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Thursday, 27 April 2017

The ubiquitous Hills Hoist

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features someone hanging up washing. The line looks a bit like a Hills Hoist, except that it appears to be suspended upside down in some fashion.

I did a blog that included the history of the Australian Hills Hoist some time ago, which you can check out here, so consequently I don't have too many more relevant photos, but I did manage to find a few. It seems that often the ubiquitous washing line sneaks into the photograph even when it is not intended to. It certainly was always present in the back yard when we had young children, and almost always laden down with washing drying in the sunshine. Here are a few examples I found, not taken by me I must point out. These days of course it is very easy to crop out unwanted objects, but these are snaps from the 1980s, when a pair of scissors was normally the only tool available. Consequently if snaps with extraneous items in the background were not discarded, they slipped into albums unaltered.

This photo was taken on the occasion of our second son's first birthday party. It's possible that whoever took it was trying to make a point, ie. that the washing should not have been there in full view. I agree that if there had been other party guests attending that might have been a reasonable point, but in this case the only party guests were our children and my parents, so I probably didn't think it was essential to take down the nappies just for their benefit. I think there are also be some lemons there on the lawn, waiting to be taken inside. The previous owners had lived in the house for forty years and were great gardeners. We benefited from their work but with four young children by the time we moved on we could not keep up to their exacting standards, and sadly the neglected lemon tree was never quite as good as it had once been.

Here's the digitally cropped version. It's an improvement but I'm sure I have a few better shots of the birthday boy. 

Here is another shot that I clearly did not take. It was in one of my mother's albums and shows our elder daughter in her Brownie uniform and our youngest closely examining the grass, watched by a visiting cousin and myself. With the washing and various other objects in the background, it's not able to be cropped so neatly and is probably not one I would have saved, but this is of course the main subject of the photo, with just a couple of distractions in the background.

Here's a Hills Hoist intruding again, even without washing, this time in the in-laws' back garden, c. 1988.

but this one is easily removed.

In this last shot however, the washing line is central. I imagine I took this photo to show how my capable better half was able to manage child minding and hanging up washing at the same time, c 1987/88. He was doing a good job here.

For more blogs inspired by the prompt provided by Sepia Saturday #365, click here. That number could perhaps relate to the annual number of days the endless task of washing needs to be done, or at least contemplated, at least when there are young children in the family!


  1. A clever interpretation of this week' prompt photograph, with gorgeous photographs of your family, so easy to ignore the background. Photoshop has done wonders for improving our original shots!

  2. The Washing Looks Like Birthday Flags & Bunting ! Fine Photos Jo.

  3. See! You never know when those pictures with messy backgrounds will come in handy! You're smart. You save the originals along with the cropped versions and you've encouraged me now to do the same - just in case! That last shot with baby in carrier on Dad's back while he hangs out the laundry had me smiling. I had a carrier just like that and finally started using it not just for walks in the woods, but while I was doing things like washing the dishes and dusting, etc. because my son would cry when I'd put him down and turn my attention to doing the housework. Carrying him around on my back while I did my chores made all the difference in the world. It was a little harder to do them that way, but entirely worth the peace and quiet it achieved!

  4. Interesting to see your Hills Hoist - is it a coincidence I wonder that a major maker of rotary clotheslines in the UK is called Hills.

    1. The company now operates internationally so I imagine it is one and the same, having been originally started by Mr Lance Hill in South Australia.

  5. Never thought about the appearance of clotheslines in family shots before, but now you've got me looking! Three cheers to your husband doing House Father Chores...

  6. Love that last photo! Such skill for a man who was willing and able to do house husband work!