Hot Water to get into

There was no running hot water in the house of my childhood.  Hot water was obtained by boiling a whistling kettle on a gas stove.  Poured into a bowl in the sink, this gave hot water for the dishes after meals.  In the mornings before breakfast and school, hands and face were washed in cold water in the kitchen sink. 

Hot water for a bath or for laundry came from the 'copper.'  This was a large free-standing gas water heater in the kitchen.  It had a huge cylindrical copper tank, maybe 25-30 inches in diameter, on legs, and with a hemispherical bottom and a hinged lid.  It was filled by hand.  From the kitchen tap we would fill a bucket with cold water and carry it across to the copper.  It took many such buckets to fill it before we would light the gas ring below it.  It took a long time to heat up; I remember it as about an hour.

When the water was hot, it was transferred to a bucket using a zinc cylinder with a handle to ladle it out, and it took several to fill the bucket, and several buckets to fill the bath, located in a tiny room at the back of the kitchen.  The bath did have running cold water to cool the boiling water to a comfortable temperature.  A similar process was gone through when my grandmother, who raised me, needed to wash laundry.  I never appreciated at the time how many hours she must have spent doing it.

Luxury came when I was 14 years old.  An Ascot gas heater was fitted above the sink.  It gave instant hot water in a fairly thin stream, but it made washing hands and face more pleasurable, and made quick work of washing the dishes.