Stella Ridley: Laundry, Yarmouth 1960s

Working in Yarmouth Laundry

1965 and I had a few weeks of the Summer holiday to spare, so thought I would get a temporary job. There was work going in Yarmouth Laundry but I was told by most people that I’d hate it, my family in particular were very disapproving  – so as a teenager I obviously had to give it a try!

The people were welcoming; my work was to help an older lady and a girl a little older than myself to process all the incoming laundry. This included hampers from hotels and guest-houses and private laundry also. All had to be separated and marked before it went for processing through the washing and pressing.

The noise level was high, there was a lot of steam and I wasn’t allowed to play with the interesting machinery, but there were regular breaks and the work wasn’t difficult, just continuous, though not very pleasant. Some of the laundry was quite stinky, especially chefs’ clothes from the hotels.  When the incoming laundry was finished we were straight onto helping with other jobs such as wrapping laundered items for return, not a minute seemed to be wasted.

All was well until some days into the work, during high Summer and a hot spell of weather, when some of the hampers from hotels (and one Yarmouth one in particular) contained not only dirty laundry but copious numbers of maggots feeding on it. I was really squeamish about this and couldn’t ‘just get used to it’ as I was expected to.  So there ended my brief career as a laundress, others were braver.

I still flinch at the idea of anything maggoty to this day.

Leave a Reply