BNC Text K62

Walsall Local Studies Centre: interview. Sample containing about 7745 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C617

PS5B1 X m (No name, age unknown) unspecified
PS5B2 X f (No name, age unknown, retired) unspecified
K62PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
K62PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 091401 recorded on 1986-07-22. LocationWest Midlands: Walsall () Activity: interview

Undivided text

(PS5B1) [1] Perhaps you could start off by telling me how you came into working in the lock trade.
[2] What, what made you choose that as an occupation?
(PS5B2) [3] Well I had learnt shorthand and typing at school but erm ... the money was necessary at home you see, and er with my sister working there, at H and T Hornes, er she spoke for me and er I had an interview and [...] and they put me up in the nursery, we used to call it the nursery see because we were all fourteens up there and er then they called it the cylinder shop and er ... my foreman was a fella name Archie and erm everything was very very strict indeed, we could not move away from our board you couldn't speak to the next one that was working by you, and er there was a fella named Mr and he was he, I didn't work for him I worked for Mr , but some ... you cou you were afraid to move because of this man and he ... he ... he'd stare at you and he'd look at you and anyway erm ... they put me assembling and it was very interesting indeed, there was a tall stand on, we called it the bench, a tall stand with a screw on the top and then to as begin to assemble the locks you had to take what we would call the body, screw it into the er little on the stand and then we had tweezers, there were, in the body there were five springs and then you had to have five breast pins and when you got the springs in you.. we have to have a plug at the back so as we could put each pin and push the plug over that ... a dummy plug we called it and so that was five pins were in and then there was a ball ... er when that, when we came to put it in our vice, we had to put the [spelling] V I C E [] not [spelling] V O [] voice.
(PS5B1) [laugh]
(PS5B2) [4] We had to put it in erm oh what did we call it [laugh] oh dear a little vice and er put a ball, about three inches long and then er put it into the plug and erm put the cap, the little brass cap but also the ... I've made a mistake there, before we did that we had to put the natural plug in and in that plug there were five like aluminium coloured er pins, each of a different size and we had to learn to read the key for the various depths you see and we had boxes of pins with the different [...] sizes in and er then put those in the plug and then push the key in and but we'd got to, we got to file, we had to file the bars and also the little brass caps to get all the edge the, I forget what we used to call it now, off the cap to get it smooth and then get it in our own vice and screw, screw them down and there were thirty two, there were three key keys to each, each lock, and er we had to file them until they were ready and they worked easily push the key in properly, and we also used to put black lead in, you could not put oil because they would have stopped the springs working and we had a little box of ordinary oh like the black lead that we used to black lead the graves, put some on the key and push that then and work it round, and that was the erm that was made it work freely you see and then there was erm a half a gross to each board, and three, three keys to each one and then erm we, we filed the various things ourselves, but then they would take that away from you and bring you more you see and then when eventually the keys had to be polished and ... it was only a favourite few that were allowed to sit down to sort the keys out to com to complete them you see, but it was very very interesting work and I enjoyed being there but you
(PS5B1) [5] You enjoyed it, yes?
(PS5B2) [6] Oh yes I enjoyed it very much but erm ... we had American visitors around and we had one a Captain and I'm afraid we all fell for him cos he seemed such a handsome man and he'd been a hero in the war, and he was engaged to, then to the then president of America's daughter, so they informed us but erm I don't know whether it was the truth, that's what they, they said but of course some of the, some of the things had to be cast, the bodies had to be cast and they were, they were I don't know whether you'd have heard of the Orritor
(PS5B1) [7] I've heard of them yes .
(PS5B2) [8] It was next, it was next to H & T Hornes and erm I, I think they used to do the casting there and then all the castings had to come into, for us to file and it was hard work but er there was erm a big bell to tell us when to stop work and that was outside and there was a big notice in the department, wait for the bell or ...
(PS5B1) [laugh] [...]
(PS5B2) [9] You daren't move you see
(PS5B1) [10] Yes that's right.
[11] How many of these locks do you think you'd have done a day of the cylinder lock?
(PS5B2) [12] Oh er I used to, about four or five board boards a day oh yeah.
(PS5B1) [13] With how many were on each board [...] ?
(PS5B2) [14] Half a gross on each board yeah, oh you couldn't move away from your board at all and it was erm Mr his eyes seemed to be [...] perhaps I shouldn't tell you this, but I'm going to, it may be a bit humorous for you my er Mr used to send me out through the back way into street I think it is now, to wait for the paperman with a sporting book oh should I have said that?
