The British Laundry Marking Machine
- around 1922 in Surrey
Laundry marking machine, 'the British Marking Machine', made by A & C Jenner in Mitcham, Surrey, around 1922. Used at Moorside Laundry in Eccles from around 1922 to 1960.
This machine was used to mark laundry at Moorside Laundry in Eccles from around 1922 to 1960. Moorside Laundry’s customers ranged from domestic, to catering and hotel businesses, Granada TV, the prison service, abattoirs, drinks manufacturers, butchers, and hospitals, all on a collection and delivery basis. The business was set up by James Sinkinson Harrison in 1914, who purchased an existing laundry. It remained in the family until the 1980s, when it was sold. Derek Harrison, the last owner, was also Head of Laundry Technology at Hollins College, Manchester, now part of Manchester University.
The machine was used to mark each customer’s clothes or linen with a unique code, so that during the washing process, where different customers’ items would be washed together in industrial washing machines, upon completion they could be separated out and returned to the owner. An internal ink pad and roller system imparted the ink onto the selected numbers and letters, which were then stamped onto the fabric. Domestic customers as well as businesses would have had their laundry marked in this way. Domestic customers were probably those who did not have domestic servants, but who could afford to have their laundry sent out, rather than doing it by hand at home or at public wash houses. The laundry’s domestic customers began to decline following the advent of home washing and drying machines after the 1920s.
The British Marking Machine was patented by A & C Jenner in 1922. The company was based in Mitcham, Surrey, where the machines were made. The machines were in widespread use until the 1960s, including by the Royal Navy’s laundries, whose laundry manuals contain instructions on how to operate the British Marking Machine. After the 1960s, this marking system was replaced with a polymarking system, where a small label was applied by heat, which is still in use today.