Marsden's Home Front
The Second World War involved mass participation in the 'war effort'. Many jobs became designated as 'reserved occupations' requiring males and females to work in mills and factories in order to maintain vital war production. This was the case in the textile trade in the Colne Valley as the mills produced khaki and serge for the armed forces. Many of the residents of Marsden were engaged in the home front war effort as they worked in textiles, engineering and many other occupations.
I worked at Bruce's - Crowther Bruce & Co - in the blending. We did all sorts of colours for cloth and yarn, but mainly khaki for shirting [for the war]. We didn't do the serge battle dress. Bank Bottom did great coats. I started at half past seven in them days, till five. Five and half days a week. Home and had me tea and then went to Tech, three nights a week. You went on a 7 year course then - it was a City & Guilds - textiles. You studied everything - spinning, carding, blending, raw materials and mechanics. The [government] inspectors were crackpot. We'd lay all pieces out in the shed for them to see. They'd turn some down, just for devilment like - and we'd show 'em them again the next time they came!
Mi dad ran the post office during the war. He got up at a quarter past five to do a delivery. There were two deliveries a day. You could post a letter in the morning and it would be there by the afternoon.
Mi sister's husband got killed and I think it were about three weeks after when I went to live with her. I travelled up to Marsden about three weeks to a month [to work at John Edward Crowther's mill] and then they said would I like to work down in the [railway] warehouse. They wouldn't call me up and I could look after my sister and her child, you see. I went in as a porter and I finished up as a loader, loading wagons - Brooks motors, stuff from Hopkinsons, British Dyes, bales of yarn, things that were rationed. It were hard but it were fun.
We all went somewhere. Ivy went into a canteen for the soldiers at Elland. They were based up there. Harry couldn't go anywhere, simply because he'd had rheumatic fever and they wouldn't take him in the army or anything, so he went into the fire-service at Slawit. Maud went into the Town Hall at Slaithwaite. May went into the Land Army at Easingwold in York. Our Bill went into the army. He finished up a Commando, did Bill.
I should have gone up in '41 but my boss got me off so I went up in '42. I was 18 when I went up. I started at Jimmy's. Instead of three years training, we'd everything to shove into 12 months. And then we went to Otley to do our ward work. Then I had the choice of Birmingham or Holmfirth. Where would you have plumped for? I had my 21st nursing.
My father came from London to here and went straight into the mill. He had actually worked at the Woolwich Arsenal, you know it was a big drop in wages, you see. Mother used to go out and clean for other women and then she worked at the school canteen.
I was 19, working as an apprentice in an engineering shop at Lockwood. We were building machine tools a lot of which were exported to Russia by devious routes, some on the Arctic convoys and some through Persia & into Russia at the southern end. We were told that 75% of the machines were sunk on the ships.
I worked at Bank Bottom Mills from the age of 14. One day, just before 12.30, as we made our way back into the mill after our dinner break, an aeroplane circled just above the mill chimney. A cheer went up by some of us who saw it. I believe one of the crew was a Marsdener - and I believe he got into a bit a trouble for doing it.
Our mothers had to work in the mill. My mother was a weaver - she used to make khaki, you know. [Frank's] mother was a mender at Bank Bottom. I mean we were only at school but we'd to do work while my mother worked. We'd come home from school and get cleaning up and get the shopping an' that, ready for when my mum came home. We had our work to do, we all had our jobs. My mother was an Air Raid Warden as well.