Spinning Stories


Spinning Stories walk by cqualmann

Some photos from this morning’s guided walk, thanks to Barney Hewlett for taking these.

If you’d like to do the walk you can pick up a printed guide at The Women’s Library,

or download the PDF version here you’ll also need the map PDF version here.

1. Setting off from The Women’s Library

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2. Rothschild Arch

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3. Bengal Cuisine, site of Cash Wash Launderette

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4. Bangla City Cash and Carr, site of the Russian Vapour Baths

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5. St Anne’s Church

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6. Cheshire Street Baths, Abbey Street Laundry

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7. Smarty pants Launderette and Dry Cleaners

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8. Princess Launderette

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9. The Old Laundry, Boundary Estate

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10. The Boundary Estate Community Launderette

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Cheshire Street Baths, Abbey Street Laundry by cqualmann

Built by the vestry of the parish of St Matthew in 1898 (officially opened on the 11th July 1900) the Cheshire Street Baths, and Abbey Street Laundry (part of the same building, just with separate entrances) still stand. The Laundry closed in 1974, and the baths on the 30th September 1978. The Laundry, despite the removal of the machinery is pretty much intact, and has been occupied by the Repton Boys club since 1978. The baths were turned into flats in the 1990s following years of dereliction and failed proposals to turn the building into a leisure centre. The Museum of London has some of the machinery and fittings



An inquiry into communal laundry facilities, 1949 by cqualmann

At the TUC library I’ve been reading this report, by  Janet C. Wilson, published as a National Building Study (no.9). It’s remit is huge, and the research behind it involved a survey of 6,000 people. As well as statistics ( “approximately 50% of all households wash on Monday”) it includes commentary, opinion and policy proposals such as:

“for all communal laundries and public washhouses, privacy and proper segregation of each user’s washing should be ensured by grouping the washing equipment in cubicles” p.28

and:

“experience during the the inquiry has shown that when the housewife does the washing herself, small establishments are prefereable to large, as the distance from home is less and it is possible to obtain a pleasanter atmosphere and better spirit among the users, and pilfering is practically eliminated”. p.31



Susie Parsons describes laundry campaigning by cqualmann
August 9, 2009, 9:49 am
Filed under: Contributions, Public washhouses and laundries
In 1973 the Notting Dale Laundry Group launched a campaign
to save the Silchester Public Baths and Wash-houses building
in North Kensington, London, which was threatened with
closure by the local Council. Out tactics included  getting it
listed as a building of historic interest, as it had been
designed by Thomas Verity, the distinguished Victorian architect
of the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly. We also strung washing
around the town hall, disrupted Council meetings and had a float
in the Notting Hill Carnival to publicise our campaign.
We did not succeed in saving the building but we did force the
Council to provide another, smaller public laundry. When public
expenditure cuts hit again in the 1980s the Council threatened
to close the new public laundry, so the Notting Dale Laundry 
Group negotiated to take it over and we ran the laundry 
ourselves with a rota of volunteers for ten years or so. 
It was a place where women (and a few men) could do their 
washing together, chat and have a cup of tea.