A Woman’s Work

The standard washing implements of the time.

From the day they left school until the day they were married, most women worked in a factory or maybe a shop. The couple then rented a house, or quite often just a part of the house, and the wife would stay at home to look after it. She usually had a weekly routine beginning with washing day every Monday. A fire would be lit under the boiler to heat water and the clothes would be pummelled in a washing tub with a dolly.
Afterwards most of the water was removed with a mangle and the clothes were hung out to dry on a washing line in the back yard. Collars would be starched and everything ironed with a sad iron, heated by the fire, on the range in the kitchen. The whole process was extremely labour intensive and very hard work. Many housewives even took-in washing for other people as a way of supplementing their family’s meagre income.

There would be frequent visits to the shops in this pre-refrigerator age. A lot of items could be purchased from the local shops, often set-up in people’s front rooms. Visits would also be necessary to the shops in the thriving town centre, in King Street, High Street, Church Street, or Pinfold Street.

Some of the familiar shops would have been:

King Street    
Appleyard  milliner Empire Tailoring Payne  hairdresser and tobacconist
Aston  boots and shoes Kingston  butcher Powell  tailor and clothier
Baker  boots and shoes, and ironmonger Lewis  confectioner Price  confectioner
Bayley  butcher Martyn  grocer Simpson  ironmonger
Bennett  tailor and clothier George Mason  grocer Stanbury  tailor and draper
Billingsley  tobacconist Maypole Dairy Stevenson  draper
Blackham  grocer Morton  confectioner and baker Webb  undertaker
Cartwright  fruiterer Nash  draper Withers  chemist
Edwards  watchmaker Neale  tea  
High Street    
Beasley  grocer Hakesley  grocer Phillips  hairdresser
Brown  grocer Harper  grocer Ray  hairdresser
Dudley  fish and chips Jowett  draper and tailor Tonks  fruiterer
Freeth  tailor and clothier Lowe  butcher Welch  milliner
Grainger  fishmonger Miss Martin  dressmaker  
Church Street    
Arthur Ash  butcher Hickton  grocer Robinson  butcher
Baggott  grocer Horne  grocer Salisbury  confectioner
Butler  grocer Jackson  boots and shoes Snape  tobacconist
Foster  grocer Needhams Limited  chemist White  fish and chips
Gender  boots and shoes Price  grocer & confectioner Williams and Hodgett  draper
Groves  fruiterers Read  butcher  
Pinfold Street    
John Aston  photographer Mrs. Grove  fruiterer Mason  newsagent
Ball  tobacconist Hobson  ironmonger Morris  hairdresser
Clay  grocer Horton  boots and shoes Orton  butcher
Cotterell  tobacconist Howell  boots and shoes Porter  fish and chips
Davies  fishmonger Ingram and Eccleston  tailor Rose  confectioner and mineral waters
Davis  grocer Jones  corn and seed merchant Smith  tailor and clothier
Fletcher  fruiterer Mrs. Lees  draper  
The Green    
Beech  confectioner Haden  boots and shoes Stackhouse  fruiterer
Costin  hairdresser Harper  confectioner Tomlinson  newsagent and tobacconist
Cotterell  grocer Jones  grocer  
Croft  fruiterer Owen  grocer  
Ferry  grocer Ratcliffe  draper  
Fletcher  grocer Robinson  tobacconist  
Griffiths  fruiterer Small  fruiterer and grocer  
Catherine’s Cross    
Baggott  grocer Hampton  fruiterer Page  draper
Causer  grocer Hampton  coal merchant Smith  boots and shoes
Cope  butcher Kendrick  grocer  
Firm  grocer Owen  grocer  
Some of the small local grocery and general shops included:
Cross Supply Stores  in Catherine’s Cross
Darlaston and District steam laundry  in Factory Street
Miss Jordon’s  in Heathfield Lane
Jones’s  in Moxley Road
Nightingale’s  in Factory Street
Rolinson’s  in Moxley Road
Wilkes’s  in Foundry Street
Winspers  in Heathfield Lane

A few of the shops remained until the 1970s when they disappeared during the redevelopment of the town centre.

Many items were delivered door to door by horse and cart, or bicycle; including bread, coal, fruit and vegetables, lamp oil, meat, and milk. Some people grew their own vegetables, which were far cheaper than those from a shop. A lot of families didn’t have a garden, just a bare earth yard, but there were many local allotments to rent very cheaply.

Housework was labour intensive. Coal fires had to be made, grates were cleaned and black leaded, oil lamps were filled and maintained, floors were scrubbed, and carpets were beaten to remove the dust and dirt, or even washed occasionally in the tin bath. Vacuum cleaners were unheard of and so everywhere had to be swept clean. Sometimes dry sand would be sprinkled on the quarry tile floors. As most houses were without an internal water supply, any water used for cleaning would be carried into the house in a steel bucket or bowl that was filled from the tap in the brewhouse.

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