Joe Loftus (1914-1998): Biographical Entry

484 LOFTUS, Joe, ‘Lee Side’, TS, pp.197 + 4pp. glossary (c.60,000 words). Extracts published in The Leigh Journal, December 1983 and January 1984. Brunel University Library.

Born 1914 in Leigh, Lancashire. Father a building labourer, mother a silk weaver. Youngest of 7 children. Educated at Bedford Leigh School and the Sacred Heart of Jesus School (to age 14). Also attended evening classes at Technical School. Married, with a family. Raised in Leigh; travelled the country as a joiner; living in Brighton in 1985.

Barber’s lather boy (1926); newspaper boy; scavenger in a cotton mill (1928-9); tea-boy/labourer on a building site (1929-31); unemployed (1931); haulage hand in a coal mine (1931-4); journeyman joiner (1934-54); joined Government Training Scheme in 1954 as a Technical Instructor in carpentry and joinery; retired at the top of the grade in 1979, after several years’ experience managing large ‘Skill Centres’.

Member of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers; shop steward; secretary of Trades Council; contributed articles to the Woodworker; wrote and illustrated a series of allied woodworking-trade training curricula.

A full account of a Lancashire childhood and adolescence in the inter-war years, describing dress; gambling; family life and details; street games; leisure; courtship; reading and the Children’s Library; pigeon-racing; markets; shops; itinerant traders and entertainers; religious life; schooling; Empire Day; gender divisions; sports; holidays; unemployment; sex. The later sections provide excellent accounts of his early working life in a cotton mill, on a building site, down a coal mine, and as a joiner.

‘Joe Loftus’ in John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (eds) The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography 1790-1945, 3 vols. (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989): 2:484

Loftus, Joe. ‘Lee Side’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:484.

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