The Wokingham Laundry
DescriptionIn 1909 Albert Andrews set up his first laundry in Wokingham, with his son Douglas in the Market Place. The premises were adapted to support a laundry but proved to be difficult and cramped.
Albert was looking for more suitable premises and via a local estate agent, H E Hall he was made aware of a plot of land in Station Road which had been part of the Walter estate. The site had plenty of space that was needed for the drying area. The plot also had a family sized house, then No. 13, which is now No. 39. The site is mostly occupied now by Alderman Willey Close. The site had a set of single storey buildings, a stable and a number of outbuildings.
It is believed that the site was formally an iron foundry run by Mr. L. Butler who then lived at 13 Station Road. The new laundry opened in 1911.
Albert served in the army during the latter part of World War I and on his return from duty he became a founder member of the Wokingham branch of the British Legion and was their secretary for 25 years.
Changes were made at the Laundry. Clean clothes were originally delivered by horse and cart which was added to by a steam wagon which was able to travel further. The laundry had its first motor van around 1926.
The drying area had around 250 yards of line next to vegetable plots. The machines in the laundry were powered by a small steam engine. Machines were used for washing, drying and ironing the likes of sheets and table cloths with other items hand ironed for which there were 40 to 50 irons.
The laundry after a difficult start began to be very successful and the first office in the town centre to receive washing was opened at 11A Broad Street.
Most of the employees were women who became the “laundry family”. The laundry was extremely busy during World War II, taking on increasing work from Arborfield garrison and had over 50 employees.
The laundry was eventually bought by the owners of a laundry in Reading who wished to expand their business, and continued for many years before they decided to shut the Wokingham site around 1962. The site is now Alderman Willey Close and the site of the original stream and gully is now a dry pond and shallow gully.
SourceThe Wokingham Laundry a personal memory from George Andrews published by the local history group of the Wokingham Society in the Wokingham Historian Number 9 dated 1966.
Photographs were taken in in the early 1930s.
“The Wokingham Laundry,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed October 21, 2020, https://www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0321.