Swastika Laundry

The Swastika Laundry was an Irish business founded in 1912, located on Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, a district of Dublin. Due to its name and logo being associated with the Nazi Party in Germany, the name was changed in 1939 but their logo endured.

Swastika Laundry, main entrance, in 1981.


The laundry 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] The use of the Swastika name was as an ancient Indian symbol of good luck: its name originates from the Sanskrit svastika.[2]

The company used electric vans, painted in red with a white swastika on a black roundel, to collect and deliver laundry to customers.[1] The vans were quite ahead of their time.[1][3]

In 1939, the laundry changed its name to "The Swastika Laundry (1912)"[2] to make clear the distinction between its use of the name and symbol and the more recent adoption of the symbol by the Nazi Party in Germany.

It continued to exist as a separate company until the late 1960s, when it was bought out by the Spring Grove Laundry company, which continued to operate from the same site in Ballsbridge.[4] Nevertheless, the logo and name continued in use until the premises closed in 1987.[1]

Later history of siteEdit

Even following the closure of the laundry, its brick chimney, emblazoned with a large white swastika, remained visible for some years from many places in the surrounding area, including the Merrion Road, a main road south from Dublin.

Spring Grove sold the 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. The chimney, which is a protected structure, survives, but the painted swastika does not. The chimney is surrounded by the "oval" of the new development.[1]

Cultural referencesEdit

In his Irisches Tagebuch (Irish Journal) (1957), 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.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e McGrath, Sam (26 April 2010). "Swastika Laundry (1912–1987)". Come here to me!. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Swastika chimney". The Irish Times. Dublin. 3 March 2007. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2008.
  3. ^ "Electric/Battery Powered Vehicles". Ask About Ireland. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Laundry operations director is used to clean living". Spring Grove Laundry. 11 June 2004. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  5. ^ Böll, Heinrich (1984). Irish Journal: a traveller's portrait of Ireland. Translated by Vennewitz, Leila. London: Abacus. pp. 21–2. ISBN 0349103526.

External linksEdit

  • McGrath, Sam (26 April 2010). "Swastika Laundry (1912–1987)". Come here to me!. Retrieved 10 January 2017. Brief history of the laundry with a selection of pictures.