The laundry at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, c 1890. The women in the background are operating an old industrial washing machine. Those on the right seem to be ironing curtains.
When Joseph Lister became a surgeon at the Royal during the 1860s, nurses were still responsible for washing the vast piles of dirty clothes, towels, bed linen and other soiled material from the wards. The drive to recruit and retain the service of better-educated and trained nurses in the 1870s and 1880s forced the infirmary's managers to end this practice, and to employ laundry workers such as those pictured. In November 1907 the Board agreed to employ a properly trained laundress to take charge of the laundry.
Reference: RCPSG 28/35
Reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
curtains, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, ironing, laundries, laundry, laundry workers, nurses, voluntary hospitals, washing machines