BNC Text FY3

Nottingham Oral History Project: interview. Sample containing about 3131 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C151

PS25G X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
FY3PS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
FY3PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
FY3PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 094702 recorded on unknown date. LocationNottinghamshire: Nottingham () Activity: Oral history project interview

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (FY3PSUNK) [1] Right.
[2] ... Okay Mrs erm, can you tell me how old you were when you started your first job?
(FY3PS000) [3] Er fourteen.
(PS25G) [4] And what was that doing?
(FY3PS000) [5] Er tailoring, at a tailor's shop in Stapleford.
(PS25G) [6] In Stapleford?
(FY3PS000) [7] Yes.
(PS25G) [8] And what was that like?
(FY3PS000) [9] Well,i it wasn't too bad at all, they the tailor's shop actually, it was er a tailor and his wife, who had built up a business over the years, in Stapleford, and it was very well patronized by Stapleford people.
[10] But, at fourteen, my job was to er I had to fetch the coal and the sticks, to light the er stove that held the irons, and er they they were er d I I Like I had to go to the coalhouse which was down fourteen steps, the steps were wooden ones, outside the upper floor, where we worked.
[11] And so I had to drag the coal scuttle up there, I was faced with that, and chop the sticks, which I'd never done before.
[12] And so that, it made me a tougher than I should have been.
[13] And also the irons were twenty two pound, they were long, flat arrangements, called goose irons.
[14] And er the all day that stove had to be kept, in summer and winter, because there was no other means of heating the irons.
[15] And a bath was kept, a zinc bath, at the side of the stove and the tailors, there were two tailors, and four other pe machinists, girls an and women like.
[16] And erm erm the tailors would come when they wanted to do any pressing of seams, or anything, and they would take the goose iron, and put it in on of the, what we call press cloths, that we pressed the And then they would douse it in the bucket of water, to get it the right heat, to start, so a cloud of steam went up.
[17] The tailors sat cross-legged, on benches, and er the machinists, there were four machines on one big bench,th they went from one belt.
[18] And in the other room, there were two rooms, and the other room had a buttonhole machine, which was quite modern in those days, not many firms had a buttonhole machine.
[19] And I was there until I was about eighteen.
[20] I wasn't a bound apprentice, as such, I didn't have to er it meant that I didn't have to stay with them.
[21] Er they wouldn't have you as a bound apprentice because unfortunately, although the wages were so low when you was being an apprentice, three and six a year, then six and six year, and then er I think, thirteen shilling, the third year.
[22] Now that was a year, but, er because you wasn't a bound apprentice, when trade fell off in the winter, and it fell off drastically in the winter, and then built up for Easter, when everyone in those days bought new clothes.
[23] Er it erm er the result was that you was really working flat out all the summer, and then as the winter advanced, you got very short of work, and they put us on the dole, for half a week.
[24] We worked a wee half a week and were on the dole, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we'd be on the dole, then work Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning.
[25] Well, we should have knocked off work at about twelve on the Saturday, and instead of that, being a shop, they were taking orders and we had to do all the alterations as they came in, and bought the clothes.
[26] And the result was we were often working till half past three without any lunch at all.
[27] And we used to get very worked up about it, and then we went down to fetch our wages, and the older ones were always going to complain, but this erm tt er son of the people, he used to look at the factory clock opposite, and it would be half past three, and he'd said, Right, I'll pay you till three o'clock, and we'll make it right next week.
[28] Next week came, [laughing] and we never got that half hour, so it must have added up a lot, all throughout the year.
[29] And er [] we bore great resentment about this, that was the only thing, that I can honestly say, we bore any resentment about.
(PS25G) [30] Mm, I can imagine.
(FY3PS000) [31] Otherwise, it was er They were nice people, and it was quite nice.
(PS25G) [32] And where did you work after that?
(FY3PS000) [33] Well at about er when I was about eighteen, I erm I decided I'd had enough of this er this business of three days on the three days on, and three off, in the winter, and it was about October time and I could see another winter of it.
[34] And er also down at Long Eaton Labour Exchange, which we walked to, or went on the train for tuppence, we had to er fetch our money on Friday night.
[35] A very nice er was with the the juveniles, as t we were called, but a very terrible, she really was a terrible civil civil servant.
[36] That was for the older girls, and they frightened us to death with tales of what this Fanny-Annie, as they said called her, had er had said to them, and how rude she was, terrible.
[37] She really was, and I sort of thought, Oh, I can't go, I can't face up to going there.
[38] So er there was a job advertised in the erm, well it was the journal, in those days, and er I went after it, in Nottingham.
[39] It was er by the park, that's near Snenton Market, it has Bendigo's grave in it,I I don't quite Victoria Park, I think it is.
[40] And I ha I wasn't very familiar with Nottingham, then, but I went and erm we crossed this park, and it was at a big house, there, tailors were always in rather out of the way places, and er he'd just got fixed up.
[41] So, I was very disappointed, and on the way back to catch the bus on Parliament Street, I passed erm a shop called Jowers which was next to the Corner Pin, and er er although I was very nervous, I went in and ask if they wanted a tailoress.
