BNC Text FY2

Nottingham Oral History Project: interview. Sample containing about 3879 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C150

PS25F X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
FY2PS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
FY2PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
FY2PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 094701 recorded on unknown date. LocationNottinghamshire: Nottingham () Activity: Oral history project interview

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (FY2PSUNK) [1] [...] two, as an apprentice to waggon repairing.
[2] Now this er of course was railway waggons and er when you started work [cough] you was put with a skilled man and i er it was his job to repair the waggons and teach you at the same time.
[3] Now the first job he did was to get you well acquainted with the tools, which we had quite a number of them.
[4] Er spanners, and such like, and also woodcutting tools.
[5] You was expected to er to get to know these and also you was to taught to er sharpen the wood tools.
[6] Such as saws, chisels, and so forth.
[7] And er cold chisels, you had to keep those sharp, and er use a hammer and er [cough] watch as you didn't hit your fingers and knuckles.
[8] Now, after that, you was er taught all the parts of the waggons, and er this took quite a long while because we didn't know anything about them, and er where they all went and the parts they went.
[9] And then, after that, you was taught, er about six month, you was taught then er to measure the timbers up and also er start to er er mark the the er timbers out.
[10] Because everything was handmade, er all the holes in the er timbers, they had to be carefully er marked out so that y er when they went to the wood machines there was a er they would be bored in the right place, and the right size of holes.
[11] Which was ranged from half inch, to two inches, and then of course the mortices, and tenons, they had to be marked out.
[12] And then we had to cut those out, by hands hand, that er of course entailed quite a lot of work er for er for the mortices to be cleaned out, and the tenons to be cut by hand, so that they fit in the proper places.
(FY2PS000) [13] Those were joints were they?
[14] Mortices?
(PS25F) [15] They were join Mortice
(FY2PS000) [16] Right.
(PS25F) [17] and tenon's a joint.
[18] Er now after about two years, er you got more proficient and then, of course, you could also help with the stripping down of the waggons.
[19] The frame was er one section, and the body work was er er the top, of course.
[20] Er but the framework, that was all made from English oak.
[21] It ranged from er about eighteen foot long, sixteen to eighteen foot long, er twelve inches wide and five inches thick, and we was taught how to be able to handle these by balance.
[22] They the frame was er constructed on on er two trestles and, of course, er you put your trestles so that you could balance it, so that it wasn't so heavy to lift.
[23] And er, then of course, when you got the frame er right,y you put it together, by using cramps and rods, and such like.
[24] And then, of course, when you'd got that completed or or the er bad parts pu taken out and the new ones put in, of course then you put the floor down, which was er er s er seven by two and half timber, that was teal.
[25] And er, then of course, then you came along to the er to the bodywork, which was er two and a half timber teal, or p even pitched pine.
[26] But y you'd got to watch, there again, that er you didn't exceed the width of er of your waggon, which it's maximum limit was er would be er eight foot three, or er eleven foot six, high.
[27] So er, you see, you'd got to really watch what you was doing all the while.
[28] Now at this stage I'll er I'll go to the er to the wages.
[29] Er when I first started, my er wages, a first week's wage was er,e eleven and sixpence.
[30] That is the old currency.
[31] And er the firm payed me er four shilling, a week, and er the man I was working with, he he, the rest of it was taken out of his er his er wage packet er and put into mine, and so I got about eleven and sixpence a week.
[32] Er and er that went up, the firm's pay, er by sixpence a year.
[33] Sixpence a week, per year, see?
[34] Er in other words, er when I was fifteen I got sixpence a week extra and a little more from the man I worked with.
[35] And er that went, of course, on for a year.
[36] And er then, of course, when I was about eighteen, er I became what is what be what was called as an improver.
[37] Then I would be able to take lighter jobs on my own, what we'd call er light repairs.
[38] And, of course, I gradually built up then to until I got the er the main overall jobs, and er w by the time I was twenty one, of course , I was considered a full waggon repairer.
[39] Ha.
(FY2PS000) [40] So when you ?
[41] Twenty one was when you finished your apprenticeship ,
(PS25F) [42] Yes, that's right.
(FY2PS000) [43] did you carry on working at the same place ?
(PS25F) [44] Yes, I c I was fortunate to be able to carry on at the same place.
(FY2PS000) [45] And where was that?
