Front Door Step

Did your family take pride in the front door step? Did your mother use a donkey stone or cardinal polish? Was your step the whitest on the street?

It was widely thought that you could judge a person by the door that they kept.

Regardless of the weather, the front door, steps and brass knocker had to be scrubbed and polished every week. Some people were paid a shilling or two for their hard work, while others had to do it as a household chore.

Followers of the Spring Chicken Facebook group have been sharing their memories:

At many terraced houses, the door was scrubbed clean each day and reddened, or whitened with pipe-clay or lime donkey stone. It was an arduous task (and particularly unpleasant on cold days) but was seen as an essential chore.

God help you if you stood on my mum’s step after she had donkey stoned it!

I remember my mum scrubbing the front step on a regular basis. I also remember mum doing lots of ironing on a Sunday evening. That’s after she had cooked a Sunday roast, followed by spotted dick and custard.

In the 50’s, when the streets were clean and litter free, everyone took responsibility for the front of their house. What little they had, they certainly took pride in. People were given a bucket, a scrubbing brush and a bar – or a donkey stone by the rag and bone man. If you had chores to do, you were not allowed to go out until they were complete.

There isn’t a lot that would have stopped members of the Spring Chicken community from cleaning their front steps:

My mother got married in 1952 and was scrubbing her front door step 30 minutes before the wedding.

I was washing my step hours before giving birth to my
first child

…Do you still scrub your front door step?

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