The Bathrooms

Upstairs, downstairs

There were two types of bath facility on St. Helier – the well-remembered bath in the kitchen with a hinged lid over it, or the bathroom upstairs which had a bath but no direct hot water taps. Hot water had to be carried up in a bowl for a wash or, for the bath, heated up in the downstairs copper and then pumped upstairs. Later an Ascot heater was provided.

The copper to heat the water was in the kitchen. This was heated by coal, underneath it of course, and ladled into the bath with a saucepan. So we had a bath once a week. Obviously, it was too much like hard work to do it any more and I remember we shared the water because again it would have been hard work to have emptied it out and given each one of us clean water, but we thought nothing of it in those days. We accepted it. (Doreen O'Halloran née Hayden)

Photo:Building plan for the downstairs bath/kitchen

Building plan for the downstairs bath/kitchen

City of London, London Metropolitan Archives

Risky do-it-yourself

I mean, we never had hot water upstairs. Well, we did. We put it in a big boiler in the kitchen which was filled with water which was boiled, and then Dad had to pump it up with a handpump to the bathroom - 'cause the bathroom was upstairs and that's how you had the bath. The old man, he got fed up with it. He bought a big old industrial gas ring, 'cause there was gas up there in the bedrooms so there was gas pipes up there. He somehow connected this gas thing to the ring and bought a big tub with a tap on it. Put a piece of old hardboard on the bath, put this gas ring on there, put this big tub - filled that up with cold water, set fire to the gas. Course, boiled that water up, turned the tap and you got hot water, instant hot water. I got my bath and put the gas on and I felt suddenly rough and I felt ill. Mum come running up - "What's happened?" I'm hanging over the bath. No ventilation - that's it. I was getting gassed! He was gassing me! So we used to have to have a bath with the window open. It was freezing in the winter. That was terrible - you got the window open and you're trying to have a hot bath. (Brian Doubtfire)

Rosemary Turner remembers the problems of having the bath in the kitchen

One way to clean the carpet!

Rosemary Paul remembers

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 02/08/2010.
Comments about this page

In the 1940s, my family lived in one of the two- bedroom cottages with the bath in the kitchen. As a small child I hated having to use the bath, with the hinged table-top over it, believing that it might crash down on top of me.

By Winifred Tyler
On 12/09/2010

When we moved into this two up two down there were my parents, my grandfather and myself with my brother arriving some 18 months later. My grandfather had the back bedroom to himself, and the rest of us shared the front bedroom with a curtain dividing my brother and I from my parents. Initially baths were taken in the front room using a tin bath (in front of the fire during the winter months), later my father installed a proper bath in the kitchen and made a removable cover that my mum could use as a work surface when the bath was not in use, sometime she would put the cover back over the bath whilst my brother and I were in it, what fun. I can recall her doing the washing and having to use the wringer to squeeze all the water from the clothing before she could hang them up to dry. When the bathrooms were eventually craned over the roof and installed on the back of the house we really felt that life had improved.

By John Burns
On 11/12/2010

I don't remember a copper downstairs- but there was a mark on the wall where it was- we had a big Ascot geyser over the bath upstairs, scared me to bits- never quite overcame that, my mum lost her eyebrows once with it-until around 1972 when dad fitted a shower and wash basin, up til then there was no washbasin, we had to use a bowl in the kitchen sink. when my dad finished the plumbing and switched on, water gushed all over mum downstairs!!! He got better!

By sue from Wiltshire
On 24/09/2011

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