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Recorded Memories

Eileen Robinson Interview. December 2000.

‘Parratt’s, closed now, we used to have some laughs there…he was so funny’

At the time of the interview Eileen was working at HJ Hall’s. We continue to look at photos while Eileen recorded her memories of the various places she’s worked over the years. Eileen enjoyed working at Parratt’s, which was on Upper Bond Street, in a building next to Jennings factory. Parratt’s made underwear, mostly briefs but diversified into bodystockings. Eileen worked as a floater and did every job except the cutting. She liked her boss, ‘he was nice and he was funny’ – one time he followed a police car just to see what was going on; one Saturday morning he was standing on one of the tables and giving a running commentary on the weather – it was snowing, ‘it’s getting quite deep… somebody has had an accident, there’s a car crashed out here’, and he made us all get up on the table. Eileen was looking at a photo of the three old women who worked at Toon’s on the winding machine and they had each worked at the factory for 63 years and Eileen mentioned a women working at Hall’s who had been with the company for 43 years having started at 15, there were also other employees with similar work histories.

Eileen didn’t feel that she was suited to factory work and it wasn’t something she wanted to do but, ‘got stuck, the money keeps you in a factory’. At one time money was better than working in a shop but now the other way round and also the feeling that you can’t do anything else – ‘you do get brain dead, you do get brain dead, most of the jobs you do you don’t have to think about, you just do them…I know I’m in the wrong job’. She does enjoy working at Hall’s but wishes she was doing something else. She left school on the Friday and started work the following Monday at George Ward’s factory in Mancetter. Eileen has had lots of different jobs over the years, not just in the hosiery and boot and shoe and talks quite a lot in detail about a cable company she worked at, she was the only woman at the time until her daughter also joined the workforce and her daughter also worked at Parratt’s for a short time but thought of working in a factory as ‘the pitts’ but as Eileen pointed out people work in factories to keep the country going – no shops, no industry. She also pointed out that some people she’s known continued to work in a factory more for the social aspects, not because they needed the money. Over the years Eileen has worked for some good companies and worked with some great people and had some good laughs. The sort of thing that interests Eileen is the social side – hospitals, social work, prison but with no training and young children it was difficult to change jobs.

When she worked at Davies’s it was suggested to her to apply for a job at Sunnyside Hospital, she had no qualifications except for her
St Johns Ambulance certificates and because of this she was offered a job at the hospital, she was also given a wonderful reference by her supervisor. It was the mid-60s when she worked at Sunnyside and she was married in 1964 just before her 21st birthday. Eileen also remembers that all the young girls were given a medical check-up by a doctor who came to the factory, this she found very embarrassing.Eileen’s husband also worked at Hall’s, he was in charge of all the stock in the warehouse among other things and when someone left that person’s job was split between various people. She thought of him as being too clever to be working in a factory but didn’t have the confidence to fulfil his ambitions. Although he had a very responsible job, he wasn’t very well paid and some of the girls on the factory floor earned more money than he did.

Neck linking was the first job that Eileen was taught when she first started work but found it very difficult. It was also hard on the eyes – ‘you’d got to be precise if you don’t you got holes, or the whole thing falls apart’. She was learning the neck linking for a few months and gives a good description of the process and there was one particular part which she couldn’t do. Linking on tights would have been much harder because tights were much finer than jumpers, ‘I admire anybody who can do that’.

Eileen's Interview No2.
Run time 18 minutes & 42 seconds.

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