Working class jobs for working class girls

I was totally inspired and mesmerised by Cogdog’s blog post last Christmas titled “Voices from Aisquith Street” in which he was talking about a recorded conversation with his Aunt Dorothy regarding childhood memories and stories of his mum.

I was particularly taken by this because the day before on the 28th December I’d recorded a conversation with my Mum and on inspection had not set GarageBand up correctly and it didn’t record. DAAARRRRN!!!!!! I did instantly transcribe what I could remember about tales of growing up in Essex and being evaluated during WW2. My mum is from a large family of 17 children, and there is a family trait that once they get ‘air time’ in a conversation they do not stop. I have been known to arrive at my Mum’s and that she is still talking 8 hours on. She is remarkable at the age of 80 years now, her stories are lucid, compelling and of a completely different time.

Anyhow – here is what I transcribed for the “War Story”. –> PDF Conversation with Mum


A Christmas (I believe) shot of the family – probably late 1950’s. Mum on the back row.

I was just about to leave on New Year’s Day when she embarked on an entirely fresh new story of  growing up as a girl and memories of the household. It is a slice of social history, boring to most no doubt, but I am endlessly overwhelmed by how her life was so different to mine. I have an education. They had little. I went to university  My Aunts worked in munitions factories from the age of 14 years.


Here is Mum chatting away, with her Granddaughter Hannah and myself chipping in.

The conversation started with the fact they had no toys and had to make do! They didn’t seem any less happy for it.

First conversation –>


MUM 1 – Recollections of home made scooters, rag and bone men, pig bins, and coal coming down the Thames on barges; (at 5 minutes) repairing shoes and boots, Mr Griffiths at the Co-op, fixing the shoes – snobbing, doing the washing in the copper; (10 minutes) fixing the shoes, electricity, the shoe-cleaning cupboard in the kitchen, detachable collars, hat brushes hanging in the kitchen; (16.30 mins) Fords Factory changing shifts and “men were just like zombies”, Mr Cole the Pastry Cook!

Second conversation –>


MUM 2 – Playing marbles in the gutter, road sweepers, Army marching to Dagenham Dock which made Nan cry, the Prudential Insurance man, no family allowance until 1948 (and Granddad was appalled), London Blue Coat School; (6.18 mins), depression in the 1920s between the wars, the rise of women having to work; (8.30 mins), carbolic soap and soda, feeding the fire for the copper with all the scraps; (11.15 mins) the mangle in the back garden, (sorry for the bit of noise disturbance for the rest of this bit), (12 mins) doing the ironing!


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