First Successful Steamship Laundry (1905)

The Celtic Sails On An Excursion Voyage With A Fully Equipped Laundry Plant On Board.

Through the courtesy of the agent of the White Star Line, I was presented with entree credentials, carte blanche, to Mr. Palmer, the genial and courtly purser of the Celtic. Mr. Palmer chances to be a typical Britisher, ruddy of cheek, with robustness of frame, steady of speech and with just sufficient of the in evitable English rising inflection at the ending of his sentences to remind one for the moment of “Merry England”—of London and a stroll through Regent Street.

Doubtless many times has the idea been dreamed of, and most fondly and earnestly hoped for, but never before has the realization been fully materialized, of the absolute equipping and installing on board an ocean steamer a full—fledged modern American steam laundry plant. From today, the steam laundry enters upon a new epoch in its eventful history.

The rapid strides of progress from the stone age of the pounding ball to mid-ocean steam laundry work is not only startling, but a proposition and fact not quit easy for one’s imagination to digest. The laundry is located on the fourth deck, with ample space for large extension when increase of Work demands more machinery.

The plant consists of a trio of 200 shirt washers, body ironers, centrifugal wringers, fifteen-rack dry closet, shirt and collar ironing machinery and two Poland mangles. Hand irons are heated by electricity. The total number of employees required to run this plant are forty people, all of whom arrived bright and early this morning in high feather and eager for the voyage.

All the employees are skilled operators, called from the Boston laundries and selected with a view to their peculiar fitness for wide and varied range of work. Beside the fiat work department, there is a complete bundle work outfit, comparing favorably with any terra firma laundry in the country.

The Celtic will carry in her linen room 40,000 pieces of table and bed linen as reserve, hence there cannot possibly occur any necessity for hurried work. The following price list will be of interest, for as would naturally be supposed, the prices would be excessive.

On the contrary, they are exceedingly reasonable, considering the blessing to be derived by the passengers in this undreamed—of accommodation, and positive surety on the part of the management that the driver will not run away, or occasionally purloin a collar and cuff and shirt from the bundles.
Following is the printed list:
The Creamer-Wing Laundry Company On Board the Steamship Celtic

  • Collars : 1/2 d
  • Cuffs:  1/2 d
  • Shirts, plain: 7 d
  • Shirts with collars:  9 d
  • Shirts with collars and cuffs: 10 d
  • Skirts:    1 to 4s
  • Underskirts:  5 d
  • Drawers: 5 d
  • Handkerchiefs : 1/2 d
  • Hose:  3                d
  • Nightshirts: 6 d
  • Pressing pants:  1 s


  • The manager will be at the laundry office at 10 a. m. daily, for the settlement of accounts and business connected with the laundry.
  • Linen will be collected daily at 10 a. m. from the stateroom corridors, but may be sent at any time to the laundry.
  • In case of error, this list is to be returned to the manager.
  • Not responsible for fastness of colors.
  • Passengers going inland at either Alexandria or Jaffa may leave their linen for delivery on return.
  • Passengers’ linen will be received up to two days before arrival at Naples for delivery on arrival.
  • Passengers’ linen left at Naples will be ready on return from Rome.
  • Passengers’ linen will be received up to two days before arrival at Liverpool for delivery on arrival.

One who has not landed at some foreign port after a long and tempestuous voyage with trunk and grips filled with linen soiled and mussed can but feebly appreciate the feeling of anxiety experienced in vainly searching on his arrival for a quick time laundry.

But behold! All things have become new. The “sun do move,” and progressive American laundrymen are at your beck and call; it matters not if you travel by “ships that pass in the night” or fly with birds in the air, the Rubicon is passed; you simply breathe the desire, and presto! Your laundry work is finished—while you slumber.

The Celtic is 700 feet long; her beam is 75 feet; depth, 49 feet; she is 20,800 tons gross and 13,650 tons net; her displacement at load draught of 36 feet and 6 inches will be 37,700 tons; dead-weight carrying capacity, 18,400 tons.  She has accommodations for 3,000 passengers, besides quarters for a crew of 350. A most complete cold storage plant, capable of holding 85 tons of fresh beef, 60 tons of potatoes, 5 tons of fresh fish, 10 tons of sugar and 80,000 fresh eggs, is of the most improved and modern pattern.

The Celtic sailed for the Mediterranean Sunday morning, February 8, at high noon, with 850 passengers, booked for the round trip, to anchor again in New York April 23, 1902.

"First Successful Steamship Laundry," in The Modern Laundry Guide: A Collection of the Best Articles Published in the National Laundry Journal During the Past Two Years.  Chicago: The National Laundry Journal, Part 1: The Laundry Business, Equipment, Management, Processes. 1905: P.27-30

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