Mrs. Queenie Kellock (nee Algar), was born in 1914. She was interviewed on 14 February 1992, when she lived at 20 Homefield Road, Witham.
She also appears on tape 155.
For more information about her, see Kellock, Queenie, nee Algar, in People category.
The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
[Looking at pictures about the Pinkham family etc.]
Q: Various people have given me, the Glove Factory and all that. Because that was the old building wasn’t it?
Mrs K: I never worked in that one. That was up by the station that was.
Q: Well that was the park next to the railway.
Mrs K: Yes, that’s where they started it there. So I didn’t really know that one. It was before me time.
Q: Who’s that?
Mrs K: That’s his son. [Q: Which one’s that?] Bert. I’ve got one of the old bloke too.
Q: Oh have you, because he was William as well was he? (Q: Yes.) Somebody’s written Leslie on that but it’s not then.
Mrs K: Unless Leslie was the old man perhaps when he was younger, I don’t know.
Q: Did you see much of Bert?
Mrs K: Yes, we saw Bert quite a bit. I’ll show you when I’ve got some the old bloke, you can see him, and then you’ll see.
Q: These are a bit older I think and that might be him on there?
Mrs K: I don’t know.
Q: I think that was one of them.
Mrs K: That’s him when he was younger. I know they had it opposite the station but of course, I’m not 100 yet [laugh]
Q: Actually, I did meet, she’s just died as well, Mrs Pullinger.
Mrs K: Yes, she was 99.
Q: When she very first started she was opposite the station. Because these are a bit older. And this one’s a long time ago because that’s before they had the other. That’s an outing.
Mrs K: I went on an outing with the glove factory
Q: Did you? Where did you go?
Mrs K: We went to Hyde Park to a demonstration [laugh] for more money I think it was. Grandmother and a young gentleman. That was his grannie. Old Mrs Pinkham. She used to come and work up there you know, on the machines. She was about 90 [laugh]. She helped in the factory. They’re a bit too old for me.
Q: Tell me about this outing of yours, I mean they’re just things to remind me to ask you really whether you had any outings. Who organised this one?
Mrs K: They did. We had to go up [the women?].
[Looking at her‘bag of tricks’.]
Q: [???] A bill for £48.6s.9d. In 1959. 4 dining chairs, 6 yards of lino, half a yard of lino (actually 7½, one carpet, one carpet felt, one walnut suite, one walnut four foot bedstead, one spring mattress four foot, one base board, one feather bolster, two pillows, one …
Mrs K: You wouldn’t think it was possible would you?
Q: Is that a settle?
Mrs K: A settee suite
Q: One half moon rug, one curved. [Mrs K: We had fireplaces then you see]. What is that last one? (Mrs Q: Another rug.) Oh, six foot rug. That was it really. That was all you needed wasn’t it?
Mrs K: Yes, that did my front room, and a kitchen and a bedroom, not much in the back bedroom but still. Well, we got married on a hundred pounds. And that was half of it and then we went on honeymoon to Brighton with the other fifty pounds.
Q: You had saved that up had you?
Mrs K: Well, we always said we we’d never get married until we had a hundred pounds. And when we got the hundred pounds we got married because we courted about six or seven years you see. We had a hundred pounds. We had a reception and we went to Brighton.
Q: Where was the reception?
Mrs K: The Legion hut down Mill Lane when that used to be down there. Because we used to live in Mill Lane and then we moved up to near the Jack and Jenny, them bungalows down there. We got married actually from there but we had the reception in the Legion hut. My Mum did it all you know. Yes, had a proper white wedding, with bridesmaids and all that for that money. Doesn’t seem possible does it?
Q: It must have been an awful lot of money for you to spend on it. Did you keep the money in the bank or what?
Mrs K: The Co-op of course [laugh]. Then we had one of those little houses down you know where Miss Chalk, do you know where Paula lives, down that row [Braintree Road, back of Chalks Road], we lived down there you see and Len was earning two pound fifty pence a week and he had the fifty pence and I had the two pounds, and we had to pay a pound a week rent and we lived on a pound. We had a coal fire and that was two and tuppence a hundredweight [laugh] They don’t know nothing nowadays, do they. And then we had David, you know after the War and I had a machine from the glove factory at home to make gloves because I could never let David go to Colchester High School you know cause I couldn’t afford it but I did some gloves at home and that kept him there. Then he started at the County Hall.
Q: I see. So it cost more to go to Colchester did it?
Mrs K: Well, he had his train fare and he had his train fare for nothing. We didn’t have to pay anything for him, only his uniform and they were dear them days weren’t they. So I worked till he left school and then I packed it up.
Q: That was really for the uniform and things like that. So if you hadn’t done that he wouldn’t have been able to go there?
Mrs K: No, couldn’t have afforded it, afford to go.
Q: What sort of work did you do at home?
Mrs K: Plain gloves. I went up [???] and I had a treadle machine you know and then I took them back when I had done them and had some more.
Q: And did you quite enjoy that or was it?
Mrs K: No, I didn’t mind it.
Q: You were good at it?
Mrs K: Well I was cause I made some for the Queen, Queen Mother. I was good at it. But you know you’ve got to do something if you want to give your son an education.
Q: He liked school then did he?
Mrs K: Well he got on all right. He passed the law exam and he passed the five O levels and he went to night school or day release from Chelmsford. Still it has paid off. He has got a good job now.
Q: And you made a lot of gloves as well [laugh] So you didn’t work anywhere else after that then?
Mrs K: No didn’t work any more. I’ve never been out to work. I laughed the other day cause I had Income tax paper come and they hadn’t got any, what did I pay, was I the head of a firm or anything to pay Income Tax. They hadn’t got anything about it you see. So I wrote back and I said I don’t understand why I have got this letter. I’ve never paid Income Tax because I have never worked. It’s fifty years, I never worked did I?
Q: Perhaps they wanted tax back for when you were making gloves.
Mrs K; What a pound a week! [Laugh]
Q: Was that what you got about?
Mrs K: About a pound a week that’s all.
Q: It was paid by the amount you did I suppose?
Mrs K: Yes. You see we was always on piece work at the glove factory. If you didn’t work you didn’t earn. Unless you did special gloves and then you was on time work, they gave you time work for that because you had to go slower.
Q: What was it laid out like. I think I’ve a plan but I’ve forgotten to bring it because I came out in a hurry? Were you upstairs or downstairs?
Mrs K: Upstairs.
Q: That was a big room was it?
Mrs K: Yes, it was a big room because I should think there must have been 150 of us worked there. Everybody in Witham worked there really. (Q: As many as that?) We had a canteen and then we had to do firewatching up there. I did because I was working when Len was in the Army you see. And so we had three beds and we had to sleep there and then they called us when the siren went.
Q: So were the machines all in rows, or …?
Mrs K: Two rows like that, and then down the middle one there was another table where they used to have to look over every glove you see I used to have certain glove things you know to see if you’d got a slipped stitch or anything and if you had they had to come back and you had to just mend it.
Q: So is it, Pat, Mrs Hollick’s daughter? She was talking a bit about, she gave a talk about the glove factory. She said her mum told her about this sort of driving belt thing, was that there when you were there? That drove the machines?
Mrs K: Drove all the machines yes, they went round (Q: Went round the outside?) all round the outside.
Q: You had to step over it to get in there (Mrs K: Yes.) They wouldn’t have that now would they, it’s be dangerous?