(PS25F) [46] That was at er m er at Tottan Sidings it was a private firm, but er they repaired th their own er their own stock of waggons.
(FY2PS000) [47] And did your wage go up a lot when you'd finished your apprenticeship ?
(PS25F) [48] Er yes,wh yes, I came on full rate then.
[49] It was piece work, and I earned I er The firm payed me as a retaining fee, ten shillings a week, and then was what I earned, you see?
[50] Each item, on the waggon, had a price on it.
(FY2PS000) [51] Ah, I see .
(PS25F) [52] You see?
[53] Er for putting in er one floor plank in, as an illustration, we got er a penny, three farthings for it.
[54] But, you see, if you'd forty of those, which would be about the your maximum, you got er forty penny, three farthings.
[55] And so on.
(FY2PS000) [56] How long would it take to build a whole waggon?
(PS25F) [57] Well,w I wasn't repairing them, but er I wasn't building, but to overhaul er a waggon er it would probably take you, probably a week.
[58] But if it was a light repair job it would be a day.
[59] You see, it was all hand done, you see?
[60] F er your bodywork was er it was cut off You measured and cut it off with your er at the at the mill, and er, of course, then when it got to the er you cut it You know, when you got it to the er your waggon, you put it in and, of course , then you'd got to bore all the holes by hand for the bolts to go in, to fit in.
(FY2PS000) [61] So everything was done by hand, in fact ?
(PS25F) [62] Everything was done by hand.
[63] You had to buy your own tools, as well.
(FY2PS000) [64] When did you buy those?
[65] At the beginning of your apprenticeship ?
(PS25F) [66] No, at the end.
[67] When you'd got a little bit more money.
[68] [laugh] . Of course, we had to have good quality tools, we had er er now, we had Spear and Jackson saws, always, because they was the best quality.
[69] And, Ridgeways, we had a special bits, what we called a fast bit, for er for the er o the bodywork an and instead of having the the pointed er er er cutters on, it was the flat cutters, you see, they was a bit faster.
[70] And then, if we had to bore er through the oak er we had w er twelve inch bits, and they was very slow,m er er and we a also had er a special er brace with them, a fourteen inch sweep brace.
[71] Which the normal one was er er,w I think it's a five inch brace for the er er it's five inch sweeper, in other words it's er about Is it six inches?
[72] Twelve inch sweep for the er with the brace, they had normally.
(FY2PS000) [73] Were there any other special tools that you had to have?
(PS25F) [74] Er yes, we had to have cramps and er they was they was also provided, you see?
[75] And er we had to have er for the spr er for springs the er the buffers er we had to have a er a tool then to put the pressure on on to the buffer springs.
[76] That was provided, you see?
[77] Now er the er the draw gear, it's not just er er a coupling and a draw bar, it connects up with the er the buffer spring, which also er serves for the buffers as you know them, on the outside.
[78] Well then there was a bar went right through, well half way through, and then i it a cradle fitted on, and then there was er a coil spring fitted in there and er a set of rubbers.
[79] And then same the other end, and so it went right through that waggon, and your coupling took the strain for the next waggon and so on and so on until you'd got the complete train fitted up.
(FY2PS000) [80] I see.
[81] Erm was the place that you were working at very big, then?
[82] How many people worked there ?
(PS25F) [83] Er yeah, well, no.
[84] It wasn't really big, there was about thirty of us, about a dozen er waggon repairers and er and er a apprentices.
[85] And of course then you'd got the er you'd got the mill, er and then, of course, the blacksmith's shop.
[86] You see, all the iron work, as you took it off, it had to be straightened out, and if it was broken it had to be rewelded.
[87] There was no spot welding in those days, it all had to be forge weld welded .
(FY2PS000) [88] Mhm.
[89] I see.
[90] So quite a long job,
(PS25F) [91] Yes.
(FY2PS000) [92] in fact.
[93] And were you in a union of any sort ?
(PS25F) [94] Er l After I finished my apprenticeship I was in a union.
(FY2PS000) [95] Which union was that?
(PS25F) [96] Er Transport and General Workers Union, and, of course, then we was taken o b over by the A E U, Amalgamated Engineering Union, when we we changed course, and we all became A E U members.
(FY2PS000) [97] I see.
[98] Erm you say you started work in nineteen twenty two, so,
(PS25F) [99] That's right .
