Workday Wednesday: Into the Laundry Business

The photograph below shows the staff of the New Century Laundry in Turnpike Lane, Hornsey,  London.  The laundry was owned by my great great grandfather, John Thomas Mason,  in the early 1900s.  A trade directory of the time states that the proprietors were Mason and Winchester, and the addresses were 35 Turnpike Lane , Hornsey, London;3 Charlotte Terrace, Tottenham Lane, Hornsey, and the works were at 63a Turnpike Lane, Hornsey.

From The London Gazette, I discovered that Mr Winchester was Alexander James Winchester, and in 1906 the partnership between him and John Thomas Mason was dissolved “by mutual consent”. John Thomas Mason was to be responsible for all debts due and owing to the business.

In 1971 the photograph was published in the local newspaper, The Hornsey Journal, with the added information that the laundry was “at the rear of the shops in Turnpike Lane”.

new centuryThe owner of the photograph, a Mrs Woolford, had sent it to the paper, hoping that people would get in touch if they had any further information.  I wonder if anyone did contact her?

Further searching in The London Gazette provided the information that before 1893,  John Thomas Mason had been in partnership with Francis Joseph Bell and Arthur Tavener, running a laundry business called the New Era Laundry at Thane Villas, Seven Sisters Road. This partnership was dissolved in May 1898, with Mr Bell and Mr Tavener taking responsibility for the debts.

A few years before this, Mr Mason had been in partnership with John Samuel Tearle and Francis Joseph Bell, being Laundry Proprietors at  French Laundry, Ramsgate and Beach House Laundry, Westgate on Sea, both in Kent.  The business name was Mason, Tearle and Co.  This partnership was dissolved in August 1895.

In 1891, John Thomas Mason lived in Cairns Road, Battersea. He was at that time the proprietor of The Royal Bolingbroke Laundry in Wandsworth.  There was a receiving shop/office in Northcote Road and the works was in Cairns Road. Apparently  the laundry  had a royal warrant to the Prince of Teck, but so far I’ve not had any luck finding out more about it.  A family story says that my great grandfather and his brother started a fire which caused the laundry to burn down, but I can find no confirmation of this!

The New Century Laundry  appears to have been a fairly thriving business, judging by the number of women and girls in the photograph – there are at least 30 that I can see, and I suspect there are more who aren’t visible as the photo seems to have been cropped.

I have another photo which is said to show The Beach House Laundry in Westgate on Sea.   That will be the subject of another post!

About familyhistoryfootsteps

I have been researching my family history for several years. I'm particularly interested in social history and enjoy learning about, and trying to understand the context of our ancestors' lives. From the mid 1800s onwards most of my direct ancestors lived and worked in London.
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2 Responses to Workday Wednesday: Into the Laundry Business

  1. Yvonne says:

    In 1891, the Prince of Teck was HH Francis, Duke of Teck (1837-1900), husband of HRH Princess Mary Adelaide of Great Britain (Queen Victoria’s cousin) and father of the future Queen Mary (George V’s wife). I checked the Royal Warrant Holders Association website (, but it deals only with RW holders for HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales. Perhaps if you contact the RWHA you might get some information about holders of past royal households.

  2. Jill Bridges says:

    John Thomas Mason was my Grandfather, I am his son Laurence’s daughter. I was lead to believe that he also ran a laundry in Brighton, it was in a fire at that laundry that his second wife perished.

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