Mrs K: No, they wouldn’t, would they. That was hard work at the glove factory, but we had some fun, we were young, we used to have the wireless on at half past twelve for workers playtime and that you know.
Q: You were telling me about this outing? (Mrs K: Yes. ) How old were you went that went?
Mrs K: Well I was, must have been about sixteen or seventeen. We had a bus load. There was a demonstration in Hyde Park about money, the wages or something and they took us up in this bus and we had to go into Hyde Park and listen to all this, we didn’t know what they were talking about, cause we wouldn’t have got any more money would we, not them days.
Q: Its funny that the Pinkhams actually paid for you to, the firm actually sent you?
Mrs K: Yes they sent us. We didn’t have no … They were quite good, you know they were nice people, really they were nice people. Because when you got married they give you your gloves and your bridesmaids’ gloves and all the people’s gloves you know, you could get what you wanted for that.
Q: And Mrs Pinkham was actually the boss of the first Pinkham’s?.
Mrs K: Yes, old Mrs Pinkham, she used to sit in there sometimes. Cor you had to work then, couldn’t look up, she was a fierce little woman, a short woman.
Q: Because she’s the one who helped to start it out did she?
Mrs K: Yes, she started with that. That was before my time that was. Because when I left school I didn’t want to go there. My sisters were both up there and I didn’t want to go. Mr Johnson the insurance man said he could get me a job in the office at the Co-op. But my Mum said the other two girls are up there you’ve got to go. So I had to go there.
Q: Do you think you’d have earned more at the Co-op then?
Mrs K: Yes, I reckon, because you didn’t get much office work then did you. At any rate I had to go. I was glad I did after all really.
Q: So it all came right in the end. What were your sisters names?
Mrs K: Dorothy and Edith[?]. My sister Dos[?] died first and then seven months after my other sister died so I lost them both in seven months.
Q: A while ago was this? (Mrs K: Yes.) Some people didn’t like the glove factory at all did they?
Mrs K: Oh no, they thought that was funny to hear we worked up the glove factory but we didn’t mind it.
Q: Did you have your meals there as well did you say? (Mrs K: Pardon?) You said you had your meals there too. Did you stay for your dinner?
Mrs K: No, we had to come home to dinner. We started at half past seven in the morning, we came up the Valley way, because I lived in Mill Lane then you see. Then came out at half past twelve and had to get back at half past one so we walked right down the Vally and back again in that hour, and had our dinner, and then we didn’t leave off till six at night. And Saturdays we did half past seven till half past twelve.
Q: So the canteen was …?
Mrs K: Well, we had a cup of tea in the morning, but we never had any in the afternoons, for years and then they said we ought to have a break between half past one till six so we did have a cup of tea. But I mean we had to pay for them. So if you hadn’t got no money you couldn’t have a cup of tea! [Laugh]
Q: Still if everyone was the doing same you didn’t think to complain did you.
Mrs K: No, you see most of the people I was at school with all come up the glove factory, so we weren’t strangers. Where if we had gone to Crittall’s, cause some of them did have to go to Crittalls when the War started but then they started to make gloves for Aeroplanes, you know pilots and we did flame throwers. What they called flame throwers. And they were ever so hard, all wired up you know, and we had to do all that so that kept the glove factory open.
Q: The people who went to Crittall’s, what were they doing ?
Mrs K: Making windows. Some went to Hoffman’s and some of them got killed at Hoffmans when a bomb dropped and hit Hoffman’s there. Several of our friends were up there killed. Funny old world isn’t it?
Q: And that was all the time your husband was away as well?
Mrs K: He went to go abroad and I never heard or saw anything of him for nearly a year. I didn’t know whether he’d got there or whether he’d been bombed or not. And then I had a card and that didn’t say where he was, who he was. It just said ‘Do you like the view of the people in the picture?’ and that was the desert you see. [laugh]
Q: Funny isn’t it, some people look back and say the War was a good time and we all enjoyed ourselves but it doesn’t seem like that to me …
Mrs K: No it was nothing like that. Then when the siren went we had to run out the glove factory on to that bit of field where them, before them houses were built there. We were running across there and they dropped some bombs on up Highfields Road and we had to be flat on the ground you know.
Q: You must have been glad when it was all finished. Did you celebrate when it was finished?
Mrs K: Yes, we had a children’s party in The Avenue. (Q: Oh, lovely.) When they had all the trees up, you know, before they took those down. All the people round, they give the children a party, we had tables and racing and all that. It was lovely down the Avenue there wasn’t it. I don’t know whether you remember it as it was. But that was lovely down there. My sister-in-lives in The Avenue now and one of them lived in Avenue road so that’s why we went to it.
Q: Were those houses there then? Did they have houses in the Avenue then?
Mrs K: Yes, not so many as they’ve got now.
Q: Because I assumed that the big trees were cut down before the houses but they were still there then?
Mrs K: They were still there then. Some up this end. Because you see that was the way into the Grove, wasn’t it and the top gate, that was the Lodge gate. They used to keep them locked at the top so people couldn’t, all the cars and that, well there weren’t no cars then much was there. That was a lovely road.
Q: So even after the War there were still old trees there were there?
Mrs K: Yes, because they used to have a Mr Finch for the Council and he used to go every year and cut the trees back so they kept just a certain height and then you see they let them grow so high didn’t they. Now they’ve grown up again haven’t they (Q: Yes.). I know it’s nice to have a few trees but perhaps not so nice really to have them get big is it?
Q: No if you’re living there it must be a bit … That reminds me, when you say about the tea party, people talk about the Co-op treat.
Mrs K: Oh yes, used to go to that.
Q: What was that like?
Mrs K: Well they used to have a procession and you could dress up in fancy clothes you know and we used to walk all round the town with the Band. And then we used to go up – you know where the Rec is, where the horses are now. Well we had that and they had all the tables laid out and we had a proper party and then they had a concert party at night, we all had a bag of sweets when we came out. You know there used to be a couple of hundred of us. The Co-op.
Q: [Looking at photo] I think that’s supposed to be a Co-op treat though it’s probably before your time as well. That was the sort of thing?
Mrs K: I don’t remember men having them boaters, no.
Q: It looks a bit, been done a long time.
Mrs K: And not them clothes do you?
Q: No, that’s an older one.
Mrs K: I don’t remember them having clothes like that.
Q: It shows how popular it was doesn’t it. I mean did you have the tea tables outside like that?
Mrs K: Yes, and then, we used to have, years ago, when David was a little boy they used to have an outing to Walton, on the train, used to have a special train and we went for a day out on there, the Co-op did. That was good.
Q: Someone was just saying to me the other day, I think they worked at the Bridge Hospital and they said they always used to have lots of staff outings and coaches and things like that. I don’t suppose it happens so much now as people have cars and things and take themselves places so they don’t miss it.
Mrs K: But Park View, they’re going to alter that aren’t they? Going to build there. That’s a lovely place that Park View, because I go with our church. Once a month we go over there and have communion with them. It’s a lovely old .. They’re looked after well. Because I go to the United Reformed Church. Been there since I was five and I’m 78 now [laugh] Not long. I’m the eldest I think . There’s me and Miss Springett who lives up the road there. I think we’re the oldest members there.
Q: Really. Does Miss Springett come from Witham as well?