(PS5B1) [15] No that's all right
(PS5B2) [16] And erm we used to work from seven o'clock in the morning until seven at night, we had to walk from New Invention to [...] Hall because there weren't any buses and erm there were some girls, some girls worked at Legs have you heard of
Unknown speaker (K62PSUNK) [17] Legs
(PS5B1) [18] Yes.
(PS5B2) [19] Legs
(PS5B1) [20] Yes.
(PS5B2) [21] And then some at Jailside Parkses and in the, during the winter months we used to, we had a spot to meet about half a dozen of us from the various factories, because we were afraid to walk home through and that way er because men used to wait in Lane.
[22] There weren't any houses then and there was a big ditch where [...] the canal side and erm we used to have to wait for each other, because no street lamps, nothing at all like that and er really we used to be afraid [...] and then when the first bus ran, shall I tell you this, when the first bus ran from, from Bloxwich to Willenhall of course word got around that the buses were beginning, because the roads were only ruts, they weren't tarmacked roads then and it was certainly gentlemen first for the first [laughing] [...] [] there were about three hundred waiting that was a lot of [...] at the top is it Street, I think it's that and all the gentlemen were first but we, some of us managed to scramble on, but erm then they used to break down very very often because the roads [laugh] the roads were in such a terrible condition they were only ruts.
(PS5B1) [23] This was while you were working at [...] was it?
(PS5B2) [24] Yeah oh yeah I didn't work anywhere else in Willenhall at all, and erm but we'd got to be in for seven o'clock and if erm you weren't in for seven o'clock and sometimes I used to hear the bell began ringing when I got to go around the corner and get into the, but you had to wait a quarter of an hour before they would let you in and that was stopped off your money and my wage was eight and fourpence a week.
(PS5B1) [25] [laugh] Were you allowed to keep that money?
(PS5B2) [26] Oh I had about a shilling pocket money I think, although they used, they'd fine you, they'd stop money off you if you were late if you were a quarter of an hour late you couldn't go in and erm until, and then you'd got to explain to your mums, well that you were some money short you see, why is this, and we had to say well we were a bit late getting in when you started out soon enough you see.
(PS5B1) [laugh]
(PS5B2) [27] But erm I real I really enjoyed it and er to me it was interesting work and I don't know that I can tell you much more about the locks.
(PS5B1) [28] What did you like about it?
(PS5B2) [29] I liked everything about it, I liked everything about it, mind you I had sore fingers to begin with, very sore, with the filing you see, but also er I was used to thing in a way because there was a little lock shop in mother's yard er and erm home-made er home-made locks and he used to er and now he used to do them and stamp them and I us I worked his hand press for him before I was fourteen and they were for [...] and they are still [...] and my mother used to take them to Birmingham [...] and erm I think he used to give me sixpence for doing everything I did for him.
(PS5B1) [30] Do you think that helped to decide you to go into lock making?
(PS5B2) [31] Well erm you see although I learned shorthand and typing it was better money and that was the reason I had to do it, I've passed my exams in shorthand but er probably there weren't enough offices then to employ a good many clerks, but erm they er it was a very big fellow who used to ring the bell and the bell was on the outside, he was named Tom but I can't for the life of me think erm what his other name was but, erm it used to put the fear through us I can tell you if we were around the corner and we heard that bell ringing but erm they, they were a good firm to work for and, but they were strict but everywhere was strict in those days, we had to accept it but it was a long long hours, but erm they knew I had some, I, I enjoyed it and I'd go back again only I'm too old.
(PS5B1) [32] [laugh] Can you describe the room you worked in, what was that like?
(PS5B2) [33] Yes it was a big, it was a square, big square room and er we were all young people up there except the foreman and erm some lived in, one lady live in she was named, then there was another one who lived in Street she was named and er there was a Violet there's a Winkles butchers shop isn't there, Winkles have got one in Road at Willenhall, yes there was Violet and er
(PS5B1) [34] Did you get on with these, these other girls?
(PS5B2) [35] Oh oh yeah well there was no option, you'd got to cos you daren't speak you'd oh er friendly in our lunch break you know er dinner break really we didn't have lunch time erm we were all friendly together and er as I say er we got on alright, but you'd er you'd got to stick at your job absolutely you daren't move oh, they don't know they are born today
(PS5B1) [laugh]
(PS5B2) [36] I don't think, some of them don't.
