A clothes drainer

Our curator recalls that his mum used to spend hours at a kitchen sink hand washing clothes. Our archivist remembers that her mum used a dolly tub and posser. The way we wash clothes has changed out of all recognition in a short time – if you call fifty to sixty years a short time.

Today we are looking at an item which dates back more than 120 years. It is really part of history, and yet the reason for having such an object is really very obvious. It is a simple wooden rack.

An 1880s clothes draining rack at Market Lavington Museum

An 1880s clothes draining rack at Market Lavington Museum

Here, the 19th century rack is placed over a galvanised basin, but more probably it would have been over a copper. Clothes removed from the copper could be placed on the rack to drain. The advantages are obvious. The hot water was reused and whilst some heat would have been lost, much of the heat energy was returned to where it was wanted. The other benefit was that the water didn’t end up on the floor or anywhere else.

It’s a simple device and provides a good solution to a washday problem.

The rack came from Mr Joe Wells whose mother and grandmother ran the laundry at Sands Farm in Easterton. Joe’s mother had been Ann Fidler, born in Easterton and his grandmother had been born as Ann Hopkins in about 1839.

This item is on display in the washday area of our museum kitchen.

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