Friday, January 22, 2016

Doing the Laundry - 18C & 19C Scotland

Scotch Washing at Scotland's Castle Boins or Boynes - Glasgow Green

Over the centuries, generations of Glasgow women used the Glasgow Green to undertake one of the most arduous of domestic chores - washing the clothes.  Apparently, Scotch washing wasn't confined to Glasgow. 

Castle Boins was an area on the banks of the Camlachie Burn, near to St. Andrew's-by-the-Green Episcopal Church, which was particularly popular with them. Eventually, a small enclosure of this name, which provided some degree of shelter during the operation, was located on the south bank of the burn. 

This became something of a forerunner to the Wash House on the Green which was later provided by the Town Council in c 1733. The unusual name attaching to the location was derived from the hundreds of tubs, or boynes as they were known, found there in which the women treaded their washing.

The locality even became something of a very early tourist attraction because of the method of washing known as Scotch Washing. With their skirts and petticoats raised out of harm's way, the exposure of their limbs was considered immodest by the more prudish of the day. The women themselves are reported to have been less concerned with the spectacle than with trying to do their work, although in 2 of the 18C illustrations in this posting shows one very interested observer Tom being threatened with a paddle.

Castle Boins also developed into something of a social venue where folk would gather for a drink. Part of the area was eventually incorporated into David Dale’s tavern garden. It’s use as a washing area was finally ended, when the river became too polluted to provide a source of clean water.