Cleaning in Roman Britain – What have the Romans ever done for us?

In the classic film Life of Brian, John Cleese posed the question to his colleagues “What have the Romans ever done for us?

Well apart from introducing:

Aqueducts, Sanitation, Roads, Irrigation, Medicine, Public Baths, Education, Freshwater System, Wine, Safety and Peace.

Not a lot really!

When the Romans invaded our shores in AD43 they really changed just about everything, because they were not impressed with how the British people lived at all. They must have thought the Brits were an uncouth, smelly and uncivilized ragtag race that really needed sorting out.

For starters the Romans built an excellent network of straight paved roads across the country, built brick and stone buildings and taught the British how to speak the Roman language – Latin. Much of the English language today is based on Latin. Britannia itself is a Latin name.

In terms of Architecture, many of our towns and cities in Britain today, imitate the buildings of the Roman world. For example the world’s largest Indian restaurant (Akash) in Cleckheaton near Bradford has a very impressive Roman front with large fluted columns, however  the staff in this excellent Indian eatery, do not wear togas.

BATHING & CLEANING

In terms of bathing and cleaning, the Romans really earned their laurels. They believed that good health came from bathing, eating, massages and exercise. Many Roman Citizens would  bathe frequently during the week.

The Romans saw bathing as a social activity as well as a way of keeping clean. Whilst the wealthiest of Romans would have their own bathing facilities in their villas, most Romans would prefer to bathe in a communal setting where business deals were often sealed. How civilized is that? – imagine doing all your business deals whilst sweating your socks off in a hot steamy room or Calarium.

Areas in Britain which had natural hot springs became ideally suited for baths such as the town of Buxton in Derbyshire (also known for excellent bottled water) and the city of Bath in Somerset.

Other communal baths were reliant on water, which was transported by pipes or by an aqueduct. The ingenious Romans then developed the forerunner to our central heating system or Hypocaust system which was used effectively in their villas.

How convenient it was in those days, when wealthy Romans would conveniently use the human energy of slaves to power their central heating, as opposed to using natural gas to switch on our boilers in our double glazed homes today.

CLEANING IN ROMAN BRITAIN

Larger Roman baths were called Thermae. An ingenious idea that could perhaps be viewed as the model for the modern day version of Centre Parcs with thousands of bathers – although in Roman times, the bathers would be mostly male.

CLEANING WITH STRIGILS

In Ancient Roman and Greek cultures, the strigil was used for cleansing the body by scraping off dirt, perspiration and oil that was applied before bathing. Sounds a bit painful to me. However these handy metal objects were also extensively  used by male athletes. The standard design was a curved metal blade and they were often found in tombs with a bottle of oil.

Other so called cleaning procedures in Roman times, such as using urine to loosen dirt from clothes (before it was washed) have not survived  the modern way of cleaning today – unless of course you are Bear Grylls.

VISITING A ROMAN BATH

In Roman times the communal Roman bath would be arranged as follows.

  1. Changing Room – place to undress clothes with some slaves to assist
  2. Tepidarium (warm room) place to relax and unwind
  3. Calarium (hot steamy room) – place for body to sweat

In this area, slaves would rub perfumed oil over the body of their master, then scrape off with a Strigil

  1. Frigidarium – cold bath to swim in

Many modern spas throughout the world are based on this model, including the beautiful baths in Bath itself.

So next time you have a hot bath, and contemplate the hot soapy suds near your toes, just ponder – if the Romans hadn’t invaded our shores, us Brits wouldn’t be as clean as we are today.

 

Following a fantastic year, ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Guildford took the Management team for a social event to show thanks to the team and further build team spirt.

The fixture was Guildford Flames vs Coventry Blaze on Sat 12th Jan 2019

It was a great event and a good opportunity to stop talking all things Office Cleaning and get behind one of the local teams here in Guildford, sadly Guildford lost on this occasion but ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Guildford will be back to show support soon.

 

The Managing Director Siva Kugathas over at ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Guildford & Thames Valley joined in with the nation hosting a Macmillan coffee morning for the staff in his team and other staff within his office building.

There were fun little games like “Place The Cherry on The Gateau” and guess the weight of the cake, along with more cake and coffee than a supermarket, it ended up being a fun morning, with some full stomachs!

Siva, the management team, some friends and the ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services brand manager, Guy Strang raised the grand total of £300.22.

