Working Lives

The Kitchen Maid (1920s to 1930s)

Location: Thetford

Alice’s family moved to Thetford when she was two years old in 1917. She worked as a kitchen maid, and had a happy young life going out dancing and swimming with friends.

My Dad  worked at Burrell’s Works. My Mum stopped at home, looked after us children. I had two sisters and one brother. Annie the eldest, Eileen the second, I was the third, Alice, and Jack was the last. When I was 14 I left school and I worked in Vicarage Road, a poor little house girl, scrubbing the doorsteps and sleeping in. What you’d call a general all dog’s body.  Poor little girl sent out to work. Domestic really.

I was paid five and fourpence a week! My sister Annie worked in London, my brother worked at the post office in Thetford and my middle sister went like I did, down Croxton Road doing housework. I was sent there because a job come up and I’d gotta go to work.

I didn’t like the hours, but I just got on with it. I had to be up at six in the morning, scrub the doorstep, take my cup of tea up in bed. Do some of the housework and get the dinner ready for evening;, used to have evening meal. But I was happy doing it I suppose that was what I was brought up. You keep happy doing what you’ve always done.

I used to have friends and go out and I enjoyed my work though that was domestic. I had a nice young life. I went to Christian choir practice, Christian Endeavour and all sorts, Guides.

I was in the Methodist choir. Went out with my boyfriend, as you do. Used to go out with my friends, swimming I used to love. For dancing we went to the Odd Fellow’s Hall it was then, in Earl Street next to the hospital and to the Guildhall, and up Castle Street.

There were live bands. My Dad used to play the piano, another man played the cornet and Mr Bowers did something else. But we used to have what they call sixpenny hops … they were like dancing and we paid sixpence that was all it was to go in.

I’ve had a contented life. Because of Mum and Dad. Your home is the main thing.

Alice (b. 1915) talking to WISEArchive on 4th March 2008 in Thetford.

© 2021 WISEArchive. All Rights Reserved.