Bringing the washing machines back to life!

Our engineering volunteers have been busy over the past few months. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse has been awarded funding by the Arts Council England PRISM fund to restore two washing machines in the laundry. This has paid for cleaning materials, new belts and bespoke parts to be made.

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The washing machines in the laundry date from 1950 and 1953 and are amongst the first automatic washing machines in Europe. Automatic washing machines are now the norm, but in the 1950s this was revolutionary technology that overhauled institutional and domestic laundry practices.

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The washing machines clearly demonstrate this revolutionary technology by having a clock face on the front of the machine with hands which would turn to the different cycles in the wash; 1st wash, 2nd wash, boil, 1st rinse, 2nd rinse, 3rd rinse, breakdown. Using a boil wash was normal then but now we are encouraged to wash at 15°C.

These washing machines had not been used since the building was a County Care Home, which closed in 1975. Our engineering volunteers have done a brilliant job carefully restoring them and getting them working. So when the new workhouse displays open this summer keep your eyes peeled for the cleaned up machines and join us on an event day to see them running.

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