Mrs N. Jones (b.~1900): Transcript

Transcript by Ellie Chesters, February 2021.

21 Nicholas Avenue

Rudheath

NW Northwich 

Cheshire

Dear AW Burnett

Thanks a lot for your letter. Please excuse me if I should repeat myself. My father was a rock salt miner all his life. For the Salt-Union in Marston mine, Then I. C. I took over + my father was transferred to the rock salt mine at Winsford as the marston mine got flooded with water suddenly. I did go down the mine with my husband + mother. We went down in a tub, which just held the three of us. Halfway down the shaft were cylinders that just allowed the tub to pass through it + we were warned to keep our shoulders in on the cylinders […]

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With that, we found our way around the mine to where the miners were blasting the rock. One night workmen were repairing the shaft at the cylinders, when water gushed in + could not be stopped. My father was called in to help + to save as much as the men could, before the mine flooded with water, this was tools etc. There were about six ponies in the stables that used to draw trucks of rock to the bottom of the mine for hauling to the surface to fill the waggons The worst job my father said, was sending for a man to shoot the ponies as they had to leave them down, for there was not time to bring them to the surface + there was now only one shaft working instead of two because of the water going down the other. The ponies used to go down in a set of chains with their head up + a bag over it […]

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That was the end of the Salt Union + the start of I,C,I. taking over, + as my father was then 65 year of age he had to Finish. Salt Union would keep their men till 80. My father had worked for 51 years + there were no pensions then only 10/- Ld George pension + as my mother was eight years younger she was not entitled to it. My father said he was thrown away like an old brush, + he lived till he was 73 years of age He used to go away as a delegate for the mine times have changed since then. I never saw a train till I was 13 years of age + we only two miles from a station, + then I went with a school trip to new Brighton, + I remember I was so afraid I did not sit down the whole way there. We wore clogs in those days, these were 2/6 per pair + my father would repair them when needed, that was 2 ½d for a set of tips + nails from the cloggers shop.We managed shoes sometimes for-

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+ the journey was 2 miles, + in those days the Doctor mixed his own stuff + we had to go to the surgery For it. The rent of my home in those days was 4/0 + when my father was ill or on holidays these was no pay So my mother had a struggle for seven in the family + Five growing children. I remember I kept a money box at an aunts who lived next door + all my ½d+ 1d went in it. I remember my mother had no rent one weekend + she borrowed all 13/- that I had saved + I never got it back. My father saw me crying and offered me 10/- to clear out, + iff  if I had at that time somewhere else to go I’m affraid I should have gone. This money I was saving by the time I went to service for uniform etc. I used to go with two buckets to a set of works where I used to pick cinders for this aunt for 1/2per bucket  I was not old enough to carry two full buckets so I used to bring one + then go back for the other + that was how it […]

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Eggs were ab about 14 for 1/ in those days. We had skimmed milk for 1d per pint as we got older at the village school we were sent to a council school in Northwich to learn abto about cookery + laundry, in preparation for a job in private service. Also we were taught ‘Housewifery’ for several weeks. This was at a private House belonging to our teachers. Here we were paired off each day. Two girls were bedroom maids + then to parlour maids then cooks + kitchen maids + scullery maids, the cooks had to do the shopping also + we used to pay 1each day for our dinners. How it covered our meal, I will never know, but it was a treat. I think this lasted about seven weeks we would be about 12 years of age by then. This was in preparation to service, there seemed nothing else + we never heard of a high school Education […]

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my mother lived to almost 90 years of age + she had a good memory. She did not wear glasses + no false teeth. She was brought up with her grandmother + she was the eldest of 13. She was a teacher at Wincham schools In those days if one was a good scholar, there was no exams to pass, so she taught till she married my father at 21 years of age + then the family of five followed quickly This was a full time job as they came between two or three years between. Four girls are still living ages 80, 77, 72 + 68. My brother passed away at 64 years of age He had been married to three wives + lived for (wine, woman, + song) I say if he had dropped one of them, he might still have survived. He became a rock miner with my father + then afterwards at the Winsford mine till he died. Our games at school were, skipping, marbles, tops + whips at play time + evening. But when we were at home they were the younger […]

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In school we had slates + these were marked in squares + slate pencils, for writing sums + we always carried a slate rag for cleaning these when the teacher came round with a bottle of water with a sprinkler top + put a pot on each slate so that we could clean them. We used to sew quite early + knit; Handkerchiefs were supplied for hemming round + these we could buy for 1 penny each, afterwards I am enclosing a school photograph I am standing on the teacher’s left + I have a white collar on my dress. This is on the second row from the bottom I would be then fou six years of age + I’m afraid nearly all have passed away. I lost touch with them when I went to service at […]

