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This 80-year old iron belonged to the late Edna Walcott who lived in the La Clery area of Castries, St Lucia. It now belongs to Vernesta Cyril OBE who, when visiting St Lucia after the death of her mother (Edna's sister), expressed an interest in the item. Edna shipped it to her niece in the UK shortly afterwards. Many St Lucia women used irons of this kind to make a living. They would offer a rapid laundry service to officers on the frigates moored in St Lucia's harbour - washing, drying, starching and ironing their white uniforms and returning them in pristine condition with perfect pleats ironed into the trousers. Many of the wealthy tourists who arrived on cruise ships also took advantage of this laundry service. The iron was first heated on the household fire. When it reached the ideal temperature it was wiped down with a cloth and the hard work began. The ironing itself usually took place on the kitchen table on top of a second cloth, with a third being placed on top of delicate materials like wool. Vernesta said the iron was important to her because it reminded her how hard people worked in those days. Most homes had no running water so the women would carry water from outside taps and wash the clothing by hand, using caustic blue or yellow-coloured bars of soap. There could be no delays because people needed their clothes back before they set sail again, sometimes the same day.

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