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The Caribbean in Black and White

This month's images were chosen by the Pepper Pot Centre, a social centre for African Caribbean elders in Ladbroke Grove, London.

Washing clothes


Hanging laundry in Port Maria

© Royal Geographical Society

Washing Clothes
Harry Johnston, 1908-9

© Royal Geographical Society

In Port Maria
Harry Johnston, 1908-9


"I am from Jamaica, St James and everywhere you go there you can find a big running river. Some places they have a place to go and swim, some places they have a part to go and wash clothes. And some place you have where you come to take the water from the spring to take home. And some places they have a pipe they run straight to your gate. If the men don't have a wife, don't have a woman or wife to wash their clothes they have to wash them themselves. No one's going to wash their clothes for them."

"You get a board or a stone. You dip the clothes in the water and put the soap on it. Most people have bar soap - you have to buy the soap that you cut, and then you rub it on the clothes, dip it in the water and scrub it on the board or on a stone rinse it again and hang it out to dry and put it on before you go home."

"We have what we call a clapper. We use it to beat - bang, bang to get the dirt off it."

"Some parts in the country the only source of getting your clothes washed is to take it to the river. Either you have to take the water home to to do a little bit of washing or you take the clothes to the river and wash them..scrub them on the stone and then you put the clothes in the sun to dry and to bleach...Generally you wash your clothes on 'Washday' and plenty, plenty people sometimes is gathered at the river. At one place on Penn River the tourists always gather to take picture of people down the river washing their clothes."