(FY2PS000) [100] you would have been working when the General Strike was on,
(PS25F) [101] That's right.
(FY2PS000) [102] do you remember anything about that ?
(PS25F) [103] Yes.
[104] I I was er I was out of work then, for er four month, during the er er nineteen twenty six strike.
[105] Er of course, I was an apprentice then, again.
[106] Er what would I be?
[107] Er I wasn't eighteen, and er I got er seven and six a week, dole money, that's in the old cunner currency, which would make er, let's see, er g twelve and twelve and five, about twelve shilling a week.
[108] Something like that.
(FY2PS000) [109] Mm.
(PS25F) [110] And er we had to walk to Long Eaton three times and week, which would be, from here, would be two and a half mile away, and then we'd we er on the Friday It was Mondays, Wednesdays and and Fridays, and we got paid on the Friday.
[111] And you was given a time to go in to sign on.
[112] We had to sign on er three times a week.
[113] We was er given a time to go and er it was anything after nine o'clock, in the morning.
(FY2PS000) [114] I see.
[115] And then you got You had to go three times a week [...] ?
(PS25F) [116] Three times a week, then, yes.
(FY2PS000) [117] Why was that, then?
(PS25F) [118] Well, it was starvation years, actually.
(FY2PS000) [119] Can you remember what it was like managing on that amount of money?
(PS25F) [120] Well, we didn't.
(FY2PS000) [121] Were you living at home, then ?
(PS25F) [122] I was living at home.
[123] How my mother er managed we don' we'd never know.
[124] It was
(FY2PS000) [125] Did you?
(PS25F) [126] hand to mouth.
(FY2PS000) [127] Yeah.
[128] You gave all the money to your mother, then, did you ?
(PS25F) [129] Yes.
[130] Yes.
(FY2PS000) [131] Yeah.
[132] But you remember it as being
(PS25F) [133] Y yes.
(FY2PS000) [134] a difficult time?
(PS25F) [135] Yeah.
(FY2PS000) [136] And you were out of w work for four months then?
(PS25F) [137] A yes.
(FY2PS000) [138] Were you out of work any other time during your working
(PS25F) [139] No.
[140] No.
[141] No.
(FY2PS000) [142] life?
(PS25F) [143] I was on er What happened after that er when we was er, winter time in particular, er we was short of work, er you see, er Well er the the waggons didn't get er damaged so much because they was er they was extensively but er they was all they was weathered, you see?
[144] And it swelled the timbers up.
(FY2PS000) [145] Mm.
(PS25F) [146] Well of course then you get a hot summer and it er it er revealed the cracks and the breaks, see?
[147] Now er when we'd done a waggon er it wasn't just er right, that's alright, er we had a railway examiner come along and er he'd go round it and if there was anything as he was wasn't satisfied with, or any other further repairs,he he'd stop that waggon from going out, and er of course we had to go r go back and do it.
[148] Of course we got paid for that as well.
[149] Well then every three years all the wagg [...] at the end, er they had to have an M O T.
[150] In other words, it was called general repairs.
[151] Now when it had had a general repair on it, there was a little plate put on it and er then i it w it was supposed to go out again for three years.
[152] Now er all the waggons they had a registration plate on.
[153] That's surprised you, hasn't it?
(FY2PS000) [154] Like
(PS25F) [155] Y
(FY2PS000) [156] a car?
(PS25F) [157] Right, like a car, only it was a cast plate, and it was er, on this plate was er er who it was registered by, what railway company it was registered by, er it's er load capacity, we used to have ten and twelve ton, and er it's registration number.
[158] ... Ah, now, that's it.
[159] And er, of course, er there was one either side of the waggon.
[160] And from there, oh y these waggons were oh, nothing to be one forty year old.
(FY2PS000) [161] Really?
(PS25F) [162] Yeah.
(FY2PS000) [163] That's a good age, isn't it ?
(PS25F) [164] Mm.
(FY2PS000) [165] Mm.
[166] Erm how long did you actually work at this same place for?
(PS25F) [167] Oh, about thirty year.
(FY2PS000) [168] As long as that?
(PS25F) [169] Yes.
(FY2PS000) [170] So what happened during the second world war?
(PS25F) [171] I was still there, I was in er it was classed as a reserved occupation, so I didn't have to go to to the war.