Mrs K: Yes, she was born up Hatfield Road. She was a schoolteacher. She lives next door to Mr Malcolm Mead. Oh, does she. Because I had a lady come here the other day and she said would like to have a postal vote. Malcolm Mead had told her about me I think. So I said I might as well. Cause I have to go right over there to vote. She said of course you could have a car. I thought I don’t want a car so I might as well have a postal vote.
Q: Some people you see they get offended if you say do you want a postal vote because they want to go. So you don’t know what to say to people.
Mrs K: No, I don’t want to go. Oh, I’m a great grandma again [laugh] Got two now. Born last Saturday and do know it was a little girl and that weighed ten and a half pounds. Big wasn’t it. They’re in Germany.
Q: So you don’t see them so much?
Mrs K: No, but I shall see her when she comes over but I ain’t going out to Germany [???] thank you.
Q: Still you’ve had your travels. You say you went to Belgium after the War you went back?
Mrs K: Oh yes, several times, and they have been here several times as well but they’re old now like me and can’t go. Still I wouldn’t want to go now.
Q: Still, not that many people went abroad?
Mrs K: We went on the ferry twice and I flew twice. I didn’t care for flying the first time. I said to David, my son, because he came with us the first time. He said ‘look down mum, you’re on top of the clouds’. I said ‘I don’t want to look down’. And when we went on the ferry once, oh we were seasick. I looked at my husband and said ‘You ain’t half green’ He said ‘So are you’. There was David he was a little boy about three laid there asleep. Nice people though. Took my husband and them in, nice people, very good to them.
Q: Its quite interesting isn’t it? To go somewhere different.
Mrs K: We went to Brussels and all those sort of places. They took us about.
Q: When you were little did you go away much?
Mrs K: Well we had an Auntie in Ilford and we always went, Easter, Whitsun, Christmas every year, oh till I was grown up. Now they’ve died. One of me cousins got bombed with her two little children, and killed. They was sitting in the park and a bomb dropped on top of them.
Q: That was in Ilford?
Mrs K: Yes, we went up there every, they used to live in Ilford Lane.
Q: You say you used to stay there?
Mrs K: Oh yes we stayed there with them.
Q: Did you enjoy doing that?
Mrs K: Yes, we used to like it when we were kiddies didn’t we cause we went out. Well people didn’t they. If you hadn’t got any people up there or anywhere.
Q: Yes, well, did you used to think of yourself as reasonably well-off or poor or …?
Mrs K: Oh well, poor really. My Mum had to go out charring and my Dad he was on the building and if there was a frost and that they never worked and he never got any money. And then the glove factory did close for six weeks, they weren’t going to open again no more. So of course we had to go fruit picking and they stopped the money if we didn’t go. We had to walk to Hatfield to go fruit picking and we went there six weeks and they said, my sister said she couldn’t go. So they said well you can have a bike. Yes, hiring a bike wouldn’t much, we did go and do you know the day we finished fruit picking, that six weeks, the glove factory opened so we all went back. Cor, it was a long old walk to right to Hatfield to pick strawberries and currants and, old Miss Dixon. Yes, we had to go.
Q: What she was the one that was in charge was she?
Mrs K; That was her fields you see. Her fruit farm.
Q: Strict was she?
Mrs K: Yes, especially when that was gooseberries. If you left one in the middle she’d come round and say there’s another gooseberry in that tree and that was all pricked. We used to have tickets and we used to have to bring them home and stick them on a card and then take them at the end of the week and she paid the money on what the card come to. No we weren’t well off, far from well off.
Q: And that was when you were quite young still was it.
Mrs K: Yes, when I first started at the glove factory, and my sisters because they both worked up there.
Q: Why did that shut I wonder?
Mrs K: I don’t know, I can’t remember. But it shut for six weeks. They didn’t think they were going to open it any more and then we all had a letter to say we could go back and so of course we all went back. That was, well not long before the War. I wasn’t married. No, I married in 1939.
Q: So that would be in the 1930s then. You say you had to go, who said you had to go fruit picking then?
Mrs K: Well, we went to sign on and they offered us this job of fruit picking, you see, like they do now, you see, and we said we couldn’t go all that way and they said well you won’t get any dole for six weeks. Well, you won’t get any dole, you see. So as soon as the factory opened you see well we thought we’d go back again, so we was alright.
Q: So you didn’t used to go fruit picking otherwise?
Mrs K: No, used to go pea picking with me Mum when I was a little girl. We used to have to pick a bag and then we could play. [laugh] My Mum went because she had to. She’d got three of us to bring up.
Q: Where did you go for that?
Mrs K: Anywhere, we went to Bonners, out along the main road, Wood End is it up Hatfield Road somewhere up there.
Q: Did you like that?
Mrs K: I didn’t mind. They often say, we went up there as children when I was at school we went fruit picking as well and the old gypsies used to be in the sides of the road making tea but they never interfered with anybody did they. Now you daren’t pass them would you?
Q: What they were just?
Mrs K: Just making, having a cup of tea you know, when they were travelling but they were nice and we just to say hello to them, but nowadays I wouldn’t care to come by would you now. You’re not safe these days.
Q: What they had vans did they? Did they have caravans?
Mrs K: No, just walking. (Q: Just walking, oh I see.) A lot of them made pegs you know. Of course Mrs Joyce who lives up near you, she worked up the factory with me. (Q: Did she?) Yes, she worked as long as I did, yes. She can’t walk very well now can she?
Q: She doesn’t do too badly though?
Mrs K: No, not too bad. I always have a card at Christmas I do.
Q: Her grandson is at the school my son is at. But she seems to get along the road sometimes.
Mrs K: Yes, I see her sometimes. But I think Naomi[?] takes her down to do her shopping.
Q: So did you know her when she was a girl as well?
Mrs K: Yes, She was at school with me.
Q: She used to live in Albert Road I think she told me.
Mrs K: Yes, first of all, then they moved down the Maldon Road. Her Mum was a nurse wasn’t she. Her Dad was ever so old when she was born. I think he was about fifty or something when she was born.
Q: She was the only one wasn’t she? (Mrs K: Yes) So when you went on this pea picking you had your sisters?
Mrs K: I went with my sisters. She never came pea picking.
Q: What was it, a crowd of you went was there?
Mrs K: Oh yes, well several, all them Mill Lane, there was Upsons, and all them.
Q: It was quite fun then really wasn’t it?
Mrs K: We did have fun. We used to have a bit of cold fried fish for our dinner. Because they had a fish shop on the corner of Mill Lane, Lawrence’s was, so we always used to have a bit of cold fried fish for our dinner, took it with us. We did, a penny bit of fried fish.
Q: Your Mum had to work all day. It would be a bit harder work
Mrs K: Still, we lived all right anyway. She hadn’t got much money but we were clothed always properly and there was food always properly.
Q: I suppose if your dad was out of work, would he get anything else?
Mrs K: No, he didn’t get any money. No, they didn’t have dole then did they? [Laugh]. So when my mother earnt her money you see she put it away because she had to pay four and six in old money for our house and that belonged to the Gas Works. I used to have to go in the Gas Works and pay it every week. But she never got in debt, poor old girl.
Q: I suppose that was a big chunk of what was going in wasn’t it (Mrs K: Yes it was). Were you paid every week? Did she do any work at home or anything?
Mrs K: No, we only had two bedrooms. Two up and two down, no kitchen or scullery or anything. A front room and a living room, two bedrooms so we had to sleep three in a bed. Still they were good old days really when you look back I think they were. Well, they weren’t so scrappy as what they are now are they. Everyone is out to make some money ain’t they? (Q: Mmm.) I mean after all a lot of the women work don’t they, and a lot of the children sort of run wild don’t they?
