According to what I know, in Europe there was allways common to have public water tanks like this (or quite similar) so that people could wash their clothes. Again, in Europe, these water tanks got very common and popular somewhen around the 18th century when Europe’s population grew significantly (especially in towns and cities) fruit of the enrichment brought by the colonization.
In Portugal these were still pretty much used in the rural world until the mid 90’s not because people couldn’t afford to buy a waching mashine, but because to frequent a place like this would mean not just to wash the clothes but as well to meet with other people and know the latest local news and especially because to buy a washing machine in the rural world it was seen as a “bourgeois” atitude of a bad and lazy house wife. Fortunately those days are over, though aparently there is still someone who was using this one recently…
This tank was built just by the Valença’s old city walls (by the medieval facilities for watering the horses and nobility’s bath), using the medieval water system that still works today as you can see.
Want to know how it used to be? See this (in Portuguese but worth for the images)
Valença – Portugal
Canon EOS 550D + 50mm lens + CPL filter
f3.5 opening / 1/320 sec exposure
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