114b - Pangs Laundry

A well remembered shop from the early 1960s. At a time when most families in East Bristol did not own a washing machine, the Chinese laundry was a great place to get your sheets cleaned. The dirty linen was handed in and you were then given a ticket which you took back a couple of days later, when the laundry would be ready for collection, washed, pressed and ironed. It would be wrapped up in brown paper and tied up with string. At the time of writing 114b is the Clark's Pie Shop.

Tung Pang writes: "In the early 1900s the first Chinese immigrants came from China (between the First and Second World Wars).

On all merchant ships it was a problem employing laundry men and cooks, Laundry men were a necessity as all officers had to look official in uniforms and white shirts. When they docked into Chinese ports they had no problem employing labour to do these jobs. My Father Hong Pang learnt his trade on a merchant ship laundering the officer's uniforms, after many years he had a reputation for good work. He arrived in England in 1914. He liked it here and he decided to settle, but the problem was what to do to support his family. Having experience in laundry this was the answer.

In the 1950s there were less than ten Chinese laundries in Bristol. In the 1960s before most households had washing machines, Chinese laundries were very busy, then we had natural fibres and linen sheets and tablecloths which were difficult to launder. The proprietor of the Church Road shop was my brother, another of the sons of Hong Pang senior.

All the laundry that was received was marked by hand with marking ink so that each customer was recognised by his or her laundry number, all the items brought would be marked, they would never get lost. Then it was sorted-shirts, sheets, underclothes etc. It was then taken to the washroom where it was washed by semi automatic machine, then taken to the drying room where it was dried naturally. Then it had to be damped by hand, and pressed. All flat work would be pressed on a semi automatic roller, but shirts had to be ironed by hand with a flat iron 10lb in weight. Staff would have to work 16 hours a day to ensure the customers could collect the laundry on Saturday, today we would call that slave labour.

In those days the police, prison officers, military people, office workers all wore detached collars so each day they would change the collar but not the shirt. (Chinese laundries had a reputation for polishing detached collars). That is what had to be done just to earn a living. That is one of reasons why the next generation did not expand what their fathers had developed. That and the advent of drip-dry shirts and the washing machines in most homes."

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