In my grandmother's house I always remember a tin bath hanging on the wall because of course there wasn't an actual bathroom in most colliery houses. The toilet was outside (a flush one thankfully by the 1940's) and most washing was done at the scullery sink. Often the tin bath was kept out in the yard.
Pit baths were available for miners after a shift was done, which really eased the workload of the miners' wives but some miners preferred not to use them. Info from The People's Collection of Wales reveals that some miners refused to wash the coal dust from the small of their back because they thought it would diminish their strength.
Most often bath night was on a Friday. It took place in the kitchen - the nerve-centre of the house. The tin bath was taken down, put in front of the fire and filled with kettlefuls of hot water. Later, some houses had small electric water heaters installed in the scullery making it easier to access the hot water, but in the early days you simply had to boil the kettle on the hob.
Getting a bath was hard work! In a large family bathing was usually in age order. Women draped sheets over a clothes horse and bathed behind it for modesty's sake (National Coalmining Museum for England). Check out this first hand account of bath night using a tin bath.
If you have any more info you'd like to share from your own family history, just leave a comment. I'd love to hear!
|© National Museum of Wales|
photo credit: The National Museum of Wales / Amgueddfa Cymru