By Mark McConville
STUNNING retro photographs have revealed how men were designated a night to do the more traditionally female task of the laundry.
Incredible images show the men’s night at the public laundry in the then metropolitan borough of Holborn in London in 1946.
The striking shots show a man operating a spin dryer for clothing at the laundry on Endell Street, men hanging up clean laundry for drying and ironing their clothes as well as folding up the clean laundry into a bag.
The pictures see men arrive in long trench coats and hats but the heat of the building is apparent as these are stored in lockers.
The men then go about their business with rolled up shirt sleeves although some lose their shirts altogether as the heat gets to them.
A laundrette is a facility where clothes are washed and dried without much personalized professional help.
The first completely self-service, coin-operated laundrette didn’t open in the UK until 1949 so it’s likely these men had some help from staff to wash their clothes.
Laundrettes are generally found only in urban and suburban areas and have been common features of urban life since the 1960s. In the last two decades there has been a decline in the number of launderettes, to approximately 3000 nationally.
Rapidly rising utility charges, premises rent and a lower purchase cost of domestic machines have been noted as principal reasons for the recent decline. High initial launch costs, specifically for commercial washing machines and dryers, have also been commented on as reasons for fewer new entrants into the market. Furthermore, machine updates can be prohibitively expensive, which has held back premises investment.