Your memories of Luxdon laundry

Salesmen Jim Trotter, left, and Arthur Graham, right with Florence Howey, joint managing director, and chairman J K Lumsden-Taylor.
Salesmen Jim Trotter, left, and Arthur Graham, right with Florence Howey, joint managing director, and chairman J K Lumsden-Taylor.

Back in its heyday, Luxdon laundry was a huge employer in Sunderland.

It’s no surprise that lots of you remembered it when we posted a photograph on social media and asked for your recollections.

General Manager and director Charles Gowland checks the progress of another load of washing.

General Manager and director Charles Gowland checks the progress of another load of washing.

We reached 30,000 people and many of them told us when they worked there.

That included Graeme Jobson who said: “I worked there from 82-86. Started as a van boy and went on to be a driver when I passed my test.”

Another van boy was Alan Ramsey, who worked there between 1966 and 1974 before moving on to carpet cleaning.

For lots of people, it was their first job, including Ann Pattison, who said: “I worked there when I first left school, so did my sister June. I worked on shirts with Sue Peverley and Sue Martin.”

Remember the place as if it was today. Shame it closed down. Loved it there

Glenn Thompson

Dave Kaigg said: “Served my apprenticeship as electrician there, 1963-1970 with Eddie Embleton, Ronnie Lamph, Arthur Burlinson, Ted Cooke, and George Bell. Found Jimmy Taylor a great boss to get on with. Have great memories of that time.”

Elaine Mckenzie said she “left school on the Friday in 1984 and started on the Monday”.

Luxdon Laundry had its origins in 19th century Sunderland, when two sisters, the Misses Ramage, opened a laundry at Smyrna Place in 1887.

The firm was then shaken up by businessman James Taylor – Jimmy’s grandfather – who married a sister and moved the factory to larger premises.

The finishing room in 1984.

The finishing room in 1984.

By the 1930s, County Laundry and Dye Works was doing roaring business at another base, Wycliffe Road in High Barnes.

The firm’s popularity only grew by the time of the Second World War when it processed 10,000 bundles of soldiers’ clothing each week, as well as 5,000 household bundles and dry cleaning.

We got loads of comments from people who worked there and they also included Nicola Wallace, who said: “This was my first job.”

Victoria Rate did her work experience there in 1996. She added: “My uncle Ed Embleton worked here and my Auntie Tracy Embleton. I loved it when I did my work experience here xxx.”

Lots of you learned the trade through work experience at Luxdon’s including Pauline Robison Coffey.

Debra Gail Pattison worked at the Central laundry on Fulwell Road which amalgamated with Luxdon, she said.

And Norma Gowland told us: “My father-in-law was Charles Gowland who worked his way from laundry boy to director/manager till his retirement in 1981. He loved every minute there.”

By the early 2000s, the firm had been sold to a new concern and by 2007, it had closed.

But a story ten years ago told how the name of Luxdon was to live on after being snapped up by a County Durham firm which planned to offer laundry services in Sunderland.

Thanks also to Fiona Carter Butler Cooper who said: “My dear late mother-in-law Marjorie Cooper worked there for years in the offices, bless her. I can still see her in her blue overall.”

Kevin Bee was there “when it went under in 2007” and said: “I worked there for about six years.”

Sue Fletcher told us that her mam “worked at the Luxdon in Houghton, Ethel Heron or Shields as she was then x”.

And Hilary Lamming commented: “My Mam worked there as a machinist in the early 70s till early 80s, we lived round the corner!”

Stephen Holst “worked there 1979 till 1982 and went back in 2000 till 2007 when it closed”.

Olwyn Willoughby told us: “My mam worked there, Olive Mary McCormack. She worked the pressers. I think in the 50s.”

Glenn Thompson commented: “Remember the place as if it was today. Shame it closed down. Loved it there.”

And Valerie Olley had a slightly different tale to tell. She said: “I lived up the street to the laundry and when I walked past, you used to see the staff working very hard.”

Joan McGuinness was a repair hand in the 1950s while Sue Hughes said: “That was my first job after leaving school.”

Jane Swinhoe’s grandfather was a driver for the firm and Carol Taylor said: “I worked there from 96 to 2007, hard work tho x.”

Thanks to everyone who responded.

Email your memories to chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk