Putting the Books Together (2010)

Location : Fakenham.

Where were you born?


Your date of birth

May 1920.

Did you go to school at Fulmestone?


What did your parents do as an occupation?

My dad was a farm worker and my mother was a housemaid.

Did you have any brothers?


What was his job?

He was a carpenter.

How old were you when you left school?

Fourteen. You had to leave school at 14 in my day and go out to work.

So there wasn’t any higher education?

No, my darling, no.

What was your first job?

I only had one job, a proper job, was here at the printing works in Fakenham.

Do you remember what date it was. When it was?

It was 1934. I started work in June 1934.

And how long did you do that job?

How long? Six years.

Can you describe what type of job you did?

You put all the sections of the books together.

How did you get the job?

Well I came here and went for an interview.

In the mornings from Fulmestone, what method of transport did you take?.

A bicycle. I had to bike six miles every day and six miles home.

How long did you take travelling to and from work?

I don’t know, my darling, I think that used to take me half an hour to bike here and another half an hour to bike home.

So an hour in total?


How many hours a day would you work for?

From eight in the morning to six at night.

Did you have any lunchbreak, or coffee break?

Yeah, I had only a half an hour.

For the job did you receive any formal training?

No, not really.

Did you need to wear uniform?

No just your ordinary clothes.

Long hair – was that meant to be tied back, if you had long hair?

That ‘d have to be tied back, but I didn’t have long hair.

At lunchtime where did you eat? Did they have a canteen?

No, my darling, my aunt lived here and I used to go to her’s. Take my lunch and eat at her’s.

So it was like a packed lunch?


What type of working conditions did you work in?

The working conditions were alright. You had a bench what you worked at and your working conditions were perfectly alright.

Was there like a signal to start and end of lunch Did you have a bell?

A bell? Yes, you had to be in by 8 when the bell went and if you were late you had to lose a quarter of an hour.

Lose a quarter of an hour? What do you mean by that? Pay?

The door was always locked at 8 o’clock and if you were on the wrong side of that door you had keep out there till quarter past eight and then they would let you in and that quarter of an hour would be docked from your pay at the end of the week.

Oh, how interesting. So after the job at the printing works did you have any job after that?

You had to do something to help the war effort. So on the farm where my dad worked I used to go and lead the horse when my dad was drilling the corn and that. And that’s the only work I did, because the war was on, you see, the Second World War. Yeah, that’s the only one.

So you lead the horse around the field …

For drilling the corn. When my dad was setting the corn for the next year I used to have to lead the horse.

So how long did you do that for?

About two years.

When you were leading the horse, did you work with other people?

Only my dad.

In your working career, what did you enjoy most?

I can’t really say my darling. I liked leading the horse. Of course, I’m very fond of animals.

Roughly when you were in the printing works, how much pay did you receive?

Oh, you started with two and sixpence a week and the top money was seven and sixpence and that’s what you got. I used to take home two and sixpence when I started I used to give my mum the two shillings for my keep and I used to keep the sixpence.

What type of thing did you spend your sixpence?

I used to save up and buy some clothes. You could get a nice dress from Aldiss’s at that time for five shillings, and you could get a pair of shoes for five shillings, so I had to save them sixpences up till I got enough to get anything.

So did you have a grocery bill?

No, my darling, my mother had that, you see.

How much time did you get off each week?

Sometimes we had to go in on a Saturday morning, but not very often. We had Saturday and Sunday off.

On your Saturdays and Sundays off, what would you do for recreation?

Well my friend and I – this is the summertime – we used to bike to Wells, go for a paddle, and well we used to go for long walks.

How long roughly were your walks?

Oh, we used to walk up the New Road and Fulmestone. About two miles.

A long walk. In your career, in your two jobs, did you make any friends at work?

Yes, I made friends at work. But I am sorry to say they are all dead now.

After the two jobs you told me about, was there any other jobs after that?

Well, my darling, I kept a pub for fifteen years and then I moved away into Suffolk and I had a shop and then I came back here because I wanted to be near my mum and dad and bought that place down Wells Road and took in guests.

And how long roughly were you taking in guests?

Thirty four years.

Till I retired and came up here to the other end of town.

How big was your guest house? How many people could you take in there?

I used to take nine about every night.

How many people did you employ?

That was just my husband and I.

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