(PS5B1) [37] How, how long did you have for lunch?
(PS5B2) [38] About half and hour and er, I used to take my sandwiches with me you see you couldn't, there were no canteens then, you'd got to take [...] it was a bottle no [...] and flasks [...] [laugh]
(PS5B1) [39] So there was nowhere to heat anything up or anything like that?
(PS5B2) [40] Oh no, oh no you couldn't heat anything up no, no but erm oh we well there wasn't anything else you have to accept things don't you, there wasn't anything else to do.
[41] My er my sister worked in the grenade shop and erm after she ca she'd been working at, on the manor, do you know the manor at Willenhall [...] and then er she decided to go on with the war work and she was courting the man named , John and his father was the timekeeper, later H & T Hornes, but erm it fizzled out and anyway the romance did but erm
(PS5B1) [42] So your sister was working there before you?
(PS5B2) [43] Before I were yeah, she was on, on war work you see on the hand grenades, that was on the, on the ground floor, of course there were a lot of old cottages er the one at the end, and erm there was something about those ... oh when, when we did erm er when we did erm locks for the erm hotels there were called, they used to say no they used [...] , there would be about a hundred keys for the guests who clocked in for the er for the hotel and they would each be given a key to the same lock you see, and they used to call those keys to pass, sometimes there was more than a hundred keys to one lock but er ... wait for the bell or ...
(PS5B1) [44] Were you allowed any breaks during the morning or afternoon for, for tea and things like that?
(PS5B2) [45] I don't remember there having a break, we had the break at er midday but I don't remember, if we, if we did we had to work you know what I mean, we just have I forget, that is a bit I've forgotten
(PS5B1) [46] Mm mm
(PS5B2) [47] whether we had a break.
[48] I know everything was very very strict indeed there was ... nothing like it is nowadays that I had but erm ...
(PS5B1) [49] There was, there was nothing in the way of a union or anything like that?
(PS5B2) [50] Oh not then, oh not then there wasn't a union at all.
[51] Cos started a union up, but that was after when I was working at Squires but there wasn't, there wasn't a union, a union at all then, but er there was keen competition between Tonkses and cos they and [...] , I mean they all developed the Yale and er we used to get a lot of visitors around, and er you used to get a lot of American visitors around, but erm ... it's a ... it's a very very old town isn't it, very old because mother used to do her shopping there and there weren't any buses running, but we used to go by wagonette from [...] er to do the Saturday shopping er Applobish used to run the wagonettes and the daughter used to drive the two horses and [laugh]
(PS5B1) [52] Did you have anything in the way of holidays erm, was there a sort of works' holiday or any works' outings while you were there?
(PS5B2) [53] We perhaps had a works' er we had to have a works' holiday yeah.
(PS5B1) [54] Was, was that during Wakes Week or would that be in September?
(PS5B2) [55] erm ... we didn't have a holiday for that but we used, when it was Willenhall [...] er our mums knew that we should be like going home and we used to go straight from work to the Wakes you see, which was a, it was really a good wake then but then you'd got to walk home.
(PS5B1) [56] What was at the Wakes, what did you like about them?
(PS5B2) [57] I liked everything about Wakes.
[58] Then I used to go dancing down at down the and I'd strict orders to get in on a Saturday night early, but it was always eleven o'clock walking on my own back.
(PS5B1) [59] What, what, what was at the Wakes?
[60] Were there carousels and things like that?
(PS5B2) [61] Oh yes, oh yes much as they are now and the big horse we used to call them the big horses you know and er shows and that, all, they used to, Willenhall Wakes used to be fine really good, and er that was down in the [...] Lane somewhere there.
[62] Do you know [...] Lane?
[63] Somewhere there, but off the [...] wouldn't it be [...] but erm ... it was an event erm when I had a rise in wages my mother being a dressmaker she used to have a machine under the little front window and when I got a, I had a, they'd put my wages up to ten shillings, and when I got in mum came over and said what's the matter with you she said you seem as if you're walking on air [laugh] I said I'd had a rise in wages and it was up from eight and four pence up to ten shillings [laugh] I don't know what that seems but still.
(PS5B1) [64] Did you, did you keep the increase or did?
(PS5B2) [65] Oh no no oh no I wouldn't do that.
(PS5B1) [66] So it was still just a shilling, shilling pocket money?
