This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of LOLA—the London Owners Launderette Association. Since 1992, when LOLA merged with the National Association of the Launderette Industry (NALI) “for the common good of the industry”, the former has preserved both its identity and independence through bi-annual meetings for owners in London and the Home Counties.

LOLA was inaugurated in London on 24 September 1974, following two “pilot” meetings convened by then group operator Tony Grainger, and its first chairman was Alex Wilson. Subsequent office holders have been Tony Offord (twice), Tony Grainger, Joe Wayne, Jack Clarfelt, Roger Pressinger, David Tarlow and—currently—Keith Lawson.

At one time representing 1200 plus launderettes, LOLA has ever been in the forefront of defensive measures to protect the industry’s interests both regionally and, subsequently, nationally.

For as long as there are launderettes operating in London, it will have a specific role to play in ensuring the well-being of the industry there.

It was a regional issue that gave LOLA the opportunity to prove its mettle—the passing of the GLC General Powers Act, Section 31, which imposed a duty on all launderette owners in the London area to have their premises and machinery inspected every 14 months.

Formed too late to prevent this legislation from entering the statute books, the association fought to minimise the confusion it generated in the minds of owners and local authorities alike.

LOLA worked towards achieving a common standard within the 32 London boroughs, and also united a number of approved independent engineers to carry out the mandatory inspections at more reasonable rates than those charged by insurance companies.

The bigger its membership became, the more services LOLA was able to offer and the greater influence it enjoyed when dealing with local and national government departments—the latter in conjunction with NALI. It was able to exert influence on decision-making by certain government agencies and this has, over the years, saved the industry considerable expense as well as serving to ameliorate what might otherwise have been an aggravating series of regulations and requirements.

Interesting—and sometimes controversial—speakers on a wide range of common-core subjects and problems specific to members’ interests have always been a key feature of LOLA meetings, and the association is proud of having pioneered the concept of “shopping mall” promotions—ancillary presentations of machinery, parts and services—in support of these.