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. These photos are great, and thank you for evoking childhood memories in me too. Did your mother insist that washing was hung out in a particular way? Certain things on certain parts of the line, socks with the soles facing the sun to help clean them, pillowcases positioned perfectly to allow the wind to blow them open and speed up the drying? 😀


  2. Liked the old photos. I was spared hanging out washing as a kid (far too small to reach the line anyway) but I do remember all the 1960s kitchen gadgets. I’ve watched all the Back in Time series on TV and there’s definitely a kind of mental alchemy that occurs with nostalgia that you can almost bottle. Memories/things/people that you haven’t thought about for many, many decades are suddenly recalled instantly by a visual object in a house.


  3. When I was just a tad younger, my mother had a washing machine with a hand turned wringer on top. The Wringer had cogs. Some one recently put a picture of one such machine on Facebook and asked if anyone remembered a machine like this,. I said that I did and still had the scar to prove it
    It never occurred to me ( I think I was about 6 ) that it would cause damage to my finger. I actually thought sticking my finger in the cog would cause the machine to stop – a good joke to play on my mum. So that’s what I did.. We wont go into what followed I leave that to your fertile imagination. Did that cure me of being silly? Not really, I tried to electrocute myself – but that’s another story.


  4. Fashionista hanger of washing 🙂 I agree with Jo that us kids did look very different compared to the kids nowadays. Not many if any fashion labels about to give companies free advertising 🙂


  5. No photos of washing days form my childhood, though my memories are very similar to yours. The closest I have to shots of washing on the line are a few “family snaps” my mum took of us all sitting in the garden. She never managed to point the camera in the right place, and shots tended to include the tops of our heads, sometime’s Dad’s whole head, and whatever was on the washing line.


  6. I don’t think our early masheen was red and white, but it had a mangle that folded down (or up) and it ran on gas!
    And you at 2 look very like me at 1 – I ex[ect it’s just the luscious locks.
    Um… is that a real dog in the other picture?


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