Working Lives

Putting the books together (1934-1980s)

Location: Fakenham.

Marjorie talks about working in a printing works in Fakenham, running a pub and owning a guesthouse.

I was born in Fulmodeston in 1920. My parents were Albert and Edith Barnes, Dad was a farm worker and my mother was a housemaid. I had one brother and he was a carpenter.

You had to leave school at 14 in my day and go out to work, there wasn’t any higher education, no my darling, no. I only had one job, a proper job, here at the printing works in Fakenham, and I started work in June 1934, and stayed for six years.

I came here for an interview and I worked on the collating benches, you put all the sections of the books together. The working conditions were alright. You had your bench what you worked at and your working conditions were perfectly alright.

I had to bike six miles every day to work and six miles home, I think, my darling that it used to take me half an hour to bike here and another half an hour to bike home. I would work from eight in the morning to six at night and I had only half an hour for lunch. My aunt lived here and, my darling, I used to go to hers for lunch, take my packed lunch and eat it at hers.

I didn’t receive any real training and we didn’t have to wear a uniform, just your ordinary clothes. I didn’t have long hair but if you did that’d have to be tied back.

You had to be in by 8am when the bell went and if you were late you had to lose quarter of an hour. The door was always locked at 8 o’clock and if you were on the wrong side of that door you had to keep out there ‘til quarter past eight and then they would let you in. That quarter of an hour would be docked from your pay at the end of the week.

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

I used to save up and buy some clothes. You could get a nice dress from Aldiss at that time for five shillings and you could get a pair of shoes for five shillings too. So I had to save them sixpences up till I got enough to get anything. I didn’t have a grocery bill though, my darling, my mother had that.

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


In the summertime my friend and I used to bike to Wells, go for a paddle, and well we used to go for long walks. We used to walk up the New Road at Fulmodeston. I made friends at work, but I am sorry to say they are all dead now.

Helping the war effort and other jobs

After working at the printing works, 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 know. I did that for two years. I liked leading the horse, of course, I’m very fond of animals.

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

I did that for 34 years, until I retired and came up here to the other end of town. I used to take nine people in just about every night and then it was just my husband and I, and Ian.

Marjorie (1920-2014) talking to WISEArchive on 2nd February 2012.

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