Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Housing and Domestic Life

"I slept really badly last night - our Hannah kept kicking me. There's four of us girls in bed now, but mam promised a new bed for me and Kitty to share. Mam said we're lucky, when she were a lass they all lived in one room. At least we've got three, but I'd still like a bathroom, I hate having to go to Lockwood Baths every week for a wash."


Black and white photo showing Windsor Court, Huddersfield - small terraced houses fronting straight onto the pavement.
Windsor Court, Huddersfield

Housing conditions for some children in Victorian times were very harsh and the equipment available to help with everyday household duties was not as developed as it is today. Homes like the ones shown on this page (in Windsor Court and Sykes Yard) would have no bathroom and would have outdoor toilets (privvies) and a standpipe (tap) in the street for water.


Black and white photograph showing small children playing in Houses in Sykes's Yard, Huddersfield.  There is what looks like an open drain in the street.
Houses in Sykes's Yard, Huddersfield

Most people would go to the local baths to have a weekly wash.


However, the local baths began to be used more often for sport and leisure rather than just hygiene.

Washing clothes was an all day task for which girls were often kept off school.

Wooden frame with a ridged glass panel in the middle
Victorian Washboard

Look at the picture of the washboard and have a guess as to how it would be used to wash clothes.

If your family couldn't afford to buy a rug for the floor, you might make a 'rag-rug' which was made from rags and bits of cloth.

Rag made from multi-coloured scraps of material
Rag Rug

How do you think your family home would manage without running water, a bathroom or a toilet?