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Historical Memories

Flo Clarke Interview. August 2000.

In summary, Flo remembers:
Sketchley’s, demolition of houses and factories, working as a run-about, factory hooter, belts, wheels and noise, mending, WW2, Trinity Road school, the blacksmiths, the Horsefair.

We begin interview by looking at various documents and photos – a price list, a Sketchley booklet.
Flo remembers as a youngster riding on the back of the skips, just like the ones in the photo.
Her mother, who was originally from Nuneaton, started her working life at Sketchley Dye Works at the age of 13.
Flo goes on to talk about all the changes which have taken place in Hinckley over the years and feels that the town has been spoilt with the demolition of a lot of the old buildings.
As a young girl she lived on Bond Street and remembers the big houses with beautiful gardens belonging to the manufactures – the Bott’s lived on Middlefield Lane, Mr and Mrs Samuel Davis lived in the big house at the top of Ashby Road, commenting that Mrs Davis was a ‘lovely little woman’. The Davis family also had a big house on the site of The Limes. She comments on Margery Payne’s big house and the fact that she bequeathed Argents Mead to the people of Hinckley.
Walking along New Buildings she is reminded of The Palladium and the Wesleyan Methodist chapel – all gone and in their place ‘monstrosities’ – the magistrates court on Bond Street where Timothy Jennings factory once stood, Simpkin, Son and Emery where she worked from the age of 14 in 1928 was demolished to make way for flats.
She also commented on the little Quaker Church where she went to girl guides, with its cemetery and the Quaker House at its side which is now a car park.
Her granddad, Sam Bailey, who had been the landlord of the Jolly Bacchus also told her lots of stories about the town - he was a real character.
Flo saw a lot of changes in her working life. She worked as a run-about, for two years earning 9s 2d after paying her insurance. Her wage was handed over to her mother who gave her back 6d.
Hinckley was full of little hosiery factories with men buying a few machines and setting up in business – ‘Old Harry (Harry Flude) started like that in Lilley’s Yard’ (Stockwell Head). He had worked at Simpkins – ‘a lot of them made it, a lot of them didn’t’.
As soon as the ‘hooter blowed, you’d fly down’ to the factory. At two-three minutes passed eight the factory door was locked. If she was late her foremisses would let her in on the Factory Road entrance to the factory.
Her father, Sid, worked as a carpenter and was often called out to the various factories and it was through him chatting with the foremisses that she got her job at the factory.
On first going into Simkin’s she was amazed and ‘frightened to death’ of the great big wheels and belts going all over the ceiling.
After two years as a run-about she was able to learn the job of a mender, being taught by an older girl and in turn she would be given the responsibility of teaching a younger girl. She preferred the quiet of the mending room – no machinery.
During the war she worked at Turner and Grewcocks, putting heels on men’s army boots. By this time she had a young son but had no choice but to continue working but was able to cope with the help of her mother who lived nearby.
She did take some time off, however, when her second son was born but then carried on working and eventually retired at the age of 61.
She and her friend, Dorothy, finished work together, having been good friends for many years. Dorothy presented Flo with her nail file, a token of their friendship – something to remember her by. The files were used to keep their nails soft, these were used along with cream – they daren’t pull a thread in the stockings they were mending.
Flo commented that she didn’t like to see any of her old workmates die, ‘a lot of people don’t live as old as me – 86’.
As a young child she went to the Trinity Lane school and from there to Holliers Walk. She remembers that at the back of Trinity Lane school, was the fairground where every Monday there was a cattle market where they sold sheep, cows, pigs and ducks. She loved going up there with her dad at dinner time.
Next to this she remembers the ‘horseshoe men’ (blacksmiths) and Mr Colver calling them in to have a warm.
Flo also talked about Horse Fair Day held on the 26 August every year.   Return to Top

In summary, Flo remembers:
Monstrosity, future husband - working at quarry, changing jobs in her late 50s, becoming an overlocker. Looking at stockings and photos of buildings and factories.

Flo noted that Simpkins had been pulled down and flats were being built in its place – another monstrosity!
So many people coming into Hinckley for work, her husband, Dick came from Yorkshire to work at the brick yard (Asda site). She was introduced to him by her friend’s husband. He worked at the quarry until it closed and spent the last 7-8 years at Sketchley’s doing the ‘slatting’.
Flo enjoyed her working life and when Simpkins closed she and her friend, Dorothy, went to work for Hinckley Fine Gauge.
They were both in their late 50s and in order to qualify for a full pension they both needed to work until they were 61.
The Fine Gauge discontinued mending and introduced invisible mending which they didn’t want to do, they learnt the overlocking and Flo commented that they had better jobs at the end of their working lives.

We continue recording by looking at various stockings given to me by individuals and companies and Flo commented on the different types including a plain black stocking with a clock up the side (embroidery).
She commented that lisle stockings always looked very nice. She explains ‘plaited’ and describes her job as a mender. A pair of stockings bought in the factory cost 4d.
We also looked at photos of factories and various jobs being undertaken.
She helped to dress people up before they got married, commenting on someone she’d seen tied up near the Weavers Arms just a few weeks back.
She remembers Jennings factory before it was extended, she was ‘borrowed’ by Nicholls and Wileman when the factory was first opened on Wood Street; hanks of yarn being wound onto bobbins; backwinding being a process whereby damaged stockings were pulled apart and yarn re-used.>br>One photo reminded her of the room she worked at in Simpkins, with coat hooks all round the room, the room she worked in at Simpkins had a glass roof – ‘it about baked you’ when it was hot.
Her sister was a welter. There were so many jobs.   Return to Top

In summary, Flo remembers:
Mother, housing, parties, days out and holidays

Flo begins by talking about her mother – she worked at Sketchley’s and continued to work while her children were young.
Flo was born in 1914 and her sister, Edie in 1918 and there were also two younger brothers.
Her father went to serve in the First World War.
She talks about her mother as being a very kind person, ‘she was kindness itself’.

It was through her dad that Flo and her husband were able to move into a two bed roomed house on John Street. When they were first married they lived up a yard on Bond Street, she referred to it as a ‘shack’, just one up and down.
Her father went to an auction and bought the family house on Druid Street and also the house on John Street for £100 – she paid her dad 5-bob a week.
With her two sons growing up, however, she felt she needed more rooms and a house came up for sale opposite her mother – ‘it was in a bloody state’ but her husband Dick thought it would make a good family home and Flo still lives in the same house.
Flo and her husband were married over 60 years and were able to celebrate their Golden Wedding before he died.

Flo remembers work parties for which they saved a small amount each week. They had days out on the firm including a meal and they also had trips out with the Union. She remembers visiting The Whispering Gallery in St Pauls and one particular trip that Dick came along on they visited Westminster Abbey and he came out quite disgusted – ‘can’t see the architecture for all the trumpetry’.
When she was 17-18, she went on holidays with a few friends, they were able to save their holiday money at work, they caught the midnight train to Blackpool but had no corridor and were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to use the toilet.
A little boy, however, got onto the train in Nuneaton and they all used his bucket for a wee! The first thing they did on arriving in Blackpool was to buy the boy a new bucket.
They stayed in board and lodgings and went dancing at the Winter Gardens.

Flo's Interview No1.
Run time 30 minutes.

Flo's Interview No2.
Run time 25½ minutes.

Flo's Interview No3.

Run time 18 minutes.

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