Oceana Laundry was on St Ann's Road, by Cornwall Road. According to HoL member Stephen Hartley:
steam would hiss out of out of piping insulated with what looked like bandages. There was also the pungent smell of Chlorine all around St Ann's Road and that end of Cornwall Road too.
The Oceana's 'bagwash' service was how thousands of Tottenham & Harringay families, especially those with working mums, got their washing done in the days before widespread use of washing machines.
As the advert makes clear, the company had a receiving office at 30 Grand Parade (now part of Hala). They would then drop the laundry to your home if one of their small vans.
The picture below from 1923, shows their early vans.
The text which accompanied the picture was:
This laundry has receiving offices of which there are 12. These are visited daily, the vans returning at 10.30 a.m. The vans then go out on their rounds, collecting soiled linen from private houses, returning at 2 p.m. At 4 p.m. they again leave to deliver clean linen, returning from this work between 7 and 9p.m.
Below is a picture of a van from the fifties/sixties.
In addition to Oceana, Harringay had three other principal laundries through the first half of the 20th century
- Oakwood Laundry, by Colina Road
- Hermitage / Cyprus Laundry, by Hermitage Road
- Wise's Laundry, Colina Road (The listing below is from the 1955 London phone directory).
Wise's moved into the premises formerly occupied by Rest Cartwright Organ Builders (who also built the organ for the Coliseum Cinema). Shown below on 1952 Ordnance Survey map.
There was also a receiving office for the Silverdale Laundry, almost opposite Oakwood Laundry. There were also a some of smaller lanusdries, including one just south of The Beaconsfield. The following is from the Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald, 14th May 1909.
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I used to walk past the Oceana Laundry every day on way to South Grove Secondary Modern School.
Shortly after leaving school, probably summer of 65, I had an "infill" job at The Oceana Laundry. I started in the washing room and on the hydro driers...........big flat round drums which would appear to nearly taking off from floor on reaching maximum spin speeds. Very noisy contraptions but did the job. The dirty laundry would be bagged up ready for van collection from customers houses and some really stunk. Soiled nappies would be in those ones ! When the vans had completed their designated round they would take the dirties back to laundry and dumped off to be loaded into the washing machines. Each dirty bag and contents would be opened and loaded into individual washers. When wash cycle was completed the clean contents were returned into the bag and tied up. Multiple tied bags would then be loaded side by side into the driers taking care to spread the bags as evenly as possible around the drum to achieve a balanced spin. The vans would then be reloaded with clean load and delivered back to homes. Each bag was permanent marked with customers address. The aim was to collect payment on return of clean bag. Needless to say not all customers were at home on delivery day and run up a sizeable bill. The occasional housewife would offer payment in kind ! It was a weekly service, so drop off a clean and pick up a dirty. But another service was also offered, a washing and pressing service. This would be returned immaculately folded wrapped in brown paper tied with string. I ended up on delivery vans as drivers mate. It was a hard, dirty, smelly, noisy physical job. But I loved it. My drivers name was Ernie ! Really nice bloke, always clean and smart. The laundry foreman was called Frank, tough but fair. And there was a West Indian bloke, late 30's, named Harris who was a bit of a scrapper. He used to joke about with me and a mate. He used to spar with the two of us, challenging us to hit him while he held his hands behind his back, ducking and diving. On the occasions we caught him a hand would flash out from behind him and give us a noticeable slap !! For me it was a thoroughly enjoyable time. Loved it.