Do you remember the baths by the fire?
Well, I don’t actually remember them myself, though when looking through some old photos I did find one of myself when young, splashing around with my brother in a tin bath in our garden, so clearly it was part of family life at one time.
Here at St Christophers House retirement housing scheme in Morpeth we have just had brand new bathrooms installed in our flats and it has got me thinking about how the humble bathroom has changed over the years.
From conversations we’ve had here during our reminiscence afternoons, I know some of my neighbours remember the days of outside toilets, no bathrooms, washing in the kitchen sink and bathing in the tin bath in front of the fire.
Bathing tended to be a once a week, or even fortnightly occasion, with all the family taking turns and water heated up on the stove. Only the rich folk had those amazing built-in baths, free standing with claw feet and huge brass taps.
Gradually, during the 1950s, bathrooms were added to old houses or incorporated into new ones. Toilets came indoors and baths were built in. Eventually we came to have what we consider “proper bathrooms” with plenty of room in the bath for a couple of children at a time, and what fun they had splashing around and playing for hours with bath toys.
A nice long lie in the bath became a treat for adults too, a relaxing retreat from the troubles of the day.
Next came the electric shower over the bath. I always swore I would never have one, never give up my bath times, but when we moved to a house with one already installed and both morning and evenings became busier for all the family, what a joy the handy shower was. No more hanging about waiting for the bath to run, no dunking one’s hair into the bath or basin and struggling to rinse the shampoo out effectively.
And so the years rolled by…having a shower over the bath still worked, but leaping in and out again is becoming a thing of the past (like sitting in a tin bath in front of the fire). It’s not so easy to get in and out of the bath safely now, and I guess it’s only going to get more difficult. Here at St Christophers House we have had our bathrooms upgraded to become walk-in shower rooms, and although I’m a little sad to see my bath go, I do enjoy knowing I can step confidently into my new shower whenever I want, without any fear that I might get stuck as the water drains away!
So – a salute to the old tin bath and the outside toilet – and hurray for a hotel standard shower room of our very own here at St Christophers, which we will be able to enjoy for years to come.
Mary Hill lives at Anchor's St Christophers House retirement housing scheme in Morpeth