Q: Did you used to go far away to play?
Mrs K: Well we went right up Wickham, Wickham woods. I mean you weren’t frightened them days were you. Went up Cressing and right up to Terling. We used to walk in them fields and that. We used to go out for a day, take a couple of bits of bread and used to have those lemonade crystals what we made and a bottle of drink and we was up there all day. Never had nobody attempt anything. But now you wouldn’t go up there would you? I wouldn’t! [???] We did, we used to play in Mill Lane and Drill Yard there, that one street light there on the corner there, we never had no more till as you go up the hill there. Two lights in Mill Lane, that’s all.
Q: So did you go out at night much?
Mrs K: No only just played this lamp. Played tops and hoops and that sort of thing. They don’t have them now do they. They have all these videos now [laugh].
[Chat about Gyford family, not noted]
Q: Did your husband or yourself ever get involved in politics or anything like that?
Mrs K: No. I am Labour [laugh]. (Q: Yes I wasn’t asking that.) That woman she said, she sat there and said ‘Well, I hope your Labour’. And I said ‘Well I am Labour’, so she said that’s what Malcolm Mead had told her. So I said well don’t go next door because she’s blue. No, my Mum was Labour always but my Dad was Tory.
Q: Oh, that’s tricky isn’t it.
Mrs K: Because I remember when Driburg got in, my mum helped pull him through the town. My sisters, all our family, David is Labour and all …(Q: Your Dad didn’t influence …). No. There was more rows when there was voting time than there was any time in the year.. Because my Mum used to get on about the Labour and he used to get on about the Tories. Poor old man, he was a little man, my dad.
Q: But you supported your Mum.
Mrs K: Yes. I did have a postal vote for Len when he was in the Army. Because you did then didn’t you. Because he was Labour. His family really were Liberals but Len was Labour.
Q: Did your Mum do other things, did she work, did she help out during elections as well?
Mrs K: No, she didn’t, only that once she helped him pulling through the town I can remember, but no she didn’t work after that, did ‘t do anything, but she went and voted.
Q: That’s unusual for your dad really, he wasn’t earning very much, and people like that …?
Mrs K: Well I think his family were, cause them days you more or less followed your family a lot of it wasn’t it? His family were all Tory you see and I suppose he was. I think my Mum’s must have been Labour because she was Labour.
Q: Cause you said you said you had a lot of your relatives about. I meant to ask you what the Christian names of your grandparents were?
Mrs K: My Mum’s was Lillian and my Dad’s was Edward.
Q: And your grandparents? Their parents?
Mrs K; My (Q: Perhaps you don’t know?) Yes I do, my grandad was Charlie and grandmother was Emily I think. That was me Dad’s family. But I didn’t know much about me Mum’s family because her Auntie brought her up because there were so many children. They had about twelve each family, my Mum’s and Dad’s. So Half Witham belongs to me.
Q: But your Mum was?
Mrs K: Algar. She was Bickmore before, so all these Bickmores about here and the Ladkins and the Grays.
Q: So did your Aunt have many children?
Mrs K: No she didn’t have any. She had two girls I think, but I think she took my Mum to help her Mum a bit. With twelve children it’s a lot to bring up in little houses. They lived in the Square. [Trafalgar Square]
Q: Did you used to see much of them?
Mrs K: Yes. I had four Aunties in the Square and I used to go down to see them every day, my grandad and granny lived in the Square too. We were all near our family sort of thing. Used to go round. My sister used to go down there and help make some buns for them because my Mum would never let her cook. My Mum would’nt let us do do anything. When i was married and I made a Yorkshire pudding and that went flat and I cried because I’d never made one before. My Mum wouldn’t let us do any cooking.
Q: How did you learn then?
Mrs K: Well I had learn myself as I went along. I got a cookery book.
Q: It’s odd isn’t it because a lot of children seemed to have to help out quite a lot.
Mrs K: Well we didn’t actually have cookery classes at school but we had how to lay a table if you got all that sort of thing, not actually cook.
Q: Was that any used to you do you think?
Mrs K: No. They had to have what I put up now.
Q: It seems strange to learn how to lay a table and not how to cook isn’t it?
Mrs K: Well there was nowhere to cook you see at the schools. Down the Maldon Road I went and there was nowhere to cook down there was there.
Q: Did you have separate lessons for girls and boys?
Mrs K: No, we was mixed. We had separate playgrounds. We didn’t have the same playgrounds. Boys had the one further down the Maldon road and we had one this way. We sat together but we didn’t play together.
Q: But laying the table and that sort of thing. You’d have separate lessons?
Mrs K; Yes, they went to woodwork but they went to somewhere in the town, near Coates, there, the boys used to go there for woodwork [to 124 Newland Street].
Q: You stayed on at school for a bit you said?
Mrs K: Yes, didn’t want to leave. I liked school. You see in them days we didn’t go to further education because they couldn’t afford to send you could they.
Q: Did anybody go to other schools or other places, like, did some people go to Braintree or anything like that?
Mrs K: Yes, they went to Braintree. I didn’t because my Mum couldn’t afford to let me go there. So I had to go out to work. When you only have a little money you can’t do that sort of thing can you. I mean I couldn’t have afforded to send David, even at his age because we were only having two pounds fifty a week then and when he retired from the Co-op was only was only on thirty pounds. He got as much when he was got on the pension as he did when he was earning. He was in the shop up here a long time but he was on the milk round, but then he come in the shop up here. [Braintree Road Co-op] I think it was a pity that little shop shut. Because really that was handy wasn’t it.
Q: Same as the one round the corner from us in Church Street.
Mrs K; What are they doing to that?
Q: Making them into little houses I think.
Mrs K: I thought that’s what they were because there’s boarding up in front of them. [???] I haven’t been down that way. [???] .And you see we used to have our meat delivered to the door, the bread delivered to the door, you see. You ordered your meat one day and it came the next day. The milk was delivered and paid on the doorstep. I know it is now, but …
Q: Was that in Braintree Road? (Mrs K: Yes.) What about when you were in Mill Lane?
Mrs K: We used to have the milkman come twice a day, old Johnnie Newman with a can and a scoop and you had a pint of milk in a jug, twice a day, whether that was snowing, raining or not, he still come round with that. And then if you wanted, mum wanted to make a milk pudding we used to go over to the Dairy in Bridge Street and get a penny pint of skimmed milk for a pudding.
Q: She did let you do a bit of shopping?
Mrs K: Oh yes I did do shopping. We use to have a greengrocer come to the door every Saturday, see. Used to have the rock man from Maldon used to come every Saturday with his little table used to break up the rock and you had a quarter of rock. (Q: Really? He come round the door with that did he?) Yes. From Maldon. Rock man from Maldon. Then they used to come round with shrimps from Maldon.
Q: And you were allowed to have some of those were you?:
Mrs K: Oh yes. We always used to have a pennyworth of rock. We did. We had a lot brought to you, you didn’t have to go shopping all the time.
Q: You didn’t have a garden I suppose there did you?
Mrs K: No, we had a little yard about as big as this room. And my Mum had to hang her all her washing with us three girls in that yard.
Q: Some people had allotments.
Mrs K: My Dad had an allotment up near the Bridge Hospital there. You know where the boys used to be out in that place, perhaps you don’t. There used to be an old compound like and all those boys used to be out there all day. My Dad had a garden field up the side there. So we always had vegetables.
