In the Hanover area in the 19th Century, it was common for households to set up as a laundry. As a working-class area, many people had to find ways of earning money in hard times. The Census in 1851 showed that there were 68 households operating as a laundry.
Back in October 1967, my family moved from Colbourne Avenue, Moulsecoomb to 8a Islingword Street, I was 10 years old at the time and it was a radical change for me. One day I had bags of garden to play in and the next a postage stamp of a garden and a street at the front, also I had to now get a bus to school after a long walk down Southover Street.
Originally a Laundry
The property we were moving in to had been a laundry in the past. The first occupants according to the ‘My House My Street‘ website, were a Mrs Lewery (Laundress) and the listing showed that the number of the house was 8 and a half as opposed to 8a. In 1896 it changed to a James Cummings, then in 1901, the tenant was a William Mercer. He had the house until 1903 when a W. Cooter took it on until 1916. From 1916 to 1964 the occupants were a Mr and Mrs Fairhall, it was listed as Joseph until the mid 30’s then it was Mrs M Fairhall. In 1964 it was a Mrs Mechen who lived at the property until my parents bought the house in 1967.
A house full of surprises
On the day we moved in we pulled up in the car and my nan, who hadn’t seen the house, was astonished to realise that she used to work there when it was a laundry, whilst she was living in Holland Street. Added to that when we went down into the cellar there was a mangle that my nan had used in her time there 40 or so years before. I wanted to keep it but my dad threw it out. Number 8a was the biggest house in the street, we found out that it was possibly built after all the other houses, and before that had been a wide passage through to what we believe was a farm on the site of Ewart Street which was built after Islingword Street. On one occasion my dad was in the garden and he dug down to what we thought was cobbles. Maybe someone can give a bit more information on this?
A welcome move in 1971
When my parents bought the house (I remember it was about £2000), there was no bathroom and 2 sinks, one in the kitchen and one on the landing leading down to a rather dark cellar.
Personally I never liked living there, I’d been used to open spaces and the trip down to the basement in the middle of the night to the bathroom wasn’t good! My parents moved to Upper Lewes Road in 1971 which for me was a blessing, the bus to school was just down the road and I didn’t have to climb Southover Street every day!