Spinning Stories

The Boundary Estate Laundry – history by cqualmann
July 3, 2009, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Historic Launderettes and Laundrys | Tags: ,

I’ve been at Bancroft Road (Tower Hamlets Local History Library) today looking up information on the Laundry that was built as part of the estate. This is an extract from the LCC publication ‘ The Housing Question in London, 1855 – 1900’ published in 1900. p.200.

“The question arose whether in lieu of laundry accommodation in such blocks a central laundry should not be provided for the use in common of all the tenants on the area. Guided chiefly by considerations of health, but also by the fact that it was difficult to secure an adequate water supply to the roofs of five storey dwellings, the council in October 1894, decided that the experiment of a central laundry should be tried on the area.

Accordingly a building was designed to provide a waiting room and a laundry proper with 42 washing stalls, each stall having a washing compartment with hot and cold water supply and a boiling compartment fed by steam. Provision was made at the end of each range for a hydro extractor and a mangle driven by steam, and at the end of the building for a range of 42 drying horses for drying the clothes with hot air. Four slipper baths for women and twelve for men were provided in an annexe to the laundry building.

It was estimated that an annual deficit of £392 18s and 3d representing an additional rent of 3/4d per week per room in the tenements on the area would be incurred in respect of this building. As a set-off against this, however, it was estimated that a capital expenditure of £13125 would be saved by the non provision of laundry accommodation in the blocks of dwellings. This sum represented an annual charge of £700 13 s and 9d, equivalent to 1 1/4 d per week per room on the tenements in the area, so that the total gain to the tenants by the provision of a central laundry was estimated at 1/2 d per week per room. The additional charge for the use of the laundry must of course be deducted from this, but it was anticipated that such deduction could not equal the cost to the tenant of providing separate fires for washing and drying purposes. This charge was originally intended to be 1 1/2 d. per hour for the first 2 hours use of the laundry, 2 d per hour for the next 2 hours, and 3 d per hour afterwards; with a charge of 1 d for a cold bath and 2 d for a hot bath. Plans of the laundry building, in which 2 club rooms were subsequently provided for social use, were then proceeded with, and the building was undertaken in 1895 by the works department, at an estimated cost of £5890. The necessary machinery was, after competition, supplied by Mr J. Cochrane, whose tender was £2400 and the building was completed towards the end of the summer of 1896. The actual cost of the building was £6509 the architects final estimate being £6532 3 s 3d, and the actual cost of the machinery was £2504. The value of the site is £1250. The staff at the laundry consist of an engineer and matron (man and wife) a stoker and a matron’s assistant.

This photograph of the laundry in operation is from the book ‘The blackest streets – the life and death of a Victorian slum’ by Sarah Wise.



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