Q: Did you used to have to help with that?
Mrs K: No, my Dad used to go every Saturday or Sunday morning. When I lived in my little house, and he always brought me a bag of vegetables for the week.
Q: So did you see a lot of them after you got married?
Mrs K: Yes, yes. I still [???] Cause my Dad dropped down dead down Maltings Lane. Then my Mum had to go in Allbrights at Colchester, that home. Because she burnt all her money. You daren’t leave her a pound note or anything, she’d burn it straight away. She burnt all the handles off my Dad’s old tools and went down the road for people to give her matches and all that so she had to go away. But it was quite nice in there. She lived a year in there that’s all. She had her own room, bedroom. (Q: How old was she then about then?) She’s been dead about thirty years.
Q: Did she help you with cookery or anything when you were married?
Mrs K: No, she used to come up one day for tea, but she didn’t come up to dinner. My Dad come Sundays and Tuesdays. You see there was three of us, so they had days out.
Q: Did your dad die working?
Mrs K: No, he retired. My sister married, you know Ena Dorking, my sister married her brother, (Q: oh yes). One of them. My other sister married a Bright.
Q: It wasn’t Henry Dorking?.
Mrs K: Yes, Henry Dorking’s brother, John, he had appendicitis and they put him in the oxygen place and that, but it conked out in the night and he died. She had one daughter.
Mrs K: In the Collingwood Road and they were all [???] and old Mr, where Mrs Mann, her son used to push her about, you don’t remember, her son used to push her out in a big old like a chair, with a great old hood on. And if they came along on the path you had to get off for them to go by you. You couldn’t pass them in the road. You had to get off.
Q: What the one in the chair?
Mrs K: All of them, all the nobs in Witham.
Q: What even if there was room?
Mrs K: Yes, that’s the truth. You’ve to ask some of the Witham ones, they know.
Q: What did you think about that then?
Mrs K: Well you had to do it didn’t you. Cause when you were kiddies or young you were afraid of them weren’t you. When they said ‘Get off the path’. And then we get on again when they went.
Q: They told you to get off did they?
Mrs K: Yes, you didn’t have to do that, we did. Captain Abrey, that’s right. It was his wife who was in this big old chair. They had a son, who pushed her about. More like those foreigne ones you know.
Q: So did they ever speak to you any other way?
Mrs K: No, they used to, Abrey and them used to be on the council for the School they used to go down to the School. So they knew you if you didn’t get off.
Q: Did any of them give you any help of anything?
Mrs K: No. Cause my mum used to have a, Heddle’s shop? Do you know where Heddle’s shop was [48 Collingwood Road] (Q: Oh I know) My Mum used to have a club there. Pay a shilling a week for our clothes. Then she had the Co-op because they had the mutualities didn’t they in them days. (Q: What’s that?) Well you could have £10 or how many you liked clothes before you paid for them and they used to come and collect the money afterwards. The charity club that was called.
Q: Did you have to pay it all at once?
Mrs K: No, you paid so much a week till you’d … If you had £10 you would pay sixpence for so many weeks was up till that £10 was up and then you’d have another lot of things.
Q: Because some, perhaps it was before that then that people like the Miss Luards, did they used to come round and collect?
Mrs K: Yes, they used to come round and collect money. They’d let you have, Miss Luard’s what did they used to call it because she nearly always used to come when we were in the bath, cause we had a little tin bath in front of the fire, one of them small ones, not a long one. And my mum’d say, the pence lady used to call them. She used to let you have some stuff and then you had to have to pay one penny a week when she could afford it.
Q: She’d actually come to the door would she?
Mrs K: Oh yes she’d come round properly and collect it. Miss Luards.
Q: What sort of thing would you get with that?
Mrs K: Well, my Mum used to buy like knickers for us and that sort of thing or socks and then she’d come round they used to call her the pence lady.
Q: It’s funny she would take the trouble to come round, I suppose she thought they were helping. So did she speak to you when she came round?
Mrs K: No, because we were always in the bath. We only had one of those little washing baths.. You sat with your knees all up like that you know. And of course we had to bath one after the other because we had to have the copper alight to heat the water. So I used to get in first and then me other sister used to get in, and then the other one did have a fresh one. But I don’t ever remember my Mum and Dad having a bath. No. Not until they had a proper place. Not, I never remember it.
Q: I suppose they washed at the sink or something?
Mrs K: Yes, well we never had a sink, just a bowl on the table.
Q: So how often did you have a bath?
Mrs K: Once a week that’s all, Fridays. We’d have to stand up in the bath and have syrup of figs [laugh]. Honest, it’s the truth I’m telling you (Q: I’m sure it is) Always had syrup of figs on Friday and we always stood in the bath and had it because I didn’t like syrup of figs.
Q: That’s the way things were done.
Mrs K: We had no gas or electric, we had a lamp with a long globe and we used to have to sit round the table and play snakes and ladders or something like that with this lamp in the middle, though it was a Gas Works house. Eventually I think we got one, two gas rings up there but we never had any.
Q: So the water was heated?
Mrs K: Copper. We had a copper. In the kitchen. But my Mum used to cover it with American cloth, so you didn’t know that was a copper and she used to have a little gas ring stand on there. But of course to have a bath. She had to take all this off and have a bath, light the copper. That was in where we lived in. Because we didn’t have any chairs, we only hard chairs. My Mum and Dad had armchairs but we had to have one of these sort. So you had two armchairs. One was the man’s one wasn’t it, one was the ladies one, wooden ones they were. And we had a fire in the front room at Christmas, that was all. Didn’t use the front room only at Christmas.
Q: You didn’t go in there. So what furniture was in there?
Mrs K: There one of them sofas you know, go up high like that, a leather sofa and two leather armchairs and that was quite a nice room but we didn’t go in it.
Q: Did your mum and dad go there?
Mrs K: No, none of us went in there only Christmas. Cor you didn’t know my mum. She was ever so fussy. [Laugh] Honest she was, right up. When I had David and we used to go up there. She used to take the chair backs off the chairs and fold them up so we didn’t lean back on them. We daren’t push the chairs so it hit the wall [laugh] she was very, very particular. And I always said when I married I would never be like that. And yet she was very generous because when I used to take my niece and nephew up with David she always used to give them money you know she was generous like that. Because she had her pension then of course and my Dad he had a pension.
Q: So you if you just had the two rooms downstairs?
Mrs K: And two rooms upstairs.
Q: So you didn’t have a separate kitchen or anything?
Mrs K: No everything had to be done …
Q: So everybody spent their whole life in the back room?
Mrs K: Yes, and that was in an old kitchen. With the old fireplaces with the oven on the side, kitchener fireplaces.
Q: So the cooking was done there? [???] Did you have a table in there?
Mrs K: Yes, table was there, but we’d be in there, yes, and we had chairs to sit round the table. And the coal, when we used to have the coal, like when you open that door there we had a place where the coal had to be shot in there. My mum had a curtain up. Cause there weren’t no doors. She had a curtain up so the dust didn’t come through when they shot the coal in.
Q: So the coal was just in the corner?
Mrs K In the front door. They used to open the front door and shoot in this little alcove place.
Q: So that was at the front?
Mrs K: Yes, at the front in Mill Lane.
Q: The front room was the one you didn’t …?
Mrs K: It was shut off.
Q: You didn’t use it at all?
