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Recorded Memories

Lilian Coley Interview. September 2001.

Work and family in an industrial village 1917-1961:
‘I happened to get a bit quick…don’t you think that’s a lot of money for a girl your age…’

‘I remember one of the boys crying ‘cos he’d got to stop [at school] another year’

Lilian was on her feet all day but never felt tired but commented that she did feel tired after a days work at Minard’s sitting down all day! She preferred the welting to the S&Gs. All her foreladies she thought of as nice people. Lilian was the youngest in the family, she was born in 1904. She remembers peace being declared and being ‘filed down the Hollow’ where 5000 people had come together. The state pension introduced by Lloyd George was a ‘Godsend’ Not much money about in those days, not like it is today. People didn’t need cars, so many factories.

Sometimes workers would start at 6.30 if there was overtime. She remembers Mr Bradbury being a nice man and Mr Norton married Mr Toon’s daughter Gladys. He was tall and handsome. The knitting machine on which she made the tops of boys socks was a very simple machine to use, not as complicated as the S&G. There was a stand to rest the colours on and Lilian thinks she was the only person who did this job. The XL knitting machines made the ‘army greys’ - ‘ever so many XLs’, all worked by men.

We looked at some photos, Lilian mentioning that the various skips contained different yarns and an operative would replenish his or her own yarns. The S&Gs were downstairs and the welters and seamers were upstairs at Norton and Bradbury. She remembers a relaxed atmosphere at Minard’s.

She remembers one boy crying because he had to stay on at school for another year, he hadn’t made his attendance. Lilian referred to the Toon’s, Cotton’s and Whitmore’s as being rich people. Mr Cotton’s son married an American lady, who was very nice, and she was involved in the St John’s Ambulance group in the village, taking two girls from the Baptist Sunday School to Malta for a special service.

Bradbury’s was situated just behind Ashfields (it had once been the Bowling Green pub) on Keats Lane. Lilian’s mother was born in 1871 and Lilian seems to think she worked at a Boot and Shoe factory on Wood Street, where the ‘arcade’ is now, it was situated at the back of two white houses and owned by a Mrs Coley.

Lilian remembers a Niantic knitting machine at Bradbury’s. All the old buildings gone, all change now - ‘things alter because there are so many discoveries’.

Lilian's Interview No4.

Run time 24 minutes & 5 seconds

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