It began on an aimless walk out of Wigan on through Frimley, I found heaven on earth in the warm enfolding arms of the Washeteria. A perfectly preserved fascia, interior and machines, more by diffident neglect than good management. Signature wood effect and patterned Formica panelling, over earnest signs demanding the highest standards of personal conduct, etched in thick discoloured coloured plastic, abound on every surface. Stuttering strip lighting and a stone cold linoleum floor. A dull white ceiling, with a surface texture formed from deep frozen ennui.
Three years later I had visited and snapped several examples, all with their own uniques characteristics though all contributing to a typology.
In the United Kingdom known as launderettes or laundrettes, and in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand as laundromatsor washeterias.
George Edward Penury created the word laundromat for Westinghouse.
According to NALI – the National Association of the Launderette industry, numbers peaked at12,500 in the early 80s but have since dwindled to just 3,000.
The first UK launderette – alternative spelling: laundrette. was opened on May 9th 1949 in Queensway London.
Come with me now and relive those warm damp languorous moments as we visit eight laundrettes.
All the books sold out in three hours – so here’s your chance to flick through the virtual pages as the prewash finishes.
The area was my playground. Holt Town was always a but scary, there were old factories along the opposite side with wartime helmets in. A scrap yard under the arch. I remember sucking up mercury off the floor with a straw obviously from a spillage, no thoughts of danger, I’m alright now. The Seven Wonders, as we knew it, River, canal, railway, road, waterfall all crossing each other, not sure why? A fantastic industrial area to grow up in. The Don Cinema at the top corner at Mitchell Street and Ashton New Road.
We are travelling backwards and forwards in time – firstly back to 1845 when the street was yet to be built, before the Industrial Revolution created the need for workers’ homes, to house the workers from the newly built workplaces, which also did not yet exist.
A little further forward to 1896 when Jetson Street has emerged fully formed from the fields, along with rail, road, amusement and industry.
Fast forward to today and it’s all almost still there – though most of the work and the majority of the amusement has evaporated into a cloud of post-industrial, Neo-Liberal economic stagflation.
So why am I here – fast forward to the fictional future!
As a kid I watched as the Jet Age emerged before my very square eyes, giving the street a certain cosmic charm – I was curious.
I have searched online – this seems to be the one and only Jetson Street in the whole wide world – I searched online for its origins.
The name Jetson means Son Of Jet and is of American origin.
Which quite frankly seems unreasonably glib.
The name Jetson is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of the Britain and comes from the names Judd and Jutt, which are pet forms of the personal name Jordan. These names are derived from Jurd, a common abbreviation of Jordan, and feature the common interchange of voiced and voiceless final consonants.
The surname Jetson was first found in Hertfordshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.
Which quite frankly seems unreasonably obscure.
Let’s jet back to 1964.
T Brooks wandered these streets taking thousands of photographs for the Manchester Corporation, possibly the housing or highways departments – they all still exist here on the Local Image Collection.
This was a world of corner shops on ever corner, settled communities full-employment, neatly ordered rows of sturdy brick-built homes.
I follow in his hallowed footsteps, what if anything remains of this world – fast forward to 2015 my first fleeting visit.
The area now has a richer racial mix – having recently become home to many African and Eastern European families. The architectural consistency of the houses has been swamped by render, window frame replacement, addition and extension, and the arrival of a plethora of motor cars. The majority of shops now long gone, as the once pedestrian community spread their retail wings and wheels elsewhere.