I’m sure this is something they will do next year and after hearing how much fun the team had, and how much money was raised other ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services teams around the country will do the same next year also.

ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Guildford has another podcast on Eagle Radio, have a listen to find out what Guy Strang – Brand Manager for ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services has to say about us and the Contract Services network.

Click the logo to listen to the Podcast.

Eagle Radio pod cast

ServiceMaster Clean Guildford, is a franchise of ServiceMaster, owned and managed by Siva Kugathas for just the last 18 months, the business continues to go from strength to strength.

ServiceMaster Clean Guildford provides commercial cleaning services for doctor surgeries, veterinary practices, car showrooms, sport stadiums, offices, factories and schools throughout Guildford, Woking and Farnham.

Siva collected Rookie of the Year, Sales Growth and his employee Kinga Derenowska picked up Employee of the Year at the Summer Summit conference for ServiceMaster limited held in June of this year.

“To pick up these three awards despite only being in business a short length of time is fantastic. I am thrilled, we all are.” Commented Siva

“I chose to nominate Kinga for Employee of the Year as this year she really has gone above and beyond. Kinga started as an office admin worker and her main responsibility was doing Payroll and Accounts. She was not responsible for recruitment or any other operational duties. However, she saw that I needed help and took it upon herself to help during her own spare time.

“We grew from 17 employees on payroll when I took over the business to 79 in just 11 months and Kinga has always been on hand wherever needed in the business. I truly believe CS Guildford wouldn’t have grown this much so soon, without the commitment and help from Kinga” Finished Siva

Picking up one award is an achievement, but to collect three in the first year of business is outstanding.

The Team have been busy at ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Guildford, we have been helping our local radio station Eagle Radio promote ‘National Clean your floors day’

View our video of Siva teaching presenter Peter Gordon how to clean floors the ServiceMaster Way.

Siva Kugathas (43), of Sutton, spent 20 years working in senior franchise roles, for both Pizza Hut and KFC in both the UK and Europe before choosing to invest in the Guildford-based, commercial cleaning franchise, ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services (CS Guildford). Siva was responsible for creating KFC’s UK Operations Service Manual and achieved the Restaurant Manager of the Year award in 1997.

CS Guildford currently turns over £138,000 and employs 30 staff but Siva aims to double this size of the company and his over the next 18 months. The company provides daily office and commercial cleaning services to businesses across the region and is part of the ServiceMaster franchise network, which has been trading in the UK since 1959.

Siva said: “There’s huge potential for this company and we’re looking forward to seeing rapid growth by adding new clients and by bringing in and developing new staff. The support from ServiceMaster has been excellent and I’m excited to get up and running and working with our new and existing clients.”

Guy Strang, brand operations manager, ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services UK added: “Siva’s experience and passion for providing an excellent customer service is second to none and we’re confident CS Guildford will grow rapidly, bringing wealth and jobs to the Guildford area.”

CS Guildford was founded in 1992 and is part of a national network of 68 licensed office cleaning businesses.

Two Yorkshire-based commercial cleaning franchise owners are taking part in their second Longest Day Golf Challenge, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Adam Marcham and Clive Jones of ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Huddersfield and Bradford, respectively, will take part in the challenge at Meltham Golf Club, which is situated against the Pennine Hills, near to Huddersfield on June 22nd and are aiming to raise over £500 in the process. During the feat, the duo will complete 72 holes, walking over 24 miles, taking more than 600 shots between them.

Adam Marcham, general manager, ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Huddersfield, said: “This is the second time we’ve taken part in this challenge and whilst it’s hard work, it’s all for a great cause. We’re hoping to raise over £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support and taking donations on our Just Giving page.”

Clive Jones, director, ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Bradford, added: “We’ve been practicing our games in preparation; our clubs are ready, golf balls are stocked up and we’re raring to go. It’s just the impact on the ol’ knees that you can’t prepare for!”

Adam and Clive are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support via their Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/servicemasteryorkshire.

