Swastika Laundry

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The Swastika Laundry was a laundry founded in 1912, located on Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, a district of Dublin, Ireland. It was founded by John W. Brittain (1872–1937) from Manorhamilton, County Leitrim who was one of the "pioneers of the laundry business in Ireland" having founded the Metropolitan and White Heather Laundries in 1899. He was also the owner of a famous horse called Swastika Rose which was well known "to frequenters of the Royal Dublin's Society's Shows".[1]

They used electric vans, that were painted in red with a black swastika on a white background,[2] to collect and deliver laundry to customers. The electric vans used by the Swastika Laundry were quite ahead of their time.[1]

In 1939, the laundry changed its name to "The Swastika Laundry (1912)"[3] to make clear the distinction between its use of the name and the symbol and the recent adoption of the symbol by the Nazi Party in Germany.

It ceased to exist as a separate company in the late 1960s when it was bought out by the Spring Grove Laundry company which occupied the same site in Ballsbridge.[4] but it continued to use the logo and name into the 1980s.[5]

Following the closure of the laundry, at least until the early 1987 the laundry chimney was emblazoned with a large white swastika that could be seen from many places in the surrounding area including the Merrion Road, a main road south from Dublin.

Spring Grove sold this property for redevelopment in the early 21st century during the Dublin property boom of the 1990s and 2000s as Ballsbridge was by then a popular and exclusive area of Dublin 4. An office development called "The Oval" was constructed on the site but the only reminder of the Swastika Laundry is a brick chimney, which is a protected structure. The chimney has been surrounded by the "oval" of the new development.

The use of the Swastika name for this company was as an ancient symbol of good luck in India; its name originates from the sanskrit svastika.[3]

In his "Irisches Tagebuch" the future Nobel Laureate, Heinrich Böll writes about a year spent living in the west of Ireland in the 1950s. While in Dublin, before heading to County Mayo, he…

"was almost run over by a bright-red panel truck whose sole decoration was a big swastika. Had someone sold Völkischer Beobachter delivery trucks here, or did the Völkischer Beobachter still have a branch office here? This one looked exactly like those I remembered; but the driver crossed himself as he smilingly signalled to me to proceed, and on closer inspection I saw what had happened. It was simply the "Swastika Laundry," which had painted the year of its founding, 1912, clearly beneath the swastika; but the mere possibility that it might have been one of those others was enough to take my breath away."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Swastika Laundry (1912–1987) « Come here to me!". Comeheretome.wordpress.com. Retrieved 22 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "Electric/Battery Powered Vehicles". Ask About Ireland. Retrieved 22 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Swastika chimney". The Irish Times (Dublin). 3 March 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2008. 
  4. ^ Spring Grove News Archive . Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Irish Journal" translated by Leila Vennewitz (Abacus, London, 1983) pp.21-2

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