Monday Washing Lines

West End Washing Line

Unlike many participants in Andrew’s Monday Washing Lines theme, I don’t have a stash of pictures of artfully draped laundry on balconies in exotic locations. However, I spotted this line in an unusually visible back garden on one of my recent Glasgow West End wanders. This also prompted some childhood memories of wash day.

On the left, above, I am standing in the kitchen of my first home, aged about 2½ years. The washer behind me was, as I remember, red and white, and lifting off the lid revealed a mangle folded beneath. I was unable to say the word machine and referred to it as the sheen. My mother said to me one day: Anabel, don’t say sheen, say MAchine. I looked at her very seriously and replied: But Mummy, it’s not MA sheen. It’s YOUR sheen! Mum sent this anecdote to a women’s magazine which published it on its readers’ letters page – we still have the magazine to prove it!

Perched on my shoulder is a budgie named, in retrospect unfortunately, Boris. A few years later, he provided my first encounter with death. I’m not sure how the concept was explained to me, but I still remember being completely puzzled as to why he was put in a flower bed.

Fast forward a few more years, and two houses, and I am now about 7 or 8. I find it odd that I am posing in my bathing suit and my sister is wearing a cardigan, given that I was usually the child shivering in her coat on the beach as everyone else cavorted around half naked. However, posed or not, here is visible proof that I have pegged out a washing at least once in my life. I’m not sure if we still had the same washing machine, or had moved on to a twin tub by then. I remember that, then a huge, heavy top-loader, and a spin-drier that danced across the floor if you didn’t load it right. Thank goodness for modern conveniences: I’m leaving you right now to unload my automatic washer!


  1. Anabel, so interesting to read your memories of doing the wash in your early years. In my early childhood, my Mom used a wringer washer, which had to be rolled into the middle of the kitchen and the hose attached to the faucet. We were not allowed to go near it because Mom was worried we get our hands caught in the wringers. She pinned the wet clothes out on the clothes line, and in minus 30 or minus 40 temperatures, the frozen clothes would be brought indoors and stacked like boards to thaw. I don’t know how she did it, especially in the years of diapers.



  2. Hi Anabel – I remember it well hanging out washing many times in my life – but I have no photos to prove it! Love those early photos of you … and your Boris …
    I wrote about the finials that have been rescued from the washing lines built into Basil Jellicoe’s St Pancras and Humanist Housing development in the late 1800s – the finials are on display in the foyer basement of the British Library. Jellicoe is a well known housing reformer, who died very young. No clothes though …


  3. You might not have photos of washing lines in exotic locations, but you do have some incredible memories and photos of the past! And that’s more entertaining (to me) than colorful clothes lines in the Med. 🙂 Love that anecdote from when you were a child as well. I was scratching my head as to how you could possibly remember all this. The proof in the magazine might have something to do with that!