(PS5B2) [67] Yeah yeah yeah I had a shilling pocket money and out of that I saved up for a bike.
(PS5B1) [68] [laugh] The Wakes were very popular were they?
(PS5B2) [69] Oh yes yes.
(PS5B1) [70] I've never seen one so
(PS5B2) [71] Oh they were, haven't you ever been to [...] Wakes?
[72] They were but it, well it was an event, a big event in, in the, among the younger people anyway in Brooks ... in Willenhall then and er it was really lovely, really lovely I forget if we had to pay to go in, but er we had er we saved up for a good few weeks before, so that we would have some money to spend at the Wakes [laugh] it was one of the [...] an event of the year then, but erm I used to like Willenhall Wakes and er I used to go dancing a lot well I was allowed to go dancing cos I've always loved singing and dancing you see and er I was allowed but I had to be home before my father got home, but I wasn't always.
(PS5B1) [73] Can, can you remember the markets in Willenhall?
(PS5B2) [74] Oh yes Dan [...] used to stand outside calling er get your nice steak or get your nice egg bun and all this, they mostly had barkers, and it was competition you see between the, there was er Smiths the pork butchers, erm Cliffs the pork butchers, that was nearly by McMillans that were [...] I forget and there used to be Olivers shoe shop round there and a Mr used to erm ... I don't know whether you've heard of Percy , no, and erm his father used to manage it and erm ... behind the Angel Alley you know the Angel Alley, well that was down shop there, and then there were several maid shops and there was the erm grocers, that's er before you turn o ... that's on the same side as Street, it, is it, is it Moors in Street, there's a hardware shop on the corner now straight in the market place?
(PS5B1) [75] Homebase, Homebase yes
(PS5B2) [76] Yes and erm Thornleys used to be next to it, and it, to see him patting the butter you know and with all the fancy things in the window they would be doing it and er everything was parcelled up then, into brown paper and strong brown, sometimes there would be a bag of sweets pushed in as well for the children. [laugh]
(PS5B1) [77] How often did the markets take place, was it every week?
(PS5B2) [78] Oh yes, oh yes, oh mum went there for years and years every Saturday yeah, and as I say the wagonettes used to erm be stationed up by Albion Street, to take er shopping and, and er and Rushbrooks used to be the big confectioners then, that's on the, it used to be on the corner of erm Albion, well there's a market there, an indoor market now isn't there ... yeah [...] they were the er the big confectioners Rushbrooks, and er bakers and confectioners and er all the barrels of flour used to be, you could see all that going in you know but er I don't know whether it is, am I making it interesting, is it interesting for you?
(PS5B1) [79] It's fascinating yes.
[80] Were the markets, erm were there a lot of stalls in the markets?
(PS5B2) [81] Oh yes, oh yes each side and er there, some, a few came round erm ... where it used to be the old picture house, a few came around up as far as Rushbrooks and erm further up towards erm ... now then The Central, there's a school that they used to call it The Central but erm ...
(PS5B1) [82] Up, up you mean, I know, yes
(PS5B2) [83] Yeah, yeah but er it, it, there isn't a, I haven't known anything else like it on the Walsall market.
(PS5B1) [84] Right were they open late on a Saturday?
(PS5B2) [85] Eleven o'clock, there weren't restrictions then on, they could keep open as long as they liked, no restrictions on, on time, and er as I say [...] their own place you know it really it was picturesque, I thought in ... since erm I contacted you I've been thinking how, what I could help with and er what I could still think about, and er it was really a sight ... because to walk and it always used to be crowded, well it was one of the best markets round here and er people used to go off ... and from Bloxwich and er although there's a good market at Walsall there wasn't a Bloxwich market then sadly for years and years, but erm and then if you went to Wolverhampton you got to walk through Windsfield you got to er walk everywhere you went then and ... except on a Saturday night when the wagonettes used to run on a Saturday but it was amazing to see the girl behind the range now controlling to ...
(PS5B1) [86] I, I, I've heard in Birmingham that people used to wait until quite late on a Saturday night to get [...]
(PS5B2) [87] Oh to get your bargains oh yes they wouldn't, there weren't really good fridges in those days, there was co col cold rooms but erm they would be glad to get rid of the meat that they'd already got cut up you see, and the barker, they used to call them the barkers, standing outside you see and get your fresh meat and so on, so on, so on, so you know and er to get the custom in you see, oh there was real competition between the barkers and there were barkers [laugh] standing in road.
