Your first job was to go to the wash house outside in the back yard and check if the metal pot that held water was full or not.
These were a bit of rough and tumble times, for if you were going out for a pint it was not just a simple case of turning on the hot water tap and away you went. Your first job was to go to the wash-house outside in the back yard and check if the metal pot that held water was full or not. If not, you took a bucket down to the tap at the bottom of the back yard and made a couple of trips to fill it up.
Next job was to set your fire, so you would get an old newspaper (always seemed to be the local Evening Chronicle), tear the sheets up and twist them, making a sausage shape that was placed in the fire grate. Making sure you had put on enough you would then get some sticks, not too thick as these took longer and were harder to light, and place them on top of the fire, making sure there were gaps for the lighted paper flames to burn through. Now last, you would take some coal and place it on top of the sticks, but not too much as this was harder to get alight. When you were satisfied you just put a match to it all and away it went.
Sometimes it would look like it was going to go out so you put up what was called a blazer. Taking the shovel you used to put coal on the fire, you would stand it in front of the fire and then you stretched a full sheet of newspaper across the rest of the opening. In no time at all you had a gale whistling through the gaps, which in turn got the paper and the sticks burning. A minute or two of this got your coal fire blazing, then you topped it up with a shovel full of coal and away you went. As the fire inside the wash-house was heating up the water, you just went back into the house, boiled a kettle of water on the gas and had a shave.
Once your shave was done out you went to the wash-house, transferred the hot water from the pot into the bath and that was you sorted. Now if you wanted you could always keep the fire going and put some more water in the metal pot, as in the winter it was freezing cold with gaps in the little window and a door that had gaps in both the top and bottom. On finishing your bath it was a case of just tipping it up and letting the water run away into the back yard. Check the fire and just let it burn itself out, then hang the bath back on the wall and you were ready to get dressed and out.
Most houses had two galvanised baths hanging on a nail in the back yard. One was an oval shaped one, which was at its widest about four foot by three foot and which was ideal for use in the front room next to the fire when washing kids. The second was about six foot long by about one foot six inches wide and could be used in the house but was better in the outdoor wash-house.
A wash-house was a brick building in the back yard of a house, which had a small window inside with a bench just in front of it so the women could scrub the likes of sheets etc., before putting them into the poss tub to rinse, then through the mangle ready to be hung out in the back lane for drying. The boiler itself was like a barbeque, with a fire grate enclosed by brick walls with a cast iron boiler fitted into the top which was filled with water from a tap.