Mrs K: No, only Christmas.
Q: The front door came right into the front room, so the coal came in there as well.
Mrs K: Mmm. Because when I went courting with Len my Mum did use to light the fire in the front room then, you know when he came to tea but I mean other than that, or when my sisters brought theirs home, they had a fire in the front room. But not without them there. I remember once I got the flu and they come down and she wouldn’t let Len come up and see me lying in bed.
Q: She was very in charge then wasn’t she?
Mrs K: Yes, still, didn’t ought to grumble cause she brought us up well. She brought us up well and we were always fed well and that sort of thing.
Q: Did your father have to do what he was told as well?
Mrs K; Yes, [laugh] He used to have to get up and have a pint, because it was only about a penny a pint then at the Crotchet, do you know where the Crotchet is? (Q: Mmm.) If he’d been out a quarter of an hour too late ‘cor she used to raise the roof because she didn’t like drink. She didn’t like my Dad to drink. Because he worked hard poor old beggar. And it was only a penny a pint. But she never drank my Mum. Only time, Christmas she always had some snapdragons, you know them sultanas in brandy, you know where they set light to them. Yes they set light to them, and you used to have to pick them out while they were on flames, the brandy was burning and you got raisins in there. And she always had that Christmas. I was afraid to pick ‘em out but she never burnt herself. But she always had them Christmas
Q: That was her special thing for Christmas.
Mrs K: Mmm. Well Len didn’t drink but he always had a little hot whisky Christmas night. But he didn’t drink.
Q: What did you used to have for Christmas dinner then?
Mrs K: Well we didn’t have chicken then. We had a lump of beef and we always had a bit of boiled bacon you know and that sort of thing. We had a Christmas tree and an orange in a little bag. We always hung our stocking on the room by the fireplace. We had guards and so we hung our stocking there. We didn’t have any big things mind you. We had a few sweets and a puzzle and that sort of thing, a sugar mouse.
Q: Did you see the rest of the family at Christmas day or was it just yourselves?
Mrs K: Well when we married you see, when my sisters married, quite a while before me and Len’s sisters, the Champs and the Drurys, well we used to go down, Len and I used to go down to theirs for Christmas.
Q: But when you were little you didn’t
Mrs K: No, we didn’t, well we always had [???]
Q: That was a bigger house I suppose.
Mrs K: Oh yes, and I’d got three boy cousins up there. I always remember once they were playing with the matches and they caught something alight, and my Mum and my Auntie had gone to the pictures, so my other cousin ran down and they put it on the screen[?] Mrs Algar and them come over and nearly set the place on fire. [laugh] They come scratting over and the boys got a clip round the ear. Oh dear those were the days. Still I’d rather have them days than now really.
Q: I suppose, you said about your furniture not many people, to have an armchair like this would be quite a luxury wouldn’t it?
Mrs K: Never had anything this sort did we. We had sort of leather ones, didn’t we. (Q: And you say your mum and dad had wooden …) Yes. In the living room, but we had this leather suite in the front room.
Q: But you didn’t sit on that?
Mrs K: No. She had a grand old vase, big old, huge glass thing with all birds in. That was beautiful. When she died my sister gave it to the school at Rivenhall. It was beautiful. I don’t know where it came from. It really was nice.
Q: These wooden, the wooden armchairs did they have any padding or anything like that on?
Mrs K: No, just the wood, just with a cushion to sit on. We had to have one of them.
Q: The same chairs that you sat at the table. Was it this sort of size then?
Mrs K: No, not so big as this. The front room might have been as big as this but the kitchen was ever so small. Still we managed didn’t we? We had a good old fire always you know, them old fashioned fires.
Q: The coal came to the front?
Mrs K: In the front door, not the front room, that was shut off, but the front door, like when you came in mine just there there was a passage down there, and that had to go in there. And the toilet was outside and the tap was outside. Because you went out froze, the tap, used to freeze. That was outside. So if we wanted to go to the loo we had to go outside. But really when we moved from that little road near Paula’s, [Braintree Road]when we came up here, our toilet was outside down there.
Q: I suppose things have really changed. There are not that many now with toilets outside.
Mrs K: I used to go to a friend at Rivenhall, near Rivenhall Oak, and they used to come round with the sewer cart every night and empty her toilets out. (I see). They were down the garden, and they used to come and empty it.
Q: The one you had, did that need emptying, the one you had at Mill Lane did that need emptying?
Mrs K: No that was a flush one. But it was always dark when we went out, had to take a candle out there, because we hadn’t got the electric lights then. Didn’t like going out there but still we had to.
Q: What about washing the dishes and things like that?
Mrs K; Yes, my Mum had to wash them on the table in a bowl. We had a kettle on the kitchener. Cause she’d got water on there. (Q: So you only had the copper really for special ….) For, when Mum did her washing and if we had a bath we had the copper.
Q: People didn’t wash their clothes so much then did they?
Mrs K: Cor, I don’t know, with three girls, you had to.
Q: What sort of things did you wear at school?
Mrs K: My sisters had them lace pinafores, but I had them once I did when I first started but I didn’t have them always. We had ordinary clothes, but my sister my mother got a photograph of my sister and them, we’d got pinafores. They used to have tongs to do the bits of the pinafore, didn’t they? Do you remember – goffering tongs.
Q: Why did you not have one I wonder so much?
Mrs K: I don’t know. They were going out of fashion then weren’t they. Because I was born in 1914 and then when the War was over and then that was going out a bit then, wasn’t it.
Q: But you didn’t help with the washing or anything much?
Mrs K: No, we never had to do anything. She wouldn’t let us do anything. My sister used to go down the Square to my granny’s and do some cooking there because my Mum wouldn’t let her do any. We never done nothing. There comes a bit hard when you’re married doesn’t it. But you soon pick it up don’t you.
Q: Did you have friends to help you?
Mrs K: No, none of them did them. Not who I had in the Lane you know. Mrs. Orrin she lived in the Lane with us. Phyl Driver she was. In that row. We knew all the row, and they were all more or less the same as what we were. Little houses. Only the ones, near the rifle range, they never had no back doors you see. Nor did the Square have any back doors. We did have a back door but they didn’t.
Q: Who actually was in charge of the Gas Works when you were there?
Mrs K: There used to be the Croxalls, they were the head of it. And then there used to be old Bill Grimsey and Joe Grimsey there, I don’t suppose you know them. They used to be in the Gas Works and the chap who used to stutter. Old Bill Gooday. He used to sputter. And there was Miss Hayes [actually Mrs], she was in the office, Mrs Croxall’s, Lucy Croxall, of course they lived there.
Q: Did people like that used to speak to you?
Mrs K: Oh, yes, they were all right. I used to go round with Mrs Croxall quite a bit. When I used to pay the rent to her and went in with it. They weren’t snooty. No.
Q: What did she say?
Mrs K: Oh she’d sit and talk or she’d give me a sweet or a biscuit. They were quite all right. He was all right. They were all all right they were. I will say. (Q: And the other shopkeepers and things like that?) Well there used to be the Ellis’s they were always all right, Billy Woods was all right and then there was Sorrells the butchers, they were all right. And there was Ardley the bakers. I used to go in there most nights in the bakers with Mr Ardley and see him pull the bread out on them long things you know. Yes, they weren’t snooty.
Q: It was only just a few of them?
Mrs K: Yes, who thought they were but they weren’t any different were they?