(PS5B1) [88] Right you left erm Bourns when you were eighteen?
(PS5B2) [89] Eighteen yeah.
(PS5B1) [90] Why was that?
(PS5B2) [91] The work had dropped off yeah, and then I were on the, on the labour for a short time and erm then I got a job next door to where I lived, straight next door.
(PS5B1) [92] That was was it?
(PS5B2) [93] yes yes yes.
(PS5B1) [94] And what sort of work did you do there?
(PS5B2) [95] The till, the till locks, and erm we used to assemble those as well and er it was a fortunate one who used to do the lacquering, there was a big er big erm heated table and er it was easy work to do the lacquering you see and you used to have to put them on the top of the heated tower to dry before they were packed to go away, but erm ... they were, it was a hard place to work for but er the one son Mr he was always in London and er this isn't being recorded now is it, is it?
(PS5B1) [96] It was quite strict then was it at er?
(PS5B2) [97] Oh they were very strict
(PS5B1) [...]
(PS5B2) [98] Yes if erm two girls were in a toilet you were fined and they used to stop the money, oh yes two girls were fined it was a very strict there it was er quite as strict there as it was a H & T Hornes and erm you, you but you could have a drink there, but er at one time before they allowed a drink, a cup of tea, the men used to, someone to watch to see if, when we were working in the top shop cos we could see if anyone came up the, up the shop into, from the bottom shop into top shop then they put a can on erm on something to boil you see and er oh and we got a little sto coal stove to heat the shop, no central heating pipes or anything like that, and they put er someone [...] you could see anyone coming up the, up the steps and er anyway there was someone, one of the bosses coming up so they erm whipped the can off, ran round the back of the bench wh where there were a lot of hand presses going and Mr walked straight [laugh] [...] he was only mad that [...] off the can of boiling water [laugh]
(PS5B1) [99] Was, was that because you weren't allowed to [...] ?
(PS5B2) [100] We weren't allowed to have a [...] we weren't allowed to have a cup of tea in break time no but er we were all on edge you know for fear, if he kicked it it would have scalded his foot and he were, he were only a few inches away from it, and of course he went now what we used to say now nosing around and we shouldn't have done he had a job to get round because he was [laugh]
(PS5B1) [101] Did, did, did, did they have the union in there at all or ... ?
(PS5B2) [102] Have what dear?
(PS5B1) [103] Have a union at .
(PS5B2) [104] Erm they began the union just before I left Bellany and of course it was cried down and erm they had meetings and the lot, and then all the miners were on strike at the time, and er my father and brother were both miners and er my brother was very friendly with Mr and Mr next door and er anyway er we decided to come out on strike for Bellany's union and of course erm they, the, one, I think it was Mr said Joey he said er ... did you know we're out on strike here and my brother said it seemed to be catching doesn't it he didn't say he couldn't say [...] [laugh] I worked there you see but erm it, it caused an upset but still ... up to a point the unions were good because we're all badly underpaid for what we did, and the hours we worked they wouldn't tolerate it nowadays, but erm I forget er I joined the union and if you didn't you were a blackleg you know you, they wanted you to join the union [laugh] from then I've been in the union all, until I finished work but erm they, they got us our rises and er as I say the, the money wasn't er very good and then the union did fight for the rises and they'd got to pay it or lose all the er employees but erm I was, I was satisfied with without it, I've been satisfied with my life you know I've had, there's been humorous there's been sad but erm I'm still able to get around and that's the main thing.
(PS5B1) [105] What, what was that, that first strike over, was it pay?
(PS5B2) [106] Yeah oh yeah.
(PS5B1) [107] It was pay?
(PS5B2) [108] Well they didn't want to recognize I [...] recognize the union you see and when, when everyone really knew what we should be having and what were paying, and of course erm it caused a bit of bitterness and resentment against those who wouldn't join, but er that, that's what causes the trouble nowadays isn't it and it's, it's a sad thing really, but on the whole erm I've enjoyed everyw everywhere I've been.
(PS5B1) [109] What was, was there a shop steward elected from amongst you or somebody to?
