Mrs Maud M. Clarke
Flat 94 Park Lane West
[end of pg1]
I was born in 1887, the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria, who had reigned as a beloved Queen for fifty years.
Babies, born in this year, were proudly known as Jubilee babies, and indeed, many girl-babies were christened “Jubilee”.
A silver crown, (a five shilling piece) was minted to mark the occasion.
I recently gave my 1887 coin to my elder grandson, also an 1887 double florin. 4/.
There was a lot of poverty amongst ordinary people, but as my father was a plumber, and we also kept a shop, we were comfortably off.
Waste was a sin in our home.
I often watched my father with his small pot of mixed lead and tin, which he heated on the kitchen-fire, and then proceeded to “wipe a joint”, with his skilful bare hands, only protected by a piece of thick material called moleskin[.]
Although families were large, (my mother bore seven children three boys and four girls) every baby was nurtured naturally by its mother for the first nine months. [end of pg2]
[end of pg3]
I can still visualise my mother feeding the baby She often remarked
“Whilst he is feeding, I am resting, and we are getting to know each other” – my dear mother!
At the age of nine months each baby was spoon-fed with “sop”.
ntensil was kept very clean. A piece of bread (home-baked) was scalded in a basin with boiling water, and beaten with milk and sugar. How the baby loved it!
There was no mention of Vitamin A, B or C.
As the baby’s teeth developed,, he fed with the family on ordinary food[.]
So far, my mother’s seven children fared – as – One baby died at the age of 8 ½ months, another son 67 from cancer, another son – heart failure at 86, one daughter heart failure at 86.
I am healthy at 91, and I have two sisters who are well and active at 86 & 79 years[.]
My mother died at the age of 78, and two of her sisters lived to be centenarians.
We had two large tall screens with seats, and during the day, baby rested in the corner near the fire, and away from draughts, under the watchful eye of the rest of the family[.]
Many families could not afford to buy [end of pg4] furniture, and men made a rough sofa of wood, which was covered with material.
This was called a squab.
Until about the age of four, little boys & girls were dressed alike, except that the boys were distinguished by wearing a plaid dress. No pants or trousers were worn at this age, evidently, as a help towards cleanliness.
Children were sent to bed soon after teatime,, all except baby who lay in a rocker wooden cradle by the fire, as mother sat with her endless sewing, mending and darning.
She soothed the often restless baby, by gently rocking the cradle with her foot, thus releasing her hands for this very necessary task. At this time we knew not of gramophones, radio, or television, as mother sang a lullaby in the lamp light,, there being no gas-light (except in a few homes) nor electricity.
The children slept in a large bedroom with two large brass bedsteads, and lay on feather beds, boys in one bed and girls in another.
Oh! the fun of it! when cousins stayed the night, and we slept in “apple-pie beds” lying top-bottom & sides.
To us, our parent’s bedroom was a palace [end of pg5, Image 2, end of pg6] with a huge mahogany bed, beautifully carved, with a canopy at the head, and side curtains of white material. Valances draped each side.
Around the bed was a path of druggeting arranged so as [as added later] to protect this wonderful carpet.
How we little ones delighted in jumping up and down on this bed, beneath the feathers of which was a box spring mattress.
Our bedroom floor was scrubbed, and we had only mats. There was no linoleum at that time neither was the staircase carpeted – just scrubbed.
In the poorer homes, with large families, and only one bedroom, parents and children slept together in one bed, and at times the baby was overlain and killed by the weight of the overtur[n]ed parents.
As the baby began to walk easily by himself, he was put into “The Walker” which was usually constructed by his father.
This was made of very stout wooden legs, on top of which was a wooden ring.
The baby was carefully placed through this wooden ring, which he held with his hands, (his feet reaching the floor) and he enjoyed propelling himself across the floor. There was also a small fixed gate placed on each door [door added later] exit for baby’s safety. [end of pg7] Baby is now two, and out of hand, so it is time for the arrival of yet another baby and time for me to begin another chapter of my life.
The Infant School.
Schools were very different from what they are today.
The only schools for ordinary children were “Dame” schools, and Church schools, built by varying denominations, to enable people to read the Scriptures themselves without the aid of priests.
Parliament passed a law in 1879? called The Education Act, which enforced every child over the age of five to be educated in reading, writing and arithmetic.
The Liberal government, headed by Mr. Ewart Gladstone carried through that act, in spite of great opposition, from the opposite party [from…party added later], who claimed that free education would bankrupt the country.