Q: Did you feel cross with any of them when they ?
Mrs K: Well when you’re kiddies you don’t take much notice. You think that’s the thing done don’t you, really.
Q: If you were out with your mother or your father would they speak?
Mrs K: Well your Dad always used to have to touch his cap and if there was a funeral the men always used to stand still and take their cap off in the road. There’s no respect like that now is there?
Q: No. So if you passed Mr Brown or somebody with your father would he get off the pavement?
Mrs K: No, but he’d have to raise his cap. It was only if we were children on our own, but not when the grown ups were there.
Q: What about your mother?
Mrs K: No, she never got off because she was with me Dad like. But when we were in the town on our own we had to get off. But the men always had to touch their caps, my Dad did.
Q: But they didn’t stop and speak? (Q: Oh no.) What about when Miss Luard came round to collect the pence would she speak to you?
Mrs K: Well no she just used to take the money and go sort of thing, because there was a lot of people on her, she had a long big round to do. Pence lady, poor old girl. Oh dear, those were the days.
Q: And coal, did you sometimes save for coal as well, have sort of coal come round?
Mrs K: No we didn’t have the coal come round. We only ordered it when we wanted it. Well they used to come every week and Mum used to have a hundredweight didn’t they. The only thing we got it cheaper in the summer, you could have a ton for a lot cheaper, but that was all.
[Look at photos]
[chat about photo of mothers and babies]
Q: I know I showed them to Mr Poulter. He knew a lot of them.
Mrs K: Albert. His mum ain’t on there is she.
Q: Did you used to know them when you were?
Mrs K: Oh yes, they always used to go over there with Mr Mawdsley, you know Teddy Mawdsley, I used to look after him. He wouldn’t go to bed without me when he was a little boy. Yes I knew him. I know a lot of them but I can’t think of the names now.
[chat about Albert Poulter writing in the newspaper and books etc., and about whether want drink etc., noted.]
Mrs K: Mr Keeble, he was the manager up the glove factory when I worked, who is the other one?
Q: Don’t know, John Scott – does that mean anything to you?
Mrs K: Oh yes, John Scott he used to work at the Co-op. Used to be the butcher’s boy years ago.
Q: Is that the same one then, he was working at the glove factory there.
Mrs K: There weren’t no Scotts up the glove factory, not that I remember.
Q: Oh this is 1960 – that would be long after you. There’s Richard and John Pinkham, it says, that says 1960 so they’re the younger one.
Mrs K: Yes, they’re the younger ones, Richard and then John. Then there was another one, David Pinkham. There was three of them.
Q: Did you know them at all?
Mrs K: Yes, I knew them. David used to live down Maldon Road and Richard was a blackshirt in the War (Q: Was he?). He lives in Collingwood Road.
Q: How did you know that then?
Mrs K: How did I know he was a blackshirt? Because they used to go about here. There was him and the boy Bradshaw and somebody else. There was three or four blackshirts and they used to wear them black uniforms. (Q: Really?) Mmm.
Q: What, they wore them all the time or just when they were going to something special?
Mrs K: No, they wore them in the evenings when they finished work. We could never understand why Richard was a blackshirt, not really. Because they had a sister. She married a Scotchman too, went to live in Scotland. She used to come down and they used to come round the factory.
Q: So what did people say about them being blackshirts then?
Mrs K: They grumbled but it wasn’t much good was it, they pleased themselves. And the boy from the garage, on the corner of Avenue Road. What was their name. One of them used to be one.
Q: Was that Beardwell?
Mrs K: No, not them, no not.
Mrs K: No not Glover, somebody before them [probably East]. Yes he used to be a blackshirt.
Q: Was that during the War as well or just?
Mrs K: During the War and they used to wear them uniforms
Q: Did they have meetings or anything?
Mrs K: Not that I know of. They might have done in the evenings but I mean we didn’t go out in the evenings in them days. I just went fire watching. That was all I went out in the evening.
Q: That’s funny isn’t it. I mean what was he like then, Richard? It was Richard you said?
Mrs K: He was all right. They were all all right. Because I mean in the War one of the parsons at our church they had a bomb explode in the house didn’t they, and his wife had an eye out. Pictons, weren’t they? [Then 2 Newland Street]
Q: Albert said something about that, yes. Was that the manse?
Mrs K: Yes, in the manse near the cemetery [means war memorial]. Of course the manse is in Collingwood Road now. They’ve gone to the Holy Land this week a lot of them.
Q: Didn’t you want to go with them?
Mrs K: Not at my age. It’s a lot of the young ones really. Gone for ten days, lovely really. Husbands and wives you know, and somebody’s looking after all the children while they’re gone.
Q: Still they did quite a lot of things in the church in your day as well?
Mrs K: Yes, there used to be a canteen for the soldiers years ago. Yes, that’s been a good church for the town, ever since I can remember.
Q: That was a canteen in the last War was it? (Mrs K: Yes.) But that was that run by the church. Who was the minister then
Mrs K: Mr Howes, this man who got bombed. He was the first one then Mr Howe, he was Mr Picton, then Mr Howes, he had about nine children and then we’ve had several since then, you know, Church and Mr Dennis and Mr Lindsey. All them. I always go. I like going to church. I’ve been brought up to it and now it’s somewhere for me to go.
Q: But you said that the rest of your family didn’t go much?
Mrs K: No, they went to their church. They were confirmed but I wasn’t. Well, I think I went with sort of a few of us and they would choose our church you know, and then that’s where I met Len and so I kept to this. I never went to church ever. My sisters did, they were confirmed. I was christened at church.
Q: It didn’t cause any trouble between you?
Mrs K: No, not at all, [???] (Q: You were married at …?) United Reform. My sisters were married at church you know, up here.
Q: I suppose all these important people you were talking about would go to St Nicholas would they?
Mrs K: Yes, most of them. That Mr Afford and Mrs Rees, she was from Braxted, don’t suppose you remember her. Her Dad was something in the Parliament and Mr Afford who used to have the bookshop and some of the old Browns, the people who worked, and Palmers the bakers, they used to come to ours.
Q: So who were the ones that sort of ran the clubs and things like that?
Mrs K: Well, anybody really.
Q: Did most people go to one or other of the churches when you were small?
Mrs K: Yes, they were, this one up here, [Rickstones Road] this one wasn’t built that used to be a Mrs Blyth, she used to live on the corner of Avenue road and she started it there and then she had it at the Mill, the old Mill, down the Valley, and then they had this place built up here. (Q: [???] Avenue Road) Yes, when that first started.
Q: There was quite a lot of different ones wasn’t there really.
Mrs K: Yes, there’s Methodists, and Peculiars, and these up here and Bethel.
Q: The Peculiars are the ones in the Valley now?
Mrs K: Yes, they all get several there now. We get a lot going. Well we do, we get a lot.
Q: So, on a Sunday when you were small did you do anything else?
Mrs K: I went to the Sunday School and then as I got a bit older I went to what they called the Bible Class and then when I got older I went to a Primary teacher in the Sunday School. Then I went in the choir and then I sort of married and I still go. [Laugh]
Q: Sunday School was in the afternoon?
Mrs K: Yes, two o’clock. (Q: And you went to church as well?) Yes I went to church in the morning. We went to Young Worshippers League they used to call it first. We used to go there and then come into the church, and of course our church was different then. They’d got you know seats for the well off at the back and all that, wasn’t this big place like it is now. We’ve just finishing paying for that. [laugh] Two hundred and some odd thousand we paid.