(PS5B2) [110] Well we never heard the name shop steward in those days [laugh] I don't think they went that far, there was somebody in charge sort of thing but erm they er got the na the name afterwards I think you know shop steward, but er and then they used to be Miss used to have the garden fetes the garden parties on her lawn, that was for the Liberal Party you see as soon Labour was mentioned [laugh] there were only Tories and Liberals at that time and er we used to, when there was an election er we used to wait up for the results and then if the Liberals got in Squires' big bell would be rung if it was twelve o'clock at night or one o'clock in the morning the Squires' big bell would be rung you see, to say who'd got in, if the Tories got in it wasn't rung because it was a, Squires were Liberals, strong Liberals and er ... they used to attend the Liberal Club at Shortheath but erm there used to be some fun in those er what's the name parade if the Liberals got in and ... [...] dances you know to raise money for the various things, and the garden fetes used to be lovely but er on their lawn.
(PS5B1) [111] Where, where did they live?
(PS5B2) [112] they live in the, a beautiful house, a little house, old, very old and erm they always said there was a secret passage underneath and my, my uncle er ... used to er ... he used, he named, he named some locks, my uncle did a till lock and when I star began to work there er they were called Salmon Baits and er Mr said to me you know he said er it's your un they used to call him Trot, my uncle, it's your uncle Trot that named them and I said was it and it was a till lock and they couldn't get them right [door bell] [...] er they were having trouble with these particular till locks, and er my uncle said to Mr when he went around they were having trouble and he said, all these locks all these things are good for a bait for Salmon and then they were called Salmon Bait and they were traded as Salmon Bait so [laugh]
(PS5B1) [113] What, what happened when you when you got married and did that cause problems?
(PS5B2) [114] Well no, no I, I, I'd got a cycle and er the money was very useful to us cos er my husband, he worked on the, on the top of at Parcel he couldn't go down, they weren't allowed underneath er because he wore glasses, anyone wearing glasses they weren't allowed underground you see and they had to work on what they call on the surface, and of course the wages weren't, weren't much and er I was glad to go out to work and er and I, I eventually I had a cycle and I used to cycle to Squires and back you know, and erm ... it was, it was very very useful indeed the money I, I, I earned there.
(PS5B1) [115] What, what was the attitude of, of Squires themselves when you got married?
(PS5B2) [116] Oh well they treated me alright afterwards because Mr er said, well you see they put me on big presses during the last war and er I've always loved machinery, always loved machinery and then the foreman said er [...] before the foreman came to him Mr said er, you've got to learn to set your own tools , he said, I can't keep coming out of the tool room and er to change your tools, so of course erm I began setting my own tools, but when I got them in they would come around and check because otherwise hundreds of pounds have gone, could have gone if I hadn't just got the top to go in right in the base you know, and er they were great big presses very big.
(PS5B1) [117] Was, was there some pressure on you to stop working when you when you got engaged [...] ?
(PS5B2) [118] Oh no not after Mr had said you see.
(PS5B1) [119] But, but before tell, tell me a bit about that I haven't got that on the on the tape.
(PS5B2) [120] Oh er of course they erm, they didn't believe in married women working and er they thought a married woman should be at home you see, well I hadn't got any family then you see, until er after oh we'd been married a number of years when we had, when I had my first baby and er and then I had the other one pretty quickly and er then I was glad to go out to work again when they were school age, they weren't left unattended at all er one, the elder one looked after the one, we didn't live, we lived in then but erm there wasn't any pressure for me to stay at home, it was with my husband's consent, because he knew it was helping out because rent man's wages weren't very good then, and erm ... he er he finished, he finished at the pits you see and he got a job rent collecting, and he er ... he used to do miles he'd cycle part of the way and then er ... he'd perhaps leave his cycle somewhere and call back for it, but he used to do all the and all round there, [...] there's a place called [...] and then er a lot of places er he used to do the old, is this, is this on, erm he used to do round , round the top there there were some slums there.
(PS5B1) [121] Yes I've seen photographs of them.
(PS5B2) [122] [...] and they used to collect the rents from there er some of them and er up er he came home one day and he said erm, I'm not going up there collecting again, as he er collected the bugs used to drop on his collecting pad I said, finish the job don't go again, but anyway they persuaded the people to take the rents into the office you see instead of having to have a rent collector, but er it was horrible he, he worked for them twenty five years and then when he was sixty four he had his, a stroke, but he went back again after eight months and he completed his job for when, you know he stayed in the office, he was er him and erm started the rebate, well it was footwork the rebate system was worked out at the Town Hall, but they, the rent men had to carry it out you see and er he er work the system out and of course erm, when he was sixty five he finished, course he was lucky really, but then er he could get about fairly well, but after the years drew on you know his, his health deteriorated and er but he lived er he was sixty four and he was eighty five when he died but erm
(PS5B1) [123] When, when you were working at, at Squires erm
(PS5B2) [124] And they were glad of them during the war.
