Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Life and Labour

When reading Fred’s memoir, one of the most striking things you pick up on is his occupations and work life. In his memoir, Fred writes extensively about the jobs he had throughout his life, and by close examination he seems to have had three different, but hard working jobs. The first job he had was in the Great Northern Railway Office in Peter Street, Manchester, where he stuck invoices, “From 6a.m. to 4p.m.” This is the job Fred does not go into detail of, suggesting that he did not like it. This is hinted as he writes “I forget now how much I was paid, but it could not have been much as I used to cycle there and back fromSeedley about three miles each way to save the fare.” (P. 1)

In Fred’s memoir, work and labour are the sole themes, helping to show the reader what his life was like and helping the reader to see that in the early 20th century, work was central in helping to form an individual identity and establishing ones self as an individual in a work centric society.

The next job Fred writes about is his job in a solicitor’s office, though he does not mention the name of the firm. To get the job, Fred had to get a reference from his local vicar, as the solicitor’s principal said “I like the look of you boy… Go and see your vicar and ask him if he can recommend you for the position.” (P. 1) Upon doing this, Fred managed to get the job. Through the application process for the job, Fred’s close relationship to his parish and community helped him to secure the position, and from the process it highlights that Fred was a likeable person who was able to easily get positions due to his character, and his experience.

In the solicitor’s firm, Fred was an engrosser of deeds. This involved taking a copy of the deed to the Law Stationers and the engrosser, after the deed had been “Pounced,” which was “Rubbing the parchment with a substance like white chalk.” (P. 1) The words “And whereas” and “This Indenture witnesseth” were engrossed by the Law Stationers, showing that within his new role, Fred worked alongside a multitude of different people, showing that his role was very people based. Within the solicitor’s office, Fred went for a position to be a secretary, as he applied to take an exam for the Institute of Chartered Secretaries, which would allow him to advance in work and also to gain a slight pay rise, however, Fred’s enlisting into the army did not allow him to finish his studies.

Despite working a lot during his life, Fred seems to have created a relationship between his work and his social life. In his memoir he writes “On Saturday evenings we would go to the Manchester Hippodrome to see a lavish show often with a water spectacular.” (P. 2) I believe that Fred’s jobs were strictly Monday – Friday jobs, and during the weekend, he spent time with his friend and family and thus, despite his hard work, Fred was able to form a small semblance of a social life.

British Soldier trenchline, battle of the somme

I believe the most significant job he had throughout his life was his role in army. Despite his regiment’s inadequate training, they were sent to France in 1916. There, Fred’s unit goes over the top three times, and all three times their unit suffers heavy casualties. Later on during his time in France, Fred received a promotion to Sergeant, where his duties involved “To get out the operation battle orders to the troops,” (P. 5)   

However, despite Fred being overseas during the war, his manager within the solicitor’s firm continued to pay him, showing that despite not being within the company for years, he was still counted as one of their employees, and that when he returned, he would be welcomed back into his old role.

After the war, Fred did return to the solicitor’s office, where he writes “I could not command a decent salary but eventually I was made a managing clerk and things took an upward turn.” (P. 5) His years of experience allowed him to excel, giving him a significant pay rise and the ability to go up within the solicitor’s. Throughout his life, Fred worked tirelessly. Despite not going from job to job, he worked hard in the positions he obtained, most notably during World War One, where as well as fighting to keep himself alive, he managed to keep his friends and family at home free, and the lives of his comrades, a job that which would echo throughout time and is still significant as a job today, the men fighting respected and revered.


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