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History and Recollections

Janet Dandy
Published in 1985 By Carnegie Press Copyright © Janet Dandy
Reproduced for reference only

The Home

The living room-cum-kitchen was the focal point of the house. Here the family lived, had their meals, and here the cooking and baking was done; in the evening the family gathered around the fire with various activities.


The old way of delivering milk. I well remember the milk cart coming around, twice a day, the milk carried in large cans on the back of the float, from where it was ladled into the jugs of the housewife.


A fire burned in the Yorkshire range and was often kept in all night, with slack and cinders or peat for slow burning (peat stacks in the farmyard were a common sight). From the beams in the ceiling hung sides of bacon and hams covered in butter muslin.

Very few homes had bathrooms or inside toilets. Baths were taken in large tin baths in front of the fire when the rest of the team had gone to bed.

All food was cooked in the home. In summer different jams were made and fruit was bottled in air-tight jars.

The iron oven was heated by coal; the hot air was drawn under the oven when the damper was raised. The damper was a sheet of metal about 9" x 7" which closed the cavity under the oven from the fire. The housewife had no thermometer, but by practice could gauge the temperature of the heated oven. What delicious smells filled the kitchen as the bread was taken out and put aside to cool.

Fruit pies and custard were baked along with cheesecakes (made with curds of buttermilk plus sugar, a beaten egg and lemon juice or currants for flavouring) as well as 'raised' pork pies, fruit loaves and seed buns.

In my mother's young days baking was done in a brick oven which was built into the wall of the kitchen. Before use, peat was placed inside and set to burn until the oven was very hot. The ashes were then raked out and the oven washed. It kept hot for hours without any more attention; pies were baked first, then bread and lastly fruit loaves and seed buns.

Labour saving devices in the home were unknown, so the day's work was long and arduous. Monday was washing day and what a boon in the early part of the twentieth century to have piped water. Before 1896, when mains water was supplied, housewives depended on wells for water, or water had to be carried from the well in Coe Lane (unfortunately when the road was widened the well disappeared). In spring, when blankets and heavy garments were washed and plenty of water was needed, the farmer would take a cart, carrying tubs to the well in Coe Lane to ensure an ample supply.


This is another old thatched cottage that has been renovated and altered. This one is on Gorse Lane

Water was heated in large pans over the fire until boilers were introduced. Clothes were scrubbed, dollied, mangled and starched, all by hand. The first mangle to appear in Tarleton was bought by public subscription in the latter half of the 19th century for a poor widow with two small sons. For mangling wet clothes herself she charged two pence and if the customer did the work herself the charge was one penny.

Clothes were ironed either with a flat iron heated in front of a glowing fire or with a box iron into which a red hot iron heater was placed. The clothes were later aired on a clothes rack which hung from the ceiling.


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