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He was in service as a chauffeur for a Mr Cohen in Bowdon. Mr Cohen was in the cotton trade + through a slump in trade he had to reduce his staff of thirteen + go in a smaller house + my husband who was the second chauffeur had to leave. This was a great shock as we were asked to go + live at Bowdon to be near his job + we were being offered a house close by Mr Cohen’s as my husband was cycling fourteen miles to + from his work. So we had to stay put in Marston + to take a room + that was where my daughter was born. My husband has not paid any unemployment money so he had nothing to draw when out of work. Domestic servants didn’t pay any in those days 

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so this was when he got some stamps on his card + was entitled to unemployment pay should he come out of work. This was a bad spell for us, on + off work for some six years, till he started at ‘Broadhurst Biscuit factory’ + my daughter was 14 years of age + she started there too. My husband was a van driver at £2 – 6 – 3 per week my daughter was a packer at 4 shilling per week Fancy keeping + clothing a daughter for 4/- per week Then the war came + my daughter went into war work at Vickers in Boughton, near Chester. The pay was much better here + the work was better At Broadhurst Factory she has to pack hot biscuits till her fingers were bleeding + then they were bandaged and she was sent […]

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My husband then left ‘Broadhurst’ and too a long distance job with a lorry, but as he was in the first world war + was invalidated out after nearly four years, I think it was far too heavy for him + he had a slight stoke stroke, followed by more for over eleven years, until the end. It was now 25 years since he passed away + my daughter married 28 years ago + lives not far away + has a daughter of 20 years, So I have been on my own for 25 years I hope you will excuse my spelling also my writing, for I could do with going back to school to a few years I am enclosing a photo as I am, it was taken as a passport photo, but I never used it […] 

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21 Nicholas Avenue

Rudheath

NW Northwich 

Ches.

I was born in 1900, the 2nd of 5 children. My father was a salt rock miner at Marston near Northwich. His week’s pay was 19 old sov per week for 5 ½ days, till Sat dinnertime. He used to go to a pub nearby (The New Inn”) 2d for a glass of mild beer, + would stay all night playing dominos with the miners + he was no good at the game, he would be ready for bed when he came. He said 2d was the entrance fee, they must have played for beer in those days. I went to Marston School when I was two years of age. My lunch at 10 am was ½ round of bread + marg wrapped up in newspaper + my name written on it. This was handed in at 9 am so that I would not be tempted to eat it before time. As I was weakly my mother used to […]

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It was maypole marg, + as I got older I would run in the dinner hour to Northwich ‘Maypole’ for ½ lb marg + we were given ½ lb extra (overweight) I think it was 6 d per half lb (butter was unknown in our house) Our Sunday dinner was potato pie, made from 1 ½ lb shin beef + this allowed a pie or two for my father at the mine. If he had an egg, it was put in his can of tea + taken to the mine + it was cooked when he got it being fished from his hot tea with a spoon The butcher was very kind + would wrap me a pound of sausages when I bought the shin beef on Sat morn. They were a Godsend to our house, + I went there for years. We were a family of 7 then. There were no buses then + we could […] 

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When I was 14 years of age, I went + lived in at a farm to take care of two children. Wages 2/6d per week or 6 £ per year. No days off at all. We went for our food in those days as our parents could not affort to keep us at home, as we got older. In the harvest, I used to help to milk + this was by hand not machine, we had over 30 cows + I had to take one of the children who was on the bottle with me in the shippon. I used to fill her bottle straight from the cow. I was then 14 years of age. From there I went to Hale Cheshire as a domestic servant at 3/6 per week. ½ day off per fortnight + if I missed my train at Hale I would walk the 14 miles to Northwich […]

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in the kitchen before I could wash, I did all the work in the house. Those were the days of slavery. I was then 15 years of age + I stayed three years in that job + then I walked out and took another job close by. This went on till I married a man who was in private service in 1921. I could still write a few books. I hope these few lines will be of help to you 

Yours sincerely

Mrs N Jones

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 Jones, N. ‘Two Autobiographical Letters’. The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography, 1790-1945 (3 volumes). John Burnett, David Vincent, David Mayall (eds.). Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989. 2:0444.

Find the Biographical Entry of Mrs N. Jones Here.

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