Q: So you wouldn’t have much time left afterwards would you on Sunday.
Mrs K: No, and then I used to go to church at night because I was in the choir so I spent all my Sunday at church really. Saturday night we went to the pictures. I used to go to the pictures and get two tickets. Len was at the Co-op then. They never used to shut till eight then so they used to have curtains round the back of the pictures so the courting couples could sit behind the curtains. I used to get two tickets and then Len used to come in. [laugh] (Q: [???]) They used to have the cinema there in the public hall years ago when I was a kiddy. Used to go for a penny ha’penny. The Clarkes from Hatfield ran that. That was penny ha’penny the hard seats and tuppence the plush seats. So we used to have a penny ha’penny and a ha’porth of bulls eyes or something like that.
Q: Did you manage to find enough money, I know it sounds not much but it was probably quite hard to find money even for that was it?
Mrs K: And I used to run people’s errands. There used to be some old ladies live opposite there and one used to give me thruppence to shop and one used to give me tuppence and I used to shop for the old people.
Q: And you were able to keep that were you?
Mrs K: Oh yes, didn’t give that to me Mum. We all used to shop for the old people. Albert Poulter’s Mum, she used to go over there quite a lot. Because I know Teddy Mawdsley. Thursdays she always used to cook fish and chips for Mr Gage up the town at the hairdressers. So I used to have to go every Thursday to the town to take this fish and chips to him . She used to give me sixpence to take them. Poor old Mrs Poulter. I liked her though.
Q: Why did she cook for Mr Gage ?
Mrs K: Her daughter used to work in, there used to be a tobacconists in the Square so her daughter worked in the tobacconist you see and she kept up there while he had his dinner and I used to take his dinner up, poor old girl.
Q: This was after her daughter had finished working there. Oh her daughter was working up there.
Mrs K: Her daughter was working up there then. Then they finished the shop you see. Then that was the dentist, that was Mr Howson had a hairdressers up there you see.
Q: I mean when you took the fish and chips was that after the shop had closed?
Mrs K: No, her daughter used to keep the shop open you see, while he went out the back and had this fish and chips. Then she used to come home to dinner.
Q: There were other Poulters would be there. There was Charlie as well wasn’t there.
Mrs K: Charlie. Yes, he’s still about isn’t he. And then there was another son, Tom, and Albert had got a sister Ethel. Then there was Maud, married Mr Mawdsley, Teddy’s Mum.
Q: That was all up the main street?
Mrs K: Yes, down there they used to have a shoe menders shop, just near Sorrell’s the butchers there, near the Doctors, somewhere near there.
Q: Was his father still alive then?
Mrs K: No, I didn’t ever know Mr Poulter. She must have been made a widow a long time because I didn’t know his Dad.
Q: So the boys did the shoemaking.
Mrs K: Yes. Charlie did.
Q: I don’t think Albert ever did the shoes, did he?
Mrs K: No, Albert didn’t, he worked at Bright’s first, the solicitors first. Then I don’t know where he went, to the garage up Rivenhall way didn’t he?
Q: I think he went away a bit to his auntie or something as well.
Mrs K: Poor old Albert.
Q: Who were the old ladies, you said there were some old ladies opposite gave you money for shopping, who were they?
Mrs K: One was old Dottie Emmons, what we used to call her, one was Mrs Taylor, and another one was Mrs Stoneham and the other one was Mrs Ross. They used to keep the Blue Posts [126-8 Newland Street]. Do you remember, well you don’t know the Blue Posts in the town, that’s where the stagecoaches used to pull up at. They used to keep that. Then they finished with the Blue Posts and came and they come and lived here you see.
Q: Was it the Blue Post still when you were small? That was a pub was it? Where Coates is ?
Mrs K: Yes. Somewhere there.
Q: So you still called it the Blue Posts. That’s where the stage coaches used to stop. Then the huntsmen, they all used to meet at the Spread Eagle every Saturday. Hounds. We used to go and watch them. They used to have a drink, you like they do and then they used to go off.
Q: Cause you didn’t go to school Saturday? (Mrs K: No.).Before you went to work you had quite a bit of time to yourself didn’t you?
Mrs K: Yes, we left off school at four. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t work anywhere. Only do this little bit of shopping for the old girls, you know, but I didn’t work. I think I worked long enough when I was working, didn’t I, half past seven in the morning till six at night. Saturdays half past seven till twelve. And an hour for dinner. That’s a lot of work. A lot of work and a lot of walking.
Q: And you just had to sit there all that time?
Mrs K: Yes, all that time.
Q: You said there were 150 there. It doesn’t look as if it was big enough to get that many in. Must have been quite crowded was it?
Mrs K: No, they had one side like that with the strap and you had people that side and that side and they had a piece in the middle where they used to look the gloves over. Then they had another piece that side with the thing that goes through each side. And then you see they had another little room up the top where they used to do the buttonholes and all that you see and then of course there was the puffing room downstairs where they put all these gloves on these hands. There was about ten down there. Then the cutting shop, there was about ten or twenty down there cutting all the gloves out.
Q: And was there an office as well?
Mrs K: Yes, there was an office. You had to go down there if you’d done anything wrong. [(laugh]
Q: Did you ever do anything wrong?
Mrs K: Once or twice [laugh]
Q: What did you do?
Mrs K: I can’t remember? [Laugh] They used to have a meeting down there to see if things were going well, to the older ones, Mr Pinkham.
Q: What, with you, you mean? What sort of meeting would he have?
Mrs K: Well he’d say something about the holidays. Do you want paid at a certain rate and certain rate for the gloves. It went up a bit each time. Because I mean you used to have to do twenty-four gloves for about four pence. That was a lot of gloves.
Q: These were meetings that everybody came to? (Mrs K: Yes.) And he’d speak to you. So did anybody ever join in or did he just …
Mrs K: No he just told us, I didn’t join in much.
Q: Did anybody else discuss anything with him?
Mrs K: No, not much.
Q: So he wasn’t really asking you expecting an answer then?
Mrs K: No, [laugh]. Because you know when I was up there, you know, she was Freda Wade, she lived up St Nicholas Road, didn’t she, she died not long ago. What was her married name. A tall person she was. She used to be a manageress up there latterly.
Q: So there were women in charge of you?
Mrs K: Yes, used to have to take your work, you see there was another little room where you went up and they gave you like a bundle with about four dozen gloves, see, you took it down and made it then you put them back and they put it in a book how many you’d done.
Q: Then if they checked them and found they weren’t perfect?
Mrs K: No, the ones on the middle table checked them. They checked them. The ones on the middle table. Sat all day with a pair of them things you put up the gloves, looking for holes. If the machine slipped a bit you see, you’d leave a hole wouldn’t you?
Q: Did they get them before you handed them in?
Mrs K: Yes.
Q: So when you finished them …
Mrs K: You took them to them, then they took them. Sometimes you had some back, sometimes you never.
Q: Suppose you were talking too much or something? Did you get told off?
Mrs K: No, you wouldn’t do so much work would you?
Q: Did anybody tell you off for that?
Mrs K: No. But we used to sing with Workers Playtime. Mr Keeble used to come from his office cause he was in the office, and used to come up and say ‘You’re not supposed to sing with it, you’re supposed to sit and listen’. (Q. Did he?) We had to shut up. Like a clown, he did. He couldn’t bear us to sing with it. No. He was strict.