The classic livelihood in the 18th century - agriculture, viticulture, fishing and shipping - gradually declined, so that one had to make a living with new tasks. Presumably it was a long, flat entrance to the Rhine, which made washing easier on the banks of the Rhine in Beuel than on the opposite side of Bonn. Over time, Beuel became a laundry town with a large number of laundries. In 1902 there were 92 laundries. Today there are only four. The Beuel local history museum focuses on the history of laundries.
Working methods and means
The operation in the bleaching of the supplied screen was relatively simple, provided the weather was. The canvas spread out on the Beuel meadows on the Rhine was doused several times a day with Rhine water and thereby bleached under the influence of light and sun . Sometimes it was also necessary to "beat soft" stubborn canvas with a hammer on a large stone with a smooth outer surface.
The hammer, known as “flakes”, was also used by the washers to remove stubborn dirt left over from the Rhine after washing . During this washing (rinsing) in the Rhine, the laundry received the unmistakable smell for Beuel , which was called "Beuel fragrance". It goes without saying that this scent stuck to the white and colored laundry, even though the two species were treated in separate washing processes, because initially washing was carried out exclusively in the Rhine.
In Beuel, the laundry was first "buckled", i. H. stained with the ashes of charcoal ( potash ) from beech wood . The dirty laundry was soaked overnight in a large wooden box, the next day sprinkled with the charcoal ash and doused with hot water. After cooling, the water was drained through the bung at the bottom of the vat , collected and reheated. This process was repeated up to ten times and then the laundry was brought to the Rhine to be washed out.
The method of working with ashes was quickly replaced by soapy water made from soft soap . Repeated pickling of the laundry was no longer necessary. The laundry was brushed in a vat with a brush on a washboard. Then it came back to the Rhine, where it was washed, bleached and dried. The bleaching process was supported by using “ wash blue ” as an aid.
Later the soft soap was replaced by curd soap . It was cut into small pieces and later replaced with soap flakes. Then finally came the soap powder in the 90s, which still exists today alongside the new liquid detergents .
Due to the expansion of shipyards and the Rhine promenade, the Rhine meadows could no longer be used extensively. Because the washers were now only dependent on their property, they had saved the transport between the house and the banks of the Rhine, but now had the problem of removing the sewage. Until 1902 there was no public water pipe available to the scrubbers. The Beuel groundwater and later the tap water had a high proportion of lime and was therefore very hard. For this reason, as much soft rainwater as possible was collected.
In order to dry the laundry regardless of the weather , a roofed room was set up above the laundry room , which was mostly housed in an extension, with wall slits on both long sides so that there was enough draft to dry. When the laundry was bleached or dried, it was flattened (ironed) or ironed.
The ironing was done by pressing the laundry between two rollers that were moved by hand by a handle and thus smoothing it. The ironing took place with an iron, which was heated over a small oven ("Strichöffje"). Just as the wash blue gave the laundry a light sheen, the laundry items were given a certain firmness by the starch they were ironing. It was a small craft that wanted to be learned. For this reason, some laundries gave the starch laundry to "home ironers" who received piece wages.
After mangling and ironing, the finishing touches came: the items of laundry belonging to the respective customer were placed in a washing basket using the washing slip drawn up by the customer. The correctness of the information on these washing slips had already been checked when sorting the laundry before the washing process.
Mode of Transport
The laundries used the so-called " Schürreskarre " as a means of transport to bring their laundry to the Rhine. It was a one-wheeled cart , the loading area of which went over the wheel and had two “handle trees”. The handles were used for both steering and carrying the load. In the case of a heavy load, a shoulder strap was also used (sometimes: "Hälep").
The launderers also used the scraper barrow when they brought or delivered laundry in Bonn. The Gierponte (ferry) was big enough to accommodate this vehicle. If a launderer had his own sufficiently large boat, he was not dependent on the ferry. But this has not always been the case. At the beginning of the last century, the Beuel fishermen, who were later to be washers, only had so-called "three-wedges" that could not be picked up by a scraper. Since the scraper cart was getting too small due to the increasing amount of laundry, one went over to the plateau cart. This was also much more comfortable for crossing the already built Rhine bridge between Bonn and Beuel.
In contrast to its predecessor, the platform cart had two high wheels in the middle of the vehicle. A pull dog could also be harnessed in front of this cart, which made transport a little easier for people. On the plateau were the baskets filled with laundry, which were covered with a tarpaulin for protection. Later the transport was carried out by horse and cart.
Finally, there were also the laundry boats with which the laundry was transported between Beuel and Cologne from 1898 to the mid-1920s.