[42] They were very surprised, because usually they advertised for them, but they went up and asked the tailors if they wanted anyone, and then a dear old man,a er named Mr said he like a trouser finisher.
[43] And he worked on his own on these trousers, you see?
[44] Each man then, there was about, there'd be about four or five men there, all had a number of girls working for them, and er they had to pay the wages out of what they earned.
[45] You see?
[46] They it was all piece work, there.
[47] Unlike Gillens a fixed rate for the week, it was then piece work.
[48] But our rate was fixed, the girls's rate We worked for a fixed rate.
[49] But the men had to balance it up by, what they called chits,tha that came on every garment and how much er money they were getting for it.
[50] And then, of course, had to take their own wages out, as well .
[51] Well, conditions were about the same, the goose irons, and the the floors that got cotton and all erm bits of material on, and everything.
[52] The conditions were about the same, the wor people were very, very nice.
[53] And er this erm tt As I say this old man, he he he'd didn't like coming in too soon in the morning, and er a I could see he was finding it a bit difficult to find both our wages out of his money, although I got there to time and worked.
[54] And er when the winter came, it was the same old story, everyone was short of work again.
[55] But erm, they didn't seem to go on the dole, they just seemed short of work and short of money, you see?
[56] And he told me that if I He came from out Keyworth way, and he said If you can better yourself, Dorothy, do so.
[57] So he said I I don't want to keep you, and I I could see what struggle it was for him to come a er so often in the bad weather, that er I I started the same idea.
[58] I didn't want to come back to Stapleford, so I st because they were very offended because I left.
[59] No-one had ever left Gillens before, and they were very [laughing] upset about it [] .
[60] And then I erm I went to er I went to R I shall I start on the scheme, going around, to the shops, and I got a job on Long Row.
[61] And there, the tailor, he'd been trained in the war, and he he only had one la leg, and he seemed very nice, but er he told me to start on the Monday and then I got a letter.
[62] You see, that was the same system, the piece work, to say there was no trade at all.
[63] There'd been some snow, and erm er he wasn't well, and could I if I cared I could look for a work elsewhere, as i it was just impossible for him to pay wages, you see?
[64] So as the shop, you see, didn't pay the wages, they had to just pay it on the things that were done.
[65] And so then I So I was very, very disappointed and I went to a shop then called Dixon-Parkers which was a bigger shop and er a very well-known shop.
[66] And I went in there, and asked for their tailoring department and er er I found out after that I was just dead lucky, one of their trouser finishers was going to er leave, she was getting married, and she was leaving and erm although you didn't have to leave then, she she she sort of had got to leave, so er I just fell lucky, there.
[67] And this Mr was so taken aback, by me going in and asking for a job, and they'd always advertised in the paper before, that he said, Well, she must want work if she's gone after it.
[68] And er if I could do the job, I could have it.
[69] So I started there and they put me on a month's trial and I dithered about about this month, whether I was good enough, and they'd forgotten all about it, by the end of month, [laughing] [...] trial [] .
[70] And er that too was at the top of the building, and that was in, oh a series, of little rooms, although the shop was big and beautiful, down below.
[71] The higher you went, the less beautiful it got.
[72] And conditions were still at just about the same, but it had been an old hotel, so all the rooms at the top were left just as the bedrooms would have been, so you went up and down steps, and along corridors.
[73] You could easily get lost, at first, until you got used to it.
[74] Or you went up the fire escape, which had fifty two steps, to go up.
[75] And you was in these top rooms with the the stoves, but erm they had gas stoves, under the irons.
[76] And er, of course,th the trouble was that i the tailoring was erm You threw all your cottons on the floor, you threw all your bits of cloth on the floor, and er you had your youngest girl sweeping it up.
[77] But nobody ever scrubbed the floors, and they were bare boards, so they got, you know, in a pretty er far worse condition than factories.
[78] But erm
(PS25G) [79] Did they have any form of inspection, like they did in factories ?
(FY3PS000) [80] Erm they do have They did have factory inspectors, but they always informed them when they came, and [...] always bought a suit, or a costume, if they were women.
[81] There were the odd women inspectors.
[82] And so, they were far too f [laughing] They got far things far too reduced in price, to have said much about it [] , it was the accepted world, then.
[83] I
(PS25G) [84] So conditions were quite bad, in fact?
(FY3PS000) [85] Conditions were poor, really, in that respect.
[86] But er, it was just the thing, they thought inevitable in a tailor's workroom.
[87] Whereas er in erm a factory, I believe, they would have had to have er the rooms whitewashed, colourwashed or whitewashed at certain times, we weren't bound up with any regulations, then.
[88] You see?
[89] There was no regulations, as far a I know, we never had a thing painted or done at all, in any of the places I worked at.
[90] They were just really attic rooms, that we used.
(PS25G) [91] Mm.
(FY3PS000) [...]
(PS25G) [92] How long did you work at that place for, then ?
