Saturday, 9 June 2012

Saturday is bath night - regardless!

Bruce Taylor, aka "Catalyst" at Oddball Observations , had a nice lead-in to a story about birds . It took me back 50 years to the days when hot water was so precious we bathed only once a week. Truth be known, with the high cost of electricity these days, hot water should be more precious now than it was then. More correctly, I think the once a week baths were a hangover from the days when bathing required boiling the wood-fired copper and was a much more major operation than simply turning on the hot tap.

In fact I have a vague recollection of our family depending on the copper for hot baths but much stronger memories of  the copper being fired up to boil the bed linen in times prior to the exciting day our first washing machine arrived. Saturday night was our bath night too, and Bruce may well be right in surmising that was because of Sunday being church day. I seem to recall that Saturday was bath night for most people.

We had a neighbour in our small town who had the unenviable job of driving a horse-drawn open dray from door to door overnight on one night per week, to collect the nightsoil (a.k.a. poos and wees) from each household. His task was to remove the open can from the out-house of every household, tip the contents into the dray and return the can to be re-filled during the ensuing week. One assumes he didn't exactly smell of roses by the time he returned home at the end of his night's work. Anyway, it was well known that our neighbour didn't have electrically heated hot water and could only take a hot bath after boiling the "copper". Nightsoil collection was Wednesday night. Smoke emerged from our neighbour's washhouse only on Saturday nights.


  1. "Nightsoil collector" - a nasty job, I'd think.

  2. Hi - just wondering about the picture that you have on this entry - 'the family' copper. Do you know any history on such an item, age of it, where they were made etc...
    I have just purchased one and want to find out more about them. Any info or leads would be much appreciated.
    Thanks Melanie

    1. They were an essential and universal household item until electric and gas heated household water supplies made them obsolete, so there must have been numerous manufacturers and various designs. The cast iron outers (fireboxes) would have been smashed up and sold as scrap metal, as one seldom sees them today.