) tin bath. I boiled ket­tles and saucepans of wa­ter, sprin­kled in laven­der-scented bath cubes, put on a shower cap to pro­tect my newly set hair and in­dulged in a lovely long bath in the warmth of the kitchen heated by the gas stove. Ab­so­lute bliss.”

When Pat Rose got mar­ried in the Six­ties, she and her hus­band rented rooms in an old house: “There was a bath in my tiny kitchen, hid­den un­der a hinged work­top. To have a bath, I had to lift up the work­top and se­cure it against the wall with two large hooks. It was rather sur­real to sit in the bath sur­rounded by my wash­ing ma­chine, cooker and kitchen cab­i­net.”

Pat Warminger also started mar­ried life in a rented flat with no bath­room: “When we got our own home I ran straight up to the lovely new bath­room and climbed fully clothed into the empty bath just to see what it was like!” For folk with no bath­room, a visit to the pub­lic baths was the usual op­tion, as Sylvia El­liott re­calls: “It cost fourpence and you were given a towel and a piece of soap. The at­ten­dant (who looked like an army sergeant) put the wa­ter in from out­side the cu­bi­cle. You only had a few inches so you had to be quick be­fore it went cold. If you took longer than the time al­lowed, the at­ten­dant would bang on the door!”

On his weekly visit to the pub­lic baths, ten-year-old Alan Dury liked to sing. Once, in the mid­dle of his ren­di­tion of Oh Shenan­doah, some­one joined in with ‘Far away, you rolling river’... “Feel­ing em­bar­rassed, I stopped. ‘Carry on!’ called out a voice – so we con­tin­ued in uni­son.” Bet that had the at­ten­dant bang­ing on the cu­bi­cle door! ■ More bath­time tales next is­sue É

‘Poor Mum used to bathe me and my broth­ers in the scullery sink’

Ivy Lewis’s son Ste­wart had fun in his daily bath in front of the fire!

Bar­bara Smith with bath­mates Stan­ley and Harold

Mar­ion as a young girl

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.