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Washing pens

Burrell Collection Photo Library

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Washing pens

Partick steamie, photographed in the 1950s by Alf Daniel. The Partick Public Baths and Wash-house opened in 1914, with fifty-six washing stalls. The wash-house operated as a traditional steamie until the 1960s, when it was modernised to become a launderette with electric washing machines. It was closed in 1996.

Women went to the steamie once a week. The week's dirty laundry was wrapped up in a sheet and carried in a basket, a tin bath or an old pram. The washing was done by hand and was extremely hard work, but many women enjoyed the occasion as it gave them a chance to see their friends and catch up with the local gossip.

The popularity of steamies declined as more people acquired washing machines in their homes and as launderettes opened across the city. Launderettes provided more efficient electric washing machines and driers that took much of the drudgery out of the weekly wash, but many women continued to hanker for the sociability of the old wash-houses. Since its demise, the Glasgow steamie has become the subject of numerous books and articles aimed at the nostalgia market, as well as a very successful stage play.

Reference: 1040.88.125

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums

babies, gossip, laundries, laundry, Partick Public Baths and Wash-house, prams, steamies, wash-houses, washing, women

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