I am absolutely fascinated with history. That’s probably why I’m so obsessed with Downton Abbey. While I am interested in the characters and story line, I’m way more interested with the fashion and how they lived everyday life. The first episode was set in 1912, and the Abbey was just getting electricity. Mrs. Patmore was cooking the family’s meals over a wood burning stove. They’ve never really showed anything in the way of cleaning clothing. But I did notice in season one, they were stitching things by hand, and a few seasons later a ladies maid caused a huge ruckus when she brought a sewing machine into the servant’s hall.
When it comes to clothing, they had some really elaborate wears back then. Apparently there were laundry maids in those days, though there is no mention of them as part of the downstairs servant’s crew on the show. Could you imagine being a laundry maid in 1912? While the electric wringer washer had come along by then, there was still no modern-type dryer on the market. Everything was hung on clothes lines to air dry.
The first mention of a dryer dates back to the 1800s, when a Frenchman named Pochon created a vented barrel shaped metal drum to be placed over a fire and turned by hand. Sounds dangerous to me. Even though the first electric clothes dryer was introduced in 1915, it took until 1938, when the Hamilton Manufacturing Company put out the first automatic dryer, for the use of an electric dryer to even be heard of. Unfortunately, the cost of one was so incredibly high that only 10% of U. S. households had one even as late as 1955. Today, we take owning a clothes dryer for granted but truly they’ve not been around all that long. In fact, my parents didn’t get one until after my sister was born – in 1972.
Dryers today can do more than just dry clothes – many can kill germs, de-wrinkle, and most sense moisture levels. But remember, like with any other piece of equipment, it requires regular maintenance. And if you decide you want to give your dryer a break, there are lots of benefits to the 1912 way of line-drying your clothes.