Listen to: Reminiscences of life as an apprentice

 
 

 

Ref. No.: WFN155
Date of Audio: 1998.

When I was 14, I didn't want to work on the farm, so I wanted to be a dress maker, my Aunt's well, they were shocked, whoever thought of the country girl going to work in town! Anyhow, my mum was on my side and we went down to W.H. Watts in Church Street, which is now Mark's and Spencer, and I got an apprenticeship there. So anyway, when my aunties heard I got the apprenticeship, they said 'we will give her three months she'll be tired of cycling to Kirkby station, going on the train, walking down from Exchange to Church Street, working from nine till six. In the morning, leaving home just after half past seven, and getting home after half past seven, so I thought I will have to prove myself here, and I was there for six and a half years, when Compton House it was a family firm and they retired because the sons. When I had been there three months when the Alderman Watts who was 99, he died. Have you heard about the Alderman Watts? No? There a fire engine I think at Longmore Lane that was named after him and he lived at the slopes at Gateacre with his unmarried daughters, Miss Lillian and Miss Annie and we used to sew for all of them in our workroom, we didn't do anything for the shop, only when we had an alteration hand who was a tailoress, if coats wanted shortening or sleeves but otherwise we had our own private customers and there was about eleven of us in the workroom, yes we did, but I did have a shock when I first got there, one of the duties of the apprentices was to pick the pins up, we didn't have a magnet, and to light the gas fire, thing to heat the irons, I'd never been use too gas, well when they flutter this gas thing it bangs doesn't it! I was terrified, and every other morning I did that.

(Alice Wharton)




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