This post was brought on by a recent visit to the Angus Folk Museum in Glamis village. A row of labourers’ cottages has been transformed into a museum full of household and other items from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Wandering through the rooms, it was hard to avoid the thought that this was a way of life that was about as far removed from our present day lifestyle as one could imagine. Yet, so many of the objects were familiar to me. Which is not surprising, as my parents were still using many of the implements in this museum well into the 1950s. While my maternal grandmother’s two roomed flat in the Hilltown in Dundee, were it still there, would have made a wonderful museum piece. Wandering through the Folk museum was like being back in my grandmother’s flat. Here I want to highlight a couple of items that brought back some memories of my childhood. The first is this photo of a row of carpet beaters. It amazes me to realize just how much our world has changed in the past 50 years or so.
First is this photo of a row of carpet beaters. I remember this activity quite clearly, which was probably part of the famous spring cleaning exercise. At any rate the carpets and large rugs of the household were rolled up and taken out to the back garden. There they were unrolled and hung over a long washing line between two poles. Then with the aid of the wooden beaters as illustrated the carpet was literally beaten with the most powerful strokes you could summon up. What a cloud of dust and stour would rise up from the carpet! I was too young to get involved much in the actual work, but is was good fun watching. Especially as it could only happen on bright sunny days. I guess the introduction of more powerful electric hoovers put an end to this ancient activity.
Next up are these two photos of old laundry utensils. The first shows a couple of washboards and the lower one a mangle. We had both items in our home and my granny had some beautiful examples in her flat well into the 1970s. The washboard as the name suggests was used in the washing process. Whatever was to be washed, clothing, sheets etc was first soaked in soapy water and then rubbed ferociously against the washboard to get out the engrained dirt. The washed items were then rinsed thoroughly in cold clean water. This was when the mangle came into use. A simple but effective device to squeeze the excess water out of the cleaned items. Some of these mangles could be of near industrial dimensions for heavy sheets and blankets.
Finally an example of an iron built cooking hearth. I don’t remember ever having one of these in our home, but my granny certainly did. Wonderful contraptions which kept the flat warm and doubled as an ever ready cooker. A kettle always on the boil for a cup of tea and a griddle for scones, pancakes or oatcakes. Usually there was an iron rod from which you could hang pots. The rod would be swivelled round to hang over the stove for cooking and swivelled back when not in use. The room was petty smoky with one of these stoves in it. But very effective in what was an all purpose room – kitchen, living and bedroom. Those were the days!
Amazing to remember that my parents and grandparents lived with these items as part of their every day life. It must seem like ancient history for our children and grandchildren. Good though that they can visit places like the Angus Folk Museum and see for themselves what life was like not that long ago.