Ada Caldwell’s work as a Ship Chandlers clerk in Glasgow

I was 15 when I had my first job as a clerk in a Ship’s Chandlers Office in Bridgeton, Glasgow in 1950.  I worked for 11 months there. I had an hour for lunch and there were about 6 of us in the office.  Health and Safety was non-existent, it was dirty, my desk was in a corner and I had men working behind me.  I didn’t have any training for the job.   I was good at Maths and did the books but noticed when I was there that the typists and the Comptometer model ST Super Totalizercomptometer operators were getting more money, so I went home and told my parents and they suggested I went to College to learn about business machines.  I went to Burroughs College in Glasgow.  I was very lucky because my parents were able to finance my education – my Dad was a Bookie.  I stayed there for 18 months and then worked on comptometers, the forerunners to computers.
I remember going to the Youth Club in Bridgeton.  It was run by the church which was linked to the Iona Community and every year they took a lot of the poor kids from Bridgeton, the Gorbals and Garngad for a fortnight on Iona.  We all loved it, I went for 6 years running, and I think they were the best holidays I’ve ever had.

I met my husband at the Youth Club, we were both 14, but unfortunately he had TB and was lucky enough to go to a sanitorium in Switzerland for about 18 months to aid his recovery.  This was organised by Glasgow Council who chose the children by ballot.  About a third of all chldren died of TB in Glasgow at that time.  My mother didn’t approve of our courtship and hoped that I would find someone else while he was away.  She didn’t like the idea that he had TB because she also had it, and predicted I would be a widow by the time I was 50 and she was right, but I married him all the same and we went to live in Canada.

Ada Caldwell from Forres was interviewed by Heather Heppenstall, WRVS volunteer

Additional information

Iona community websiteMore information about the Iona Community

There is an Iona Community house in Glasgow.


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