Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Bromley Museum: What the label doesn't tell you.

Local museums attract local people
and if you're really lucky you get to chat to them,
because they "pop in every now and then to see what has changed".
Who better to talk to about the objects in Bromley Museum
than the locals.

Whatever the labels say,
you can't beat hearing someones personal experience with objects in museums.
It's a bit like looking at laundry labels with all those washing symbols,
you sometimes learn more from personal experience,
surely you really don't have to hand wash?

Take the Victorian washing Dolly.
As Bromley Museum tells us,
"was still in use in some areas well into the 20th century".
 Well according to the couple I was chatting to,
it still is in use,
in the 21st century.

Her: "Our neighbour in her early 80s still uses one of those for her sheets."
Him: "Mind you he might be doing it now because she's not so good on her feet."

I was full of admiration for their neighbour,
I can hardly keep up with washing our family's bedding
with a fully automatic washing machine,
and I'm half her age.

The Mangle, 1910.
Not immediately obvious as to what it is when you have been born in the 21st century.
"An iron?"
"Something you use to dry things?"

They had deduced that it was to help with the laundry...
...but no-one could have guessed that the mangle meant status.

"You used to show off if you had a mangle.
If you were rich you had a mangle,
you'd go to school and tell everyone, 'we've got a mangle'.
We might have lived in a council house in Green Street Green,
but we were rich because we had a mangle."
Her mother's mangle was scrubbed weekly to keep those rollers spotless
and the pressing saved on ironing.

"See, I was right, it was to do with ironing."
That put me in my place.

Bromley Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays,
closed for lunch each day between 12.30-1.30pm.

Nowadays the laundry can be done at the same time as visiting a museum.
If you put on a load before you leave the house,
it might be ready to hang out when you get home.


  1. I always love a small local museum. Things always seem more personal somehow.

  2. And meeting visitors with experience of the objects in these museums is a great way to learn about social history. Plus make me eternally grateful for modern design.

  3. Thank you for popping over to my blog and leaving a lovely comment. If there is a museum in a town, city or indeed village you can guarantee we will visit it! they are all so different. x


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