A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 27




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 27

It’s almost time now to say farewell to the Oldfield family. As we step out through their front door into the courtyard, let’s image that it is Friday evening (or maybe Saturday). Friday night is bath night, and handing on the wall next to the bay window here is a “tin” bath. In spite of the name they were not made of tin, or indeed coated with tin. They were made from galvanised steel, this means steel, coated with zinc.

All afternoon mum would be boiling up pans & kettles of water over the fire and when she had gathered her family together she would drag the “tin” bath into the house place it in front of the fire. She would then fill it with hot and cold water to get the temperature just right.

The first person would climb in – who would it be?

Dad – the main breadwinner would bath first. He would have had a week’s worth of sweat and grime on his body – the water would soon be turning grey!

Next in would be mom, then the eldest child, and so on down the pecking order as the siblings take a bath. The youngest would be last.

If the weather was good then the bath would have been dragged out into the courtyard for a touch of al-freco bathing!

With all the family cleaned up (a little) mom would not waste the water. By the 1870s the courtyard had been paved, with the blue bricks that we see now, so mon would be very proud of her part of the courtyard and would use the left-over bath water to clean it. She would throw the contents of the bath over the paving and sweep it down.

But, by now the water would be filthy and if the last person in the bath was very small they may still be in there!!

Hence the saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” It is true? Well ………

The Oldfields’ house with the tin bath hanging on the wall
Bath night in the courtyard
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” cartoon