Thursday 5 December 2019

A whiter than white laundry terrace home in D14 for €645,000


The exterior
The exterior
The kitchen dining room
Mona Hearn's book
The living room
Views into the garden
A photo of the Dublin Laundry yard with electric van
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Those who charge that electric vehicles are not a practical option for Irish cities should consider that in the 60s and 70s, Dublin was buzzing with them.

Milk and bread was delivered each morning from electric vans run by firms like Hughes Brothers and Johnston Mooney & O'Brien. Most noticeable of all, the electric laundry vans of rival commercial laundries criss-crossed the city all day, collecting washing from private homes and businesses, ferrying it off to be washed, dried and pressed, and then returning it spring fresh. Rechargeable battery vans were more expensive to buy than petrol or diesel versions, but cleaner and cheaper to run.

It was a racing green livery for the Kelso of Rathmines, middle blue for the Dublin Laundry Co of Dartry/ Milltown and (perturbingly) bright red with a big swastika for the Swastika Laundry in Ballsbridge (branded in 1912, long before the German Nazi party).

Before every home got a washing machine, Dublin's commercial laundry firms fought it out for their share of our dirty undies and sheets, and they often got dirtier still in a bid to beat the competition.

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The kitchen dining room

In 1901, it was recorded that nine Catholic laundries and seven Anglican-owned institutions competed with one another. Reps from the big firms ployed managers of big hotels and institutions in order to entice their business away from rivals, often on religious grounds. The hard work, mostly done by women, was unforgiving and dangerous. Fourteen year olds worked 70-hour weeks with giant mangles and boiling vats in hot, steaming conditions that encouraged pulmonary illness especially.

Those who worked at Anglican-owned outfits were far better off than the unfortunates at the Catholic Magdalene locations run on unpaid slave labour. It was a sore point for other laundries, who also complained that the Magdalenes did not have to comply with the Factory Acts, which set working conditions and safety standards by law.

The best conditions were provided by Thomas Edmondson, a Quaker businessman who set up the Dublin Laundry Co at Dartry in Milltown in 1888. Edmondson's workers were far better paid, had medical care, good holidays and sometimes he provided housing, as outlined by Nora Hearn in her book Thomas Edmondson and the Dublin Laundry.

Mona Hearn's book

Thomas got into the business when his brother Hewetson, the boss of Dundrum's huge Manor Mills Laundry, died unexpectedly and Thomas took over on behalf of his widow. The Mills was located where the Dundrum Shopping Centre is today and partly comprised some of the stone cottages on site.

After being forced out of the Mills after a legal dispute in 1887, Thomas went into competition against it, setting up his Dublin Laundry Co in Dartry on the banks of the River Dodder just a mile down the road in 1888. By 1900, it had 300 workers. The two laundries employed vast numbers in the Milltown and Dundrum areas, and for a time, they competed for local workers. Both either built or bought homes in proximity.

Millmount Terrace is believed to have been built by one of the two firms in the early 1900s, most likely Edmondson's, given that it was closest and owned land adjoining. The Mills closed in the 40s and later became the Pye electrics factory. The Dublin Laundry, the Kelso and the Swastika all closed in the 80s. The Dublin Laundry's chimney remains and was sold last year for €136,000 as a commercial phone-mast investment.

The living room

While most of Millmount Terrace comprises two beds, No1 was likely constructed for a favoured manager, given that it is double-fronted and three/four bedroomed.

It was acquired by its current owners in a tired condition only three years ago after being rented for many years. They renovated and reconfigured the property to make the most of the space and conferred on it a bright-white and pastel colour scheme, all the way through. A picture window at the end of the hall allows natural light to flood through, whilst looking up, there is a vaulted ceiling adding character and additional light.

To the right is a family room/occasional fourth bedroom, and on the left, the living room runs from front to rear, with double doors leading out to a patio seating area in the rear garden. There is a large open-plan kitchen/dining room to the rear of the house, again overlooking the garden with doors to the patio, and contemporary kitchen units and fitted appliances. A utility/drying room, along with a guest WC complete the ground floor.

Views into the garden

Upstairs, the house has three double bedrooms, along with a white suite bathroom and generous landing space with a pull-down ladder to the attic. The master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and its own ensuite. A walled garden has the potential to offer off-street parking (subject to planning permission) with pedestrian side access leading to the enclosed rear garden.

The house is within walking distance of the Luas Green Line at both Milltown and Windy Arbour, the Dodder Linear Park and UCD.

Sherry FitzGerald seeks €645,000.

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