(PS5B1) [125] So when, when you were working at Squires the fact that you were the first woman?
(PS5B2) [126] I was the first woman to start.
(PS5B1) [127] The first married woman to start?
(PS5B2) [128] The first married woman in the factory yes.
(PS5B1) [129] Right and then others followed you on after that did they?
(PS5B2) [130] Oh yes they
(PS5B1) [131] They became accepted?
(PS5B2) [132] it sort of er er gave them lee a, ladies leeway who wanted to work after they were married, some married and then could they come back well they couldn't keep me on and not let them work you see, so oh yes it was mostly married women, there were a lot of married women there when I left, but erm it sort of set a precedent I suppose for, for them but it did, it did them some good [door bell] really [...] .
(PS5B1) [133] You, you say you noticed more and more machinery being brought in over the years?
(PS5B2) [134] Oh it had oh yes definitely, they used to have a lot of machinery from Germany, cos they were specialists in, in power presses, oh I used to, the one big press I used to work on I used [...] bells, erm all this was great nearly as high as the ceiling here and it was an [...] press, and er just one just press a lever or a handle there used to be er handles on the side as well sometimes they put levers sometimes a handle and the bell would come out all formed and everything and that was heavy steel, and that was a heavy job, but erm they were very very heavy presses they, the pressure was very I don't know tons or something like that, but erm it was all er it was all to cut labour out and er and the self-feed as well where one would be feeding it or you'd pull it yourself, it was automatic all automatic I couldn't think of that word before.
(PS5B1) [135] So they, they were cutting down on, on the workforce?
(PS5B2) [136] Oh it was cutting, definitely cutting it down yes, and I er remember in the first place before erm all this automation was brought in, they used to do the casting er a man and his son used to do all the casting and believe me it was hard work, er the real old way you know er with the fires and that and everything like that and heating the things up in a bellows.
(PS5B1) [137] That, that was done at Squires was it in [...] ?
(PS5B2) [138] In the casting yes in the casting yes.
(PS5B1) [139] And, and what, what bits would they cast?
[140] What, what, what pieces would those be [...] ?
(PS5B2) [141] Er it would be some of the bodies I think oh er wait a minute ... I'm trying to think what the casting were be used for ... there were other things besides locks you see ... I forget what they the, I know they used to do the castings ... and the brass castings it would be for the locks, for the locks yeah
(PS5B1) [142] I should imagine for some of the big lever locks [...] .
(PS5B2) [143] That's it the lever locks yes.
(PS5B1) [144] The bolts and things like that.
(PS5B2) [145] That's right yes and erm it was all er, now it is more, more mechanized, but still, they're still, I don't know whether they still do it cos I haven't been around Squires I don't know whether they'd do casting now, I haven't been down around for years and years, when I erm when I left and then I went into the leather trade and er started to learn leather cutting [laugh]
(PS5B1) [146] When, when you left was there any sort of erm did you get a send-off or any sort of recognition of all the work you've done or anything?
(PS5B2) [147] Erm I don't think I did no, oh no they didn't they wouldn't think of doing that then, but they do now and erm then I, I've been around at Wiggens the old hall table where people you know, worked in the warehouse there and I've done all sorts [laugh]
(PS5B1) [148] Do, do you think conditions improved while you were at Squires?
(PS5B2) [149] They'd, they had to because there were, they got, when, after the union was formed you know, they were having the rights er but and I think really the hours they put in and the type of work they deserved it, but erm there was a time you know when the bosses were bossy sort of thing, and er and you adhered to that, because you didn't know anything different until erm the unions started up, but erm I know there were one or two processions you know and peer rights and all this that and the other, but erm on the whole it's er it's been an eventful life in, in some ways, very eventful and it's been interesting.
(PS5B1) [150] What, what things that, did you notice any particular things improving?
[151] Did, did, did your hours of work get shorter or anything like that?
(PS5B2) [152] Oh oh yes yes the union did erm get that er sorted out you know, and er and then when the buses began to run it made it easier for those worked in Willenhall and er ... and it just be about threepence of fourpence in our money go there then, but erm and then the hours were altered you see, eight o'clock and finish at six o'clock and er and then it used to be seven to seven you see.