[172] But with the same rule, I wasn't allowed to leave, I couldn't leave.
[173] See?
(FY2PS000) [174] What?
[175] What does reserved occupation mean?
(PS25F) [176] Er it means er you was er working er now You was a reserved occupation because i it was of great importance.
[177] That's near as I can tell you about it now, it has a special name I know, but er, that's it.
[178] Y your er you was er er now.
[179] That's it,yo you was er ... reserved because you was more important to be on your job than er go to the war.
(FY2PS000) [180] I see.
(PS25F) [181] But what happened er You didn't quite get off, quite free, I was detailed to join the Home Guard.
(FY2PS000) [182] Ah.
[183] Can you tell me about that?
(PS25F) [184] Yes.
[185] Er I think I had two years in the Home Guard.
[186] Er we had to go to er do manoeuvres er every Sunday, see?
[187] When we weren't working.
[188] And er we used to go into er Bramcote Park and er manoeuvre er left flanking movements, and right flanking movements, and drill, and er [sniff] and then, of course, and then, occasionally, we'd have a mock battle.
[189] And I was learnt to er go into a quarry and er fire the er rifles, then we had bayonet practice.
[190] And er, then, we was all sorted out, this was the staple for the Home Guard, we was sorted out er to go to er er man the guns at Sutton-on-Sea, the er girder rockets.
[191] And er I was er one that was sorted out to go, but they wouldn't let me go because er I couldn't get b they couldn't get me back to work for seven o'clock on Monday morning.
[192] That was a weekend do, you see?
(FY2PS000) [193] So you weren't allowed to go along?
(PS25F) [194] No, I wasn't allowed to go with.
[195] So I had to stay back in er in Stapleford, the Stapleford Home Guard.
[196] Mind you, it was er it wa wasn't er really dangerous because, of course, they, as you know, the the Germans never came.
(FY2PS000) [197] So you never really had to use any of
(PS25F) [198] No.
(FY2PS000) [199] the skills that you'd learnt ?
(PS25F) [200] We had all the equipment, gas masks and er and and gnats and all that.
[201] Rifles, and bayonets, [...] , but the bayonets and rifles were kep at the drill hall at Stapleford.
(FY2PS000) [202] I see.
[203] Erm working at the same place for so many years you must have had?
[204] Do you remember any of your work mates in particular?
(PS25F) [205] Oh, yes.
[206] Yes.
[207] Oh, yes.
[208] Er er I'm afraid they're about all passed on, now.
(FY2PS000) [209] Really.
(PS25F) [210] You know, I'm very friendly with one of those that are, but er, we lost one this last year, I was really friendly with him.
[211] There's one [...] big friend now, he he comes up about, oh most weeks, we come and have a natter and er and one thing or another.
(FY2PS000) [212] Can you remember any any funny stories or anything, from work?
(PS25F) [213] No, no, I don't know as I can.
[214] Er you see, we was er we was kept busy, you see, all the while.
[215] Er of course, it was rather dangerous work, really, because it was [...] stuff we was dealing with.
(FY2PS000) [216] Was anybody ever injured then, that you can
(PS25F) [217] Oh, yes we were
(FY2PS000) [218] remember?
(PS25F) [219] Yes, there was one or two had er w er there was one or two got ruptured and er and one or two had broken fingers and such like.
[220] Sprained wrists and such like.
(FY2PS000) [221] Did anything ever happen to you?
(PS25F) [222] No, nothing happened to me.
(FY2PS000) [223] What about those that were injured, did they get any kind of compensation?
(PS25F) [224] Er yes, they got compensation, but not lump sums.
(FY2PS000) [225] So what would happen?
[226] It was paid out gradually?
(PS25F) [227] Weekly.
(FY2PS000) [228] Weekly?
(PS25F) [229] Yes, you got a weekly compensation.
(FY2PS000) [230] I see.
(PS25F) [231] Now er [cough] when er I was er eighteen I had to do pay er National Health and er it was abo er about a shilling a week and
(FY2PS000) [232] And that was insur health insurance?
(PS25F) [233] National Health Insurance, yes.
[234] And er of course, when I er I became twenty one, the National Health Insurance was er now went up to one and tenpence.
[235] Now er that, if I was off sick, I could go to the Doctor and er I got, as a single man, I got er a pound a week from the National Health.
