Factory Work

Working for Taylor’s underwear by Barbara

Barbara  was born in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Her first ever job was in Taylor’s Underwear to sew buttons on combinations and vests. After leaving school in 1927, aged 14 her auntie was given the task of finding her a job. Luckily she succeeded and started work immediately. She worked all week from 8am to 6pm with a 1 hour lunch break in between. Her days off were on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Each week her wage was 7d.and because she was only 14 years of age she gave her weekly wage to her mother. Her tasks in her job were to button up combinations and vests.

During her time at Taylor’s, Mr Taylor built another room for making woollen dresses. Barbara thoroughly enjoyed working at Taylor’s Underwear. She reckons the equipment that is used nowadays is much more improved. Barbara told us that when she did in fact work on machines; she noticed an improvement in the 8 years she worked there. Taylor’s Underwear was a very safe environment to work in, but if anything did happen it was entirely your fault. She learned a lot from her first job.

In Barbara’s time off she enjoyed dancing on Mondays and Fridays, shopping on a Saturday afternoon and watching movies on the big screen at the cinema. Sadly she had to leave her job at Taylor’s Underwear after getting married. She has had many other jobs in her lifetime including working as a machinist and making blouses in Nottinghamshire.

Hucknall Taylors underwearTaylor’s Underwear was built by the Taylor brothers on King Edward Street in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. To find some more information on the businesses in and around Hucknall, please click the link below:


Working in a shoe factory by Rita May Innes

Shoe press in Shoe Lane Leicester.The shoe-making machine in the picture is a post machineRita started work in Stead and Simpson’s shoe factory in Leicester at the age of 16. Her job was as a general runabout taking messages all over the factory and serving tea from the tea trolley. Rita used to machine the leather on the machine. In another department the men cut out the shoes from a pattern placed on the leather. The traditional roles were women machining and men cutting. A forewoman was in charge. Leicester was famous for making shoes.

Rita’s next job was at a dress shop on Melton Road. She had to clock in and had to pay a penny if she was late.

Dressmaking skills
Her next job was in a Dress shop which sold gowns, as they were called then. There she learnt how to sew, alter trousers, skirts and gowns along with other skills which were very useful to her and those who knew her. Often she would find at home after work a large pile of alterations brought by friends and neighbours, that needed to be altered.

She used to knit Aran jumbers for herself and the family. She did not find the patterns difficult to follow. Unfortunately arthritis prevents her from knitting now.

Additional Information

BBC Leicester ShoemakingBBC Radio Leicester Website exploring the Leicester Shoemaking Industry. Listen to Leicester listeners talking about working in the shoemaking industry. There are other links to information about the Leicester Shoemaking Industry.

Mary Riddell’s sewing work during the war
Mary started work in a biscuit shop and grocery. She came up to Lossiemouth with her husband who was an engineer. Her sewing skills came in useful making things for the airmen which worked at the base.

1939 film of the Fishing fleet in Lossiemouth
Regal Cinema opened in Lossiemouth in 1939
RAF Lossiemouth History It was built in 1938-9

Working in a carpet factory by Katherine Reynolds
Katherine started her working life in Gray’s Factory, Ayr in 1940. It made carpets but had moved into the manufacture of blankets and rugs in air force blue for the war department. Katherine had to take wool and patterns to the carpet machine using a wheelbarrow. She also had to work in the canteen if anyone was ill. Her work pattern involved day and night shifts.

Other Links
Scottish screen archive film information
Scran image of the factory
RLS archive information on the factory (look at the bottom of the page on the RLS site)