Around the Zuiderzee, commercial activities are characterized by their manual craftsmanship and small scale. The advent of the steam engine in around 1870 changed a great deal. Certain activities that had previously been done manually could suddenly be done mechanically. Steam laundries appeared, for example. People could do their washing in large washer drums and it was dried in the drying attic or on the bleaching field. However, employment in the steam laundry was heavy and unhealthy work. It involved much lifting, and there was no time to sit down. It is warm, humid and always slippery. Bleaching, too, was not without its hazards due to the use of lye, a corrosive or caustic substance.