Sheffield history: Showers and hot water have always been a luxury - never to be taken for granted.

Over the years taking a shower or a bath have become an extremely normal part of daily life,even now I try not to take them for granted.

By Errol Edwards
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 1:43 pm

A flick of a switch and we can boil a kettle or turn on the tap and we have hot running water – this wasn’t always the case.

As a child of the 60s and 70s I grew up in a home with no ‘indoor plumbing’ as they say.

We lived in the Pitsmoor area of Sheffield surrounded by rows and rows of terraced houses.

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Terraced houses, with sash windows

It was a style replicated throughout the city, homes with poor plumbing, but great communities – I always thought.

I’m not sure what age I had my first shower. We never had a bathroom until I was 11 like many of my contemporaries, and even then we didn’t have a shower installed.

Even when I went to local swimming baths, on Sutherland Road I never took a shower, I’m not even sure they had them.

But as a five or six year old I didn’t see the relevance of taking a shower before and after getting into the biggest bath you’d ever seen.

Comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in the sketch A Spot Of Trouble in 1952

But now I realise it would have been nice to get the chlorine, and its smell off my skin before I went home.

Although we didn’t have a bathroom in our home we did have a large tin bath in our tiny offshoot kitchen.

This was covered up during the week with a wooden board, until bath night on Sunday evening, during Songs of Praise if you were lucky.

I never came across anyone else who had a large iron bath in their offshoot kitchen, but as children we never knew any difference, so was never fazed by any of it.

Bath time fun and tears for young twins Martin and Peter Thompson

I remember those daily ablutions were carried out in the kitchen. We all had our own individual washing bowls and flannels for a morning and evening wash. I'm glad those days are in the past.

We never had the pleasure of getting the tin bath off the nail, in the wall in our backyards,and plonking it in front of the coal fire, filling it from the kettle.

Bath night was always warm in our tiny offshoot kitchen.

If I remember correctly, mom or dad would put the gas cooker on to warm it up.

Another luxury we didn’t acquire until I was nearly a teenager was central heating, and double glazing, no more freezing rooms or ice on the inside of our sash windows, or rattles when the wind blew.

It's surprising how quickly you get used to the comfort and warmth gas, electricity and double glazing provides.

We can now sit in any room in the home in relative comfort, homes now are so comfortable we can’t tell how severe the weather is outside.

I remember sitting inches away from the gas fire and still being cold in our living room.

Then the long trudge to our freezing bed rooms, even worse if our hot water bottles hadn’t been filled.

Baths, showers and central heating have now become such a part of normality for most, but with the continual shock rises in gas and electricity prices, I sincerely hope baths and showers don’t suddenly become a Sunday night event.