Filed under: Contributions
My interest in launderettes has almost certainly come from my love of the 50s & 60s and although my local launderette has needed more than a coat of paint over the years it still very clearly embraces its past. It still has its original soap dispenser on the wall surrounded by some unbelievably cool posters. Stained pine paneling runs around the interior with a solitary fan buzzing in the corner.
Han is a MA photography student at Newport, working on a documentary project focusing on the British launderette, he writes:
The laundrette is a classic British institution. I first noticed the launderette after I came to the United Kingdom. I found that local people would always take their dirty clothes to the laundry room for washing. Perhaps in China, there are no public laundry rooms and people are more used to wash their clothes with a washing machine at home, and generally, different kinds of clothes will be classified into washing underwear and outerwear separately. In addition, I knew that most British families have a washing machine. Therefore, initially, I am very curious about why people prefer to go to launderettes rather than wash at home. What kind of things will be laundered in launderettes? I asked the staff and customers about my questions when I went into the launderettes to practice this project. Apparently, different people have different answers. Some people answered that they need to wash some large things such as the beddings, so they have to wash in launderettes; some people said their washing machine was broken; and others responded that they will wash dirty clothes at home, and just dry at laundrettes because they have no way to drying at home.
The second reason, which encourages me to practice this project, is from the movie <My Beautiful Laundrette> (1985). It is a British film which mixed the racism and sexism issues and had caused considerable attention in the international film world. The story focuses on Omar, a young Pakistani man living in London, and his reuniting and eventual romance with his old friend, a street punk named Johnny. The two become the caretakers and business managers of a Laundromat originally owned by Omar’s parents, and a couple of lovers. This film made me have a strong interest in the launderette and inspired me to try to understand in the end what it looks like. What more exciting stories will be happen there? Or as the clip <The Launderette> demonstrates what lovely karma that brings for you: perhaps in launderette, people can experience the true love or create miracles.
Filed under: Contemporary Launderettes
It seems the launderettes of California are thriving! They’re everywhere in San Francisco and LA.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Spinning Stories, a walk about laundry and the places people chat, tell stories, exchange tips and share news,
Saturday 17th July 2010, at 11am
Thursday 22nd July 2010, at 6.30pm
tickets £10, booking via the Women’s Library
tel. 020 7320 2222
The walk begins at the Women’s Library, Old Castle Street, London, E1, which is on the site of the old Goulston Square washhouse, and ends at the Boundary Estate Community Launderette, one of the few remaining facilities in the area. It includes a number of launderettes and public baths, past and present, and invites participants to think about changing attitudes to women’s talk, to public and private spaces, and to the role of informal chat in everyday life.
Rachel alerted me to a mention of the arrival of launderettes in David Kynaston’s Austerity Britain 1945-1951.
Chapter 3, Jolly good as a whole, p.325 “Britain’s first self-service, coin-operated launderette opened, for a six-month trial, at 184 Queensway in Bayswater on 10 May. ‘All that housewives have to do is bring the washing, put it in the machine and come back 30 minutes later (charge 2s 6d for 9lbs)’, explained the local paper.’
An anecdote from Janet Street-Porter in the same chapter ‘as we didn’t have a television, I found the hour or so spent watching the sheets and towels being washed in a machine every week totally mesmeric’. (p.326) echoes Viv Newman’s experience in Kensington 10 years later http://spinningstories.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/laundry-memories-by-viv-newman/
On Sunday I went to my local launderette to dry some towels and a dressing gown that I had washed at home but had nowhere to hang up. An older woman engaged me in conversation – first complaining that the spinners weren’t working (which makes the drying very expensive) – and then telling me a bit about herself. She had met the Queen twice, and Princess Diana once – “before the gossip killed her”.
Wednesday October 14th, ‘The Laundry Room’ Broadway Market
video coming soon!