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Recorded Memories

Doreen Thomas Interview. June 2000.

The Argee straight from school in 1945:
'I'm not blowing me own trumpet, I was a good machinist'

'We used to get penalty points if you were late... have a system...
prize for good time keeping and good work'

Doreen remarked that if an employee was late you were given penalty points and they had a system whereby every year one girl was presented with a prize for good time keeping and good work. One year when she was about 16 she was persuaded by her mum to attend an Argee ‘do’ down Barwell and to her surprise she was presented with the good time keeping and good work prize by Mr Gildersgame.
Doreen commented on the fact that she was lucky, ‘I could always pick up work and get quite quick at it and do it quite well. I used to do all the samples. 'I must have been good’.
We are looking at photos of the Argee and Doreen is describing the layout of the factory – upstairs was a room full of machines, flatlock, overlock, and post machines which were placed on the corners of the benches. Downstairs the packers pressed the completed garments before packing.
She then describes the overlocking and flatlocking. She does mention that working on black material was difficult.
While looking at the various photos she mentions that when she first got married they rented a house on Gees Row, a small terrace just a couple of minutes walk from the factory.
While working at the factory they had a scheme whereby everyone paid about 6d [2½p] a week and one of the girls was chosen to buy a record. They always had a collection when someone got married.
She remembers Mr Gildersgame as being a ‘really good boss’. There was no union at The Argee but when she worked at Toons she did belong to the union also mentioning that they never went on short time at The Argee but they did have days off at Toons
Doreen remembers how Earl Shilton and Barwell used to share films. The picture house was just off Station Road, (where Bethel Nursing Home now stands) and there also used to be a roller skating rink. The picture house in Barwell was situated opposite the old chapel on Shilton Road in what was Faulkes’s electrical shop (now closed).
At ‘Harry’s’ the seats cost 3d, 6d, 9d, 1s and 1s.9d, [1p, 2½p, 4p, 5p, & 10p] the back two rows had twin seats.
The picture house had a tin roof and when it rained ’it was that noisy you couldn’t hear the film’. If there was a lot of noise someone we called ‘Shadow’ would come round and say, ’I know who the troublemakers are’.
Doreen went dancing with her friends on a Saturday night - Earl Shilton Working Men’s Club, The George and sometimes a busload would go to Coalville. She remembers Englebert Humperdink performing at Earl Shilton Working Men’s Club before he changed his name and became famous.
They went to the cinema in Hinckley on a Sunday evening – the favourite cinema was The Odeon, where the Nationwide Building Society stands today. The cinema had a big foyer with photos of the stars and two staircases. To sit on the balcony cost 2s. 3d [11p].
Doreen went into Leicester with her mum every Saturday and every month her mum would buy her a new dress from C&A. When she first started work she ‘tipped-up’ her wages to her mother who would give her, ‘so much back’ but once she went on her ‘own time’ she paid board and lodge.
She got married in 1950 and they rented a house in Gees Row, bought a plot of land and built a bungalow which they moved into with their two sons in 1960.

Doreen's Interview No2.
Run time 22 minutes & 37 seconds.

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