Twin Tub Tongs.

Life has changed so much for women over the past fifty years and I sometimes sit and think of the differences in the lifestyles of young women today compared to the lives we in our sixties, seventies and eighties lived all those years ago. There are so many things which we take for granted now, but the younger women of today have no idea of just how hard it was for their mothers and grannies. Technology has improved our lives way beyond anything we could ever have imagined, not even in our wildest dreams; and thinking just what were the most important labour saving improvements in our lives, I offer you the following two items for your consideration.

A washing machine for me was just a dream and all the clothes were washed in the sink with water heated on the gas cooker and scrubbed clean on a scrubbing board for several years before my mother bought me a “twin tub”. Oh the joy of that machine but that elation only lasted several years for as my family grew I spent more and more time standing beside it transferring clothes from the washing section to the rinsing and spinning section. Still, this was so much easier than standing in a “wash house” with a scrubbing board and a big mangle as my mother had done.
With the death of a relative I acquired an automatic washing machine and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My friend Betty Walker came down to see it in action and we sat in front of it knitting and watching the machine for the whole cycle. It was so loud and unstable it almost shook the cups off the table but we were blind to this as we sat and stared at it with adoration while it washed the clothes. On hindsight we were like something out of Mrs Brown’s Boys. We could not believe what we were seeing. All I could say was “my granny would not believe this” and neither could we. With the introduction of the “automatic” women’s lives changed beyond recognition because we no longer had to spend hours washing clothes. To this day I still have my mother’s scrubbing board which she brought with her from Aberdeen when she moved to Hamilton 76 years ago. She used it for almost twenty years before she got a washing machine. Her first washing machine was an Acme and it was huge with a large wringer on top.



Today almost every home has central heating and long gone are the freezing winter’s mornings when it was so cold when you got out of bed you could see the huff of your breath and the windows of the house were frozen so you couldn’t see outside. Not only the inhabitants of the house and the windows were frozen. I remember making my four year old son’s bed one morning and finding out that part of the duvet was frozen to the wallpaper which ripped off the wall when I pulled it.

Memories of getting up at five o’clock on a cold winter’s morning are still vivid in my mind, for waiting was a coal fire needing to be cleaned out and set up with newspaper, sticks and coal ready to light. Holding your breath and crossing your fingers you would whisper a prayer when lighting the paper in the hope that it that it would catch first time. If it looked as if your efforts were in vain, the paper and sticks would be lifted up with up the poker and you would blow into the embryonic fire praying that it would burst into flames. A last resort would be the shovel placed in front of the fire and a newspaper held across it, the damper would be pulled out creating a draught which usually done the trick. The paper however could catch fire and vanish up the chimney in an instant and your heart nearly jumped out of your mouth in case it set it on fire. A chimney fire was quite a spectacular sight to see Pouring out of the top of the chimney was thick sulphurous black smoke and flames which could be seen for miles. To prevent the building going on fire you needed the fire brigade and so eventually you were summoned to court and fined.

So I say, God bless the men who developed the washing machine and central heating. They made the lives of countless women so much easier and I am one of them. …………Wilma Bolton.

Wilma, as always thank you for sharing your memoires!!!