This film is part of Free

Winchester Laundry

Observe these Winchester women working in a local laundry - it's a glimpse into how things were before the Clean Air Act

Amateur film 1950 1 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


William John Prall's short but historically interesting film starts at the entrance to a laundry in Winchester. We see large laundry vans waiting. Next we see a trio of young women chatting in a sunlit garden before entering the murky gloom of the laundry. In the shadows, we can see large numbers of women wearing white overalls laundering and ironing clothes using steam presses.

This film captures everyday scenes in what were once known as the 'dirty industries' – a term which described those industries that either created smoke pollution or dealt with its consequences. Laundries, as a cleaning industry, fell into the latter category. William John Prall, who made the film, was a watchmaker and jeweller who set up a business in Winchester. He had access to various locations throughout the city in order to wind and repair clocks, including the Guildhall, the Police Station and the Winchester Laundry seen here. Despite losing an eye in the Great War, he was a keen photographer and filmmaker and would show his films to village audiences in the locale.