The old washing place in Gorliz was partially restored in 2022.
Throughout the 20th century, this washing place was witness to the experiences and testimonies of the women of Gorliz in their laundry work.
Washing clothes has been a woman’s work necessary to maintain the quality of life and health of the population throughout history for centuries.
RECOVERY OF THE MEMORY OF THE GORLIZ WASHING PLACE
For this purpose, water from streams and springs was used and washing places were built, where clothes were washed and rinsed before being hung out to dry. Clothes and sheets were spread out on bushes to dry.
It used to be done on one day of the week or month, for which the whole process was destined.
Rectangular in shape, stone construction predates brick and cement construction.
The washstones were real stone slabs, which were later replaced by washboards.
The washing places have been true centres for women’s social relations while they carried out their work, sharing experiences. They were public spaces in which women carried out a task of great importance for the cleanliness and care of the population.
What was the washing place in Gorliz like?
The Gorliz washhouse consisted of two different parts: one, more main and roofed, and the other in the outside area for more domestic services. The covered area had as many as six stones or laundry stalls, against which to beat and scrub clothes. The large basin received its water from a tank located in a corner of the large basin, which in turn received it from the Gazatza stream that rises in the lower part of Villaranda. This area, covered with a concrete slab, had an opening in its centre through which the sun shone through and illuminated the whitewashed walls, making it a well-lit and pleasant space. The outside area, separated by a wall and facing the beach, consisted of a small basin in which four people could wash. However, this smaller part was used for other types of services and needs. During the months of slaughtering the pigs, the women cleaned and prepared the internal parts of the intestines and stomachs, where they would stuff the black puddings and “odolostes” that were made. Work clothes and dirtier clothes were also washed in this small area. The water and the waste that was produced was carried by the river to the bridge in the middle of the beach. Years later, automatic washing machines put out of use these rustic laundries that provided so many services. (Pedro Elorriaga Urtiaga).
In Gorliz, in the houses where there was a “patin”, there was no need to go to the laundry room, and then, with the arrival of washing machines in the houses, it was no longer used. Not all the villages had washing places. Where there were, as in Gorliz, and although it has not survived in its entirety, it is only fair to vindicate it as an architectural element of great interest necessary for the safeguarding of historical memory. Their importance in the history and life of the village of Gorliz must not be forgotten.
Moreover, let us not forget that many women in the world today continue to wash in streams and washing places, while sharing all kinds of emotions and experiences.