[236] And of course, when I was eighteen, I think it was about er seven and six a week.
(FY2PS000) [237] That was i instead of your wages?
(PS25F) [238] Instead of my wages.
(FY2PS000) [239] I see.
[240] So?
(PS25F) [241] And er [sniff] but a man a married man, it was twenty two shilling a week, you see?
[242] An but the National Health for his er, he got medical treatment for himself, but there's nothing for his family, or his children, they had to pay the Doctor.
(FY2PS000) [243] Was medical treatment very expensive, then?
(PS25F) [244] Er yes, and no.
[245] Er the Doctor provided the medicine and if he visited you it was seven and sixpence each visit, and if you went to his surgery, I think it was four an either four and six, or three and six.
[246] That's what it was.
(FY2PS000) [247] Mm.
[248] Did you notice the difference in how far your earnings went when you go got married?
(PS25F) [249] Er oh yes, I got married in nineteen thirty five and er my er take-home pay then was would be round about three pound a week, which was a good wage, in those days.
[250] You see, my day rate, then, [cough] of course I was piece work, but my day rate then would be er er two pound twelve and six pence.
[251] Less, one and tenpence.
(FY2PS000) [252] And how did you find you managed, you and your wife, managed on that amount ?
(PS25F) [253] Oh we managed very nicely.
(FY2PS000) [254] Was she working?
(PS25F) [255] No.
[256] No.
[257] Er now, I don't know whether you'll put this in your [sniff] in your er talk, but er in Stapleford, if you er when you married, the girl got married er she got the good wishes of the er boss she worked with, in most of the industries, I'm not saying all.
[258] Most of the industries, and w er the day she got married, she got her cards.
[259] She was no w no no question, she ha it was one of the laws of your firm.
[260] Now, as soon as you got married, they did not employ married women.
[261] [...] I mean I can mention the firms, there were several of them in Stapleford, because I know two, but er perhaps as well not to. [sniff]
(FY2PS000) [262] So in fact, you were supporting both of you?
[263] On what you earned?
(PS25F) [264] Well erm my wife, as er as a tailoress, she could go to work, but she didn't.
[265] We manage we did manage, well w we managed, and we was able to g have our week's holiday a year.
[266] Three pound a week was considered a good wage.
(FY2PS000) [267] So did you
(PS25F) [268] A
(FY2PS000) [269] save out of your weekly earnings to go on holiday ?
(PS25F) [270] Yes.
(FY2PS000) [271] How did you save?
(PS25F) [272] Well er I think we put ours in the bank, actually .
(FY2PS000) [273] In the bank?
(PS25F) [274] Yes.
(FY2PS000) [275] Yeah.
(PS25F) [276] Oh yes.
(FY2PS000) [277] Y you put so much?
(PS25F) [278] Yes.
(FY2PS000) [279] away a week ?
(PS25F) [280] Oh we didn't er, any surplus went in the bank.
[281] Of course, er the er the hotels and such like, they weren't as expensive as they are today.
[282] You could get er a r a decent er er hotel or boarding house.
[283] The cheaper boarding houses was er would er be er four and sixpence a day, full board.
[284] And the dearer ones would be about six shilling, a week, full board.
(FY2PS000) [285] So how much would a week's holiday for two cost you?
(PS25F) [286] Oh, round about twenty pound.
(FY2PS000) [287] And when?
[288] About what year would that be?
(PS25F) [289] Er nineteen thirty five.
(FY2PS000) [290] Twenty pounds for a week's holiday ?
(PS25F) [291] Yeah.
(FY2PS000) [292] That's pretty good .
(PS25F) [293] Ti till nineteen, till nineteen forty, till the war broke out.
[294] Of course, then,ho holidays was all off.
[295] See, er now, coming to that, holidays, er you only had a week's holiday, with no pay.
[296] There was a er And then you had bank holidays, with no pay.
[297] You had er two days at Christmas, Boxing day and Christmas day, er no pay.
[298] Er Easter, we had er Good Friday and Monday, no pay.
[299] Whitsuntide, er er one day, with no pay.
[300] Er August bank holiday, August bank holiday Monday, first Monday in the month, no pay.
[301] If you had a week's holiday [cough] , still no pay.
[302] [sniff] . They were the starvation years. [recording ends]