On a wet Sunday afternoon recently, my daughter suggested our family should watch a DVD of the film The Young Victoria. As usual, I had no say in the matter, because I would normally like watching sport, and I thought I was going to be bored stiff for two hours. Despite my early trepidation I actually enjoyed watching the film, because it completely changed my perception of Queen Victoria. My previous view of this long lived monarch was of a small, feisty and bossy person, who didn’t smile a lot and liked to dress in black clothes.  In contrast to my early opinion, the film The Young Victoria successfully dispelled the myth of her being a sombre Queen, but in a fact convinced me she was a confident and strong willed person with a warm heart.  I also found out during my research that she never actually said “We Are Not Amused”. Her enduring romance with the young Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was very enchanting.  After their marriage in 1840 they were truly devoted to each other, until Albert’s untimely death in 1861. After this, Queen Victoria was grief stricken for many years.

Queen Victoria was queen of Great Britain for 63 years – to date, the second longest than any other British monarch (Queen Elizabeth II is currently the longest) Victoria’s reign saw great cultural expansion; advances in industry, science and communications; and the buildings of railways and the London Underground. She died in England in 1901.

In terms of cleaning and sanitation, the Victorian period underwent fundamental change, particularly with the expansion of industry and the growth of cities.

CREATING A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT IN THE WORPLACE AND HOME

The Industrial Revolution in the Victorian saw rapid change, whereby Britain became an economic powerhouse. Some enlightened industrialists realised they would get better productivity from their workers if they created a clean and safer workplace and a decent place to live.

Cleaning in Victorian Britain

One notable example was the creation of Bournville by members of  the Cadbury family in Birmingham in the latter part of the 19th century  They were successful in creating a model village, whereby the factory workers could live in well built houses and charge a low rent.

Another  fine example was the creation of Salts Mill and the adjoining  Saltaire village (near Bradford) developed by the Sir Titus Salt in 1853. The village of Saltaire still exists today, and is now recognised by UNESCO for its cultural heritage.

VICTORIAN VALUES – GOOD CLEANING LIVING

Self-improvement, hard work and progress were of paramount importance to Victorian Britain. Due to the growth of the middle class and increasing wealth through industry, social values changed considerably.  Home, hearth and family life became central to well-being, while there was a great desire to raise living standards.  The  Victorian household was a place where the family would congregate around the piano and sing songs.  Domesticity was a virtue encouraged in all women and a middle class wife absorbed herself in home- making or genteel pursuits such as needlework and reading. The rise of the middle class meant domestic servants (mostly women) would do the bulk of household chores including cooking the family meal or cleaning.

Personally speaking I am not sure my own family could hack the Victorian lifestyle, although to be perfectly honest it would probably do them no harm at all, and detox themselves from social media – imagine that!

HOW TO KEEP CLEAN THE VICTORIAN WAY – THE STAND UP WASH

We all love to have a quick shower in the morning. A quick nip and out of the shower cubicle, followed by a drying off with a towel and Bob’s your uncle – a nifty way of keeping clean and energy efficient as well.

In much of the 19th century, personal cleaning was very eco-friendly. This included the Victorian period, whereby personal hygiene was highly valued. The Stand Up Wash was commonly used by rich and poor alike, whether with hot or cold water.

 ITEMS USED FOR STAND UP WASH

  1. BOWL
  2. PAIL
  3. FLANNEL
  4. SOAP
  5. JUG OF HOT WATER (COLD WATER OPTIONAL)

METHOD OF STAND UP WASH 

  1. Pour small amount of water into the bowl.
  2. Dip the flannel into the water then wring out.
  3. Apply soap and scrub the body – one section at a time.
  4. Scrub, rinse and dry each part of the body before moving to the next.
  5. Dispose the dirty water in the pail.

This method of self-cleaning  allowed a person to remain almost fully dressed whilst washing because each area of the body was undressed, washed and re-dressed before the next was exposed.  Cleaning with style and such decorum!

PERSONAL  CLEANING PRODUCTS

In the Victorian era, personal hygiene underwent a quiet revolution. Louis Pasteur in 1860 demonstrated at the start of 1860’s that decay was caused living organisms present in the air, so if germs were everywhere, then cleaning became more important than ever.  A clean body neither generated bad airs nor harboured germs.

Carbolic acid remained one of the most popular disinfectants. Sold in liquid and powdered form at pharmacist’s shops, but also pre-mixed with soap , it offered a way of cleaning that went beyond looking and smelling pleasant. It’s own distinctive smell, came to mean ‘clean’ in the new, sterile sense of the world. A personal maid who smelt of carbolic soap came to be one who could be trusted and were more employable.  Today, a similar product would be Coal Tar soap, manufactured by Wright’s. The active ingredient would be tea-tree oil.

More to follow soon.