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Wells and Washing

By Donald A Mackay & Kirsty Macleod - Added 17/04/2014

Audio of Chirsty and her brother Donald Alex talking about the wells that provided them with water in the days before it came through pipes into their homes. Rachel also talks about washing and how they managed without washing machines. Dur:1.22


There aren't many wells to be seen today as we're used to getting fresh water at the turn of a tap, but before such luxury was available in The Bays you had to get your water from a well. It was hard work as the wells could be a distance away, and you had to carry every drop of water you needed for drinking, cooking, washing and, usually from a separate well, water for cattle too. However, people regarded it as part of their everyday life. They would also have to clean the well regularly to stop it from closing up, which is why there aren't many wells visible today, unless you know where to find them.

Wells would sometimes dry up if there was a prolonged dry spell in summer and, unless you had a neighbour whose well still had water, you'd have to start hauling water from the nearest loch.

There was a lot more effort involved in getting your laundry done then but homes were quite spotless nevertheless. When the good weather came in spring or early summer everything in the house that could be washed was turned out. After washing, the laundry was spread out on a grassy meadow to bleach in the sunshine. It would be folded and turned and once dry would have the loveliest perfume imaginable.

As Chirsty said, "They were as clean as a diamond."