A washing dolly
At Market Lavington Museum we have various laundry items that would have been used in the days before washing machines. (See Wash Day Items). In many homes, Monday morning was taken up with doing the weekly wash.
In the front of this picture we see objects known as a washing dollies or possers. We will focus on one of these in more detail. Some dollies look like stools on a long handle, but the one on the right has a copper head.
It looks very familiar to our curator, who can remember using a similar one as a child in the 1950s. The museum posser is said to date from about 1910. A large barrel shaped container, called a dolly tub, was filled with hot water and soap flakes and the clothes were put in the water. It was good practice to start with the least grubby items, such as sheets, and to wash more soiled clothes later.
The posser was pushed up and down in the tub until the dirt came out of the clothes and into the water. Then the clothes would be lifted out of the hot water with wooden laundry tongs and squeezed through the rollers of a mangle, returning the surplus water to the dolly tub. The clothes were rinsed and mangled again before hanging out on the clothes line.
The base of this posser head has holes, allowing the entry of water squeezed from the clothes during the possing action. This water could then leave the head through the holes around the edge of the upper part of the posser.