Dollytub and Mangle

May 15, 2008 at 15:26 | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Dollytub and Mangle

Barrow’s excellent Dock Museum is mainly devoted to local industry, and especially shipbuilding, but there’s quite a bit of social history in there including exhibits that thrill with a shock of recognition when you confront them. This domestic scene, for example. My Nanna – Mrs Hannah Storey, late of 26 King Alfred Street, Walney, if it rings any bells for anybody – had a setup exactly like this one for her washing. It always seemed to be washing day at Nanna’s. The dolly tub would be filled with hot water, the washing swished around in it in Dolly Blue with the dolly peg, which is the thing like a three-legged stool with a long handle, before being fished out with the wooden tongs. Before being hung out to dry in the back street the excess water was squeezed out by the mangle, a ferocious piece of machinery.

Dolly Blue was made at Backbarrow, up the A590 near Newby Bridge. Passing through Backbarrow used to be a notable part of visiting grandparents back in the days when the main road to Barrow was a real old winding country lane. If you tried to explain Backbarrow to today’s children they wouldn’t believe you. It was a stone-built village on the River Leven with a factory, but everything about it was a quite vivid shade of blue that pervaded everything. The factory was blue because that’s where the stuff was made. The houses were blue, even the trees and the rocks in the river were stained blue. It was seriously surreal even to my five-year-old eyes.



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  1. I remember dolly-blue – my mother used to do the washing in the kitchen in something I recall being called a “copper”.

  2. You had a copper? Bloody posh people!

  3. It was a council-house!

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