(FY3PS000) [93] Ah well they put me on the top rate of pay, which was quite good, thirty five shilling a week.
(PS25G) [94] What year would this be?
(FY3PS000) [95] Ah, oh, about thirty, thirty one.
[96] tt And er it was very good, the money was, we were very busy in the summer, and we could earn overtime.
[97] The same thing applied to winter, we were very short of work, but instead of you ever being on the dole again, er you went in at ten o'clock in the morning.
[98] So er before and you had two half days a week, you'd have Thursday and Saturday, you see?
[99] T er but you you wasn't putting the hours in, so you didn't get the money.
[100] And then, you see, then the erm er the bus fare, you got as reduced rate, to go in early, so I used to go in at the usu about from the last bus I could go in cheap, and then walk to Trent Bridge, and back, it was very nice.
[101] [laugh] . But the people were grand, the people I worked with, and you could talk all the while.
(PS25G) [102] Yeah.
(FY3PS000) [103] While you worked, er er conversation was good, and the people were grand people.
[104] So it made up for any other, er, you know.
[105] The only thing is, I didn't really want to be a tailoress, I wanted to be a nurse, [laughing] but [...] hadn't much choice, then [] .
[106] And having l your mother and father left er, your parents had left you with such low money in the early stages you couldn't In any case you couldn't My friend was a nurse, but you'd got to have a special background.
[107] You'd got to be someone, to be a nurse, in those days.
[108] And they had some terrible times, I can tell you.
[109] But she'd got to have her family backing, I mean er, in fact she'd got to really be middle class, at least, to
(PS25G) [110] Mm.
(FY3PS000) [111] be a nurse then.
[112] So er I I stayed on in tailoring, and probably got on better, because they were lovely people.
(PS25G) [113] Er when you left that tailoring job, why did you leave, in the end?
(FY3PS000) [114] Er because I was ill, er well, ill.
[115] I'd got a troublesome cough developed, and now looking back through the years, er it would have been a sort of hay-feverish condition that I I have been a bit bothered with.
[116] I it's er never held me up that much, but er it obviously it affected er me throat, the erm It's the bits off the new cloth, you see?
[117] You've always got the new cloth, and er and I think the heat, in the summer, with the stoves going and everything, contributed to it.
[118] And er I got a questionable spot on the lung and had to go to the Ransom Sanatorium.
[119] Er or I wouldn't have left, I would have stayed on, I liked the people.
[120] They were marvellous to me, when I did go, there.
[121] And erm tt and then I was there twenty two weeks, as a patient, and er the then the only cure was rest and good food, and fresh air.
[122] And fresh air we got, it was all open to the weather, I once remember putting an umbrella up, because it snowed on the bed.
[123] [laughing] And we, Every morning, when we had to strip-wash in the bath [] er in the bowl-room, the frost was on the ground.
[124] It was at Ransom Sanatorium, it was beautiful round there, but very isolated.
(PS25G) [125] And once you'd recovered, you left there, did you?
(FY3PS000) [126] Well I stayed on as an orderly because they said that I could erm I could marry because er I wasn't erm classed as erm tt Er I wouldn't pass it on to me husband, so I could marry, provided I I prevented having children for er five years, that you had to see the Doctor until The medical Doctor at Nottingham, until he pronounced you clear, you see?
[127] And er so that's er I stopped on six months, being an orderly, because I couldn't go back into tailoring, obviously, because er it might have aggravated it all again.
(PS25G) [128] But you were working as an orderly?
[129] That was before you got married, was it ?
(FY3PS000) [130] Yes.
[131] Six months before I got married.
[132] I stayed on as an orderly, up there.
[133] I never worked harder in me life.
[134] [laugh] . Oh, the little tt Oh the little maids, however they stuck it I shall never know.
[135] They worked from eight in the morning, till nearly eight at night, with just an hour's dinner, and half an hour's tea.
[136] And an hour off, a day.
[137] And if they didn't get up when the Night Sister switched the lights on, they were on the Matron's mat, and they lost that hour.
[138] The conditions er er y you know,i it's like a another world.
[139] And yet, they were cheerful, and good, and stuck it, didn't they, Jack?
Unknown speaker (FY3PSUNK) [140] Mhm.
(FY3PS000) [141] Mm.
[142] Yes.
[143] Rea really marvellous, and the nurses too.
[144] It was th it was erm, a lot of the nurses were there for two years before they went to get th into the General Hospital training.
[145] They could do two years, between sixteen and eighteen, you see?
[146] A in that at that sort of a place, they could do it, and they er came over from Ireland, a lot of them, and and er did the two years.
[147] But it was so cold for them, but they did it.
[148] And so isolated, some of them ran away, and you know,i it really was.
[149] But the sisters were very devoted to it, and the Doctor, and the matrons.
[150] It's amazing, really.
(PS25G) [151] Mm.
(FY3PS000) [152] The conditions, today, to then.
(PS25G) [153] Yeah.
(FY3PS000) [154] Yet people were happy and cheerful, and just as dedicated.
[155] They g seven seven shilling a week we g [recording ends]