Saturday, 13 September 2014

Bath Time - Sepia Saturday

This week's prompt made me think of the ways things used to be.


The house where I was born was made of stone but lacked certain facilities.

My boyhood home - High Street, Ketton, Rutland
Beyond the back of the house to the back of the drive were the outhouses with big double doors used as garages for the cars of the next door landlord’s spinster daughters. – 
Between the garages and the house were two smaller outhouses - one for Dad’s tools and where the dog had its kennel, and one for coal, the fuel that provided heating and hot water in the house. Behind the coal house was the only toilet. No plumbing or drainage; it was equipped with a big wooden seat, and beneath the hole, an open bucket emptied once a week. 
Behind that unmentionable place, down one step to a stone flag floor was the wash house, in which Dad kept his bike and with a bench against one wall at which to work. However in pride of place was the large coal-fired copper in which the weekly washing was boiled up and which provided, at the end of a week, a large tin bath full of water for a proper wash. 

Tin bath like ours
Not round and small like that on the outside wall of the prompt.


If it was exceptionally cold, as a luxury, I was sometimes allowed to fill the bath in front of the hot black-leaded range in the kitchen. I've no photos to show you other that these of baths in use.

Little boy taking a bath in a tub
(By Simple insomnia - CC BY 2.0)
Miner getting washed at home.
In "The Road from Wigan Pier," George Orwell wrote about miners and the use of pithead baths: -

"It is almost impossible for them to wash all over in their home homes. Every drop of water  has got to be heated up, and in a tiny living room which contains, apart from a kitchen range, a quantity of furniture, a wife, some children and probably a dog, there is simply not room to have a proper bath.Even with a basin one is bound to splash the furniture."

At the time some people believed that miners would not use the pithead baths and some even said that there was no point in given baths to miners as they would only keep coal in them!

However round wash tubs like these have been put to many uses.

Wash Tub (Malalla Museum)
(CC BY-NC 2.0)
It's not only children that get a bath in them.

Molly gets a bath
(By Guny - CC BY 2.0)
I'm not sure who Molly is but apparently the dog is called Cosmo - he/she had  run around in the woods and got muddy.

But a much more relaxed dog appeared on a Facebook page this week. My daughter's Golden Retriever would never have submitted to this indignity.


Now I'm off to relax - not in a bath, but under under a shower.
Suggest you take a look at what our prompt has inspired other Sepians to post at Sepia-Saturday-245.

14 comments:

Wendy said...

No wonder people didn't bathe frequently -- that was a lot of work. And you probably worked up a sweat putting everything away, sort of cancelling out the bath to begin with.

boundforoz said...

And how about the washboard which is also on the outside wall. I remember them too as well as baths in the washhouse and pan toilets. Your post brought back lots of memories

Alex Daw said...

Do you think it is the music that makes the dog so relaxed. Honestly it looks like me at the hairdresser. No shame. I'd never thought about having to take a bath in a tiny room with the rest of the family. That would have been awkward. Note to self - Must read Wigan Pier.

La Nightingail said...

I wondered if someone else would use the tub or washboard hanging on the wall of the house in the prompt photo as something on which to build a theme, and you got to it so slyly, too - taking us on an interesting journey round your childhood home to arrive there. Nice going!

Kristin said...

Sounds terrible to have to be in the coal mines all day and not even be able to get a real bath.

Kerryn Taylor said...

those tubs certainly bring back memories. My grandmother wore out quite a few I think.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. thank goodness we had a bath when I was born .. no tubs around .. but I've used a few for various purposes. Loved seeing your old home .. must bring back loads of memories for you .. cheers Hilary

Jo Featherston said...

I get the impression from your post that outhouses don't mean toilets, whereas in Australia that is precisely what they mean. Anything else not part of the house is generally referred to as a shed!

Little Nell said...

They weren’t really the good old days at all were they? I was brought up in a mining community and the miners who walked past my window after a shift were always clean and smart; of course they relished the pithead baths.

Postcardy said...

I'm glad I never had to live without plumbing. When I think of places without plumbing, I think of shacks and old-fashioned farms, not sturdy stone houses. I'm wondering where the outhouse pail was emptied and who had to empty it.

Mike Brubaker said...

A clever pickup on a detail in the theme, Bob. I found that same video of the dog enjoying his wash this week too. No pitman ever had that luxury. Few dogs either.

Jo said...

Guess I was lucky. The first home I remember in Cheshire, had a proper bathroom inside. Never had to use a wash tub although Matt remembers doing so as a kid.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I remember using those round tubs on Girl Guide camps but I'd have hated to use one full-time and also only to have a once a week bath.

genepenn said...

Your post did bring back memories of outdoor dunnies and primitive bathing arrangements. Too bad if you were on the throne just at the time the nightman came to change the pan!