(PS5B1) [153] Mm.
[154] Did you have to work Saturdays as well?
(PS5B2) [155] Oh yeah yeah yeah Saturdays [...]
(PS5B1) [156] All day Saturday?
(PS5B2) [157] No half day Saturdays, half day Saturdays, yes and then er ... I, I used to stay waiting for mother to come and my sister er to do the shopping in Willenhall cos they wouldn't shop anywhere else, and then erm my brother used to come with his cycle and er I used to carry a lot of the shopping back and my brother used to push a lot on his, on his cycle and mother and my sister used to stay down and have another walk around, but we'd got to walk it back ... I'd come back on the wagonette so or just after the buses started but er I'll never forget the first time the bus ran it was pouring with rain and my sister was standing in front of me and she'd got a new mac on and of course we were getting very wet and there was a scramble to get on the bus and the lady in front of her had got a bag of flour and of course the bag burst and went all down her [laugh]
(PS5B1) [158] They, they made a big difference did they the buses you would use?
(PS5B2) [159] Oh yes, yes it did yes er I don't know whether it made us get more idle or what but erm ... the hours we used to work and erm I, I never had a sitting-down job I was standing all the while, and I only went if we could sort the keys out you know, we were lucky if we could sort them out to put the keys ready for packing you see, everybody wanted that job.
(PS5B1) [laugh]
(PS5B1) [160] What, what happened if you were ill at all or anything in the early days, did, did were you allowed time off for illness [...] ?
(PS5B2) [161] Oh well you had to notif take doctor's note in you see, oh yes er [...] doctor's note and erm we were allowed, but erm fortunately I didn't have to have much time off, I've been really fortunate that way, but erm I don't think I would do anything that's different to what I have done because it's hard to prepare me for how I am now that's how I look at things, and er the trouble I had with my husband it's helped me to prepare myself for doing the garden, I'd done the front garden when the gardeners came [laugh] this morning.
[162] The drovers used to bring the cattle through, they would walk from Wolverhampton through
Unknown speaker (K62PSUNK) [163] Windsfield straight into New Invention and every Wednesday night, first it was the cows that would come and then the sheep and they'd got to walk to the abattoir at Bloxwich, and erm sometimes the cows were so heavy with milk that er a lot of people in New Invention had free milk [laugh] and then if the, if the sheep would be here there and everywhere you know and then with mother living where there was an entry dividing four houses er and a well straight at the top, and a. a big old-fashioned er tap for the cold water, there weren't any taps laid in kitchen in er what are the outhouses it was a communal tap erm sometimes the sheep would get out of hand and they'd run up the entry hall and [laugh] all round mother's yard and then the cows would go around, but er it, it to me I felt sorry about it, because especially in the summer er erm the poor things were so hot and to walk all those miles, now they're carried aren't they and they used to every Wednesday every Wednesday of the year the drivers would er the men must have been absolutely tired out, well although they'd be used to it wouldn't they, but it was miles to walk from Wolverhampton the cattle market to Blox straight to Bloxwich and er that was another event that erm ... it, we, it, we used to have.
(PS5B1) [164] Did they ever have any animals, live animals at erm at Willenhall [...] market?
(PS5B2) [165] I don't, I've never known of any, no I haven't know of any at Willenhall, but erm as I say ... it's a long way you know through
Unknown speaker (K62PSUNK) [166] Windsfield and along that way to get to Bloxwich isn't it, and of course it used to, as I say it was an event, and the kids used to, we used to [...] and then the lamplighter used to come round, pushing his pole, no electric lamps then, he used to come round.
[167] Are you recording this?
[168] He would come round on his cycle just lean up against the er lamppost and push a long pole ... u underneath the, the lights the lamp itself the glass, and of course the lamp would come on off this pole [laugh]
(PS5B1) [169] Did you enjoyed that as children did [...] ?
(PS5B2) [170] Yeah oh yeah.
(PS5B1) [...]
(PS5B2) [171] We used to, we, that's all the as the village life was, it was it was all very now I know it's very interesting, my daughter wants me to write a book about it, she says, I said I'll oh I don't know mm, write a memoirs mum she said er, you know and I said you know a lot about New Invention, which I do but it's Willenhall you're interested in, but it all sort or entails the lot and erm ... there might be things I've can I wish I'd have told you if I can think about them after it's finished, but it's erm.
[172] I'm going to pour you a cup of tea now.