The new free schools called Board schools, as they were managed by a Board of local important men, who set up the schools, raised rates to help meet the cost, and appointed teachers, whilst attending to all other duties concerning education.
At the age of four, I went with my six-year old brother to a “Dame school”, which was a large [end of pg8, Image 3, end of pg9] house owned by a clever lady, One large room was used as a schoolroom, for a few small boys and girls who each paid sixpence a week for their tuition.
With such low wages as were paid, this was a great strain on the family-income.
A director of education was appointed by the board to attend to the outside duties connected with the running of the schools.
Each child used a slate and slate pencil (neither paper nor pen)
we were taught the alphabets and numbers up to a hundred, by the aid of a frame of coloured beads.
This was a great advantage when we entered the Board school at the age of five years.
The Infant school, the girls’ school and the boys’ school were all built in one block, but the boys’ school and playground was separated from the girls’ and infants’ school by a very high wall. There was no communication whatever between the boys- and girls’ and infant school.
The schools, being newly built, very clean and airy. They were also well lighted by having a high ceiling and well ventilated windows. [end of pg10]
The large playgrounds were completely paved and very large. Toilets was cited at the far end for obvious reasons, as they were never flushed with water.
All “night” soil, from whatever area, was collected in large deep carts, which rumbled through the streets at night, whilst doors and windows were tightly shut,[.]
The infants’ school had one large main room, with the head-mistresse’s desk placed in the centre, with the clock on the wall above.
Three classes were taught in this large room which had no dividing partitions[.]
Each classroom was heated by a single coal-fed stove, fitted into the corner of the room, and light, during the winter darkness was provided by gas jets[.]
There was no electric light at this time.
The two cloakrooms were very small, and coats were hung one upon another.
There were only two wash-basins, and one roller towel, and they were seldom used.
A baby’s room is provided for the youngest children, and an extra stove, or even fire-place was installed here for extra warmth.
There was also a cot, covered with a wool blanket for the use of any sick child. [end of pg11]
The Head mistress was always addressed as “Governess” by both staff & children, whilst the teachers were known as “Teacher Mary, – Annie &c[.]
Married women (except widows) were never employed as teachers.
In spite of much poverty, most children warmly clad in thick wool dresses, covered by highly starched, white cotton pinafores, heavy shoes and home-knitted black wool stockings.
Most shoes have a second toe-cap of steel as a further protection. All clothing for boys & girls reached below the knee.
Sensible parents took the precaution of cutting short the children’s hair, to prevent them coming home with undesirable intruders (Hair lise)[.]
The three R.s. were the main subjects taught, and slates and pencils were used throughout the entire school for numbers and writing.
The reading books, (indeed all necessaries) were very worn from constant use, as tax-payer’s money had to be very carefully spent, especially as “The School Board” were all taxpayers.
Girls learnt to use a needle, cotton and thimble whilst the boys did a little drawing[.]
The nursery rhym[e]s were learned, and we sang very delightful short songs, as we danced around [end of pg12] the maypole, which was fixed to the middle of the floor of the main room.
Each boy and girl, one behind the other, held a different-coloured ribbon, in order to plait and unplait the maypole, whilst a teacher played a pretty tune on “The harmonium” – a sort of combined organ and piano.
School hours were from 9 am to 12 am with a break for dinner (never called lunch) and again from 2 pm to 4:30 pm.
We had no religious teaching, but we sang childrens hymns, and with closed eyes and folded hands we said our prayers.
There were no school dinners, and every child had to be off the premises during dinner-time.
All teachers went home to dinner[.]
Children who came late after dinner, were caned on the hand by the governess.
The attendance officer (usually carrying a stick) continually) paraded the streets, looking for children not at school, and warning parents that children must attend school regularly and punctually, or they would be summoned and even imprisoned.
Reaching home, the first cry of a child was “where is mamma” for mother was an important and dearly loved parent. [end of pg13]
Children made their own games, entirely without supervision of the teachers[.]
We, small children liked to play mostly in groups “In & out the windows” was very popular.
A ring of boys & girls held extended arms, whilst a boy chased a girl, threading their way in and out, all singing
“In and out the windows, in and out the windows as we have done before,
Reaching the centre of the ring the boy & girl stood, whilst we all sang.
Come and face your lover, come and face your lover as you have done before”
& so the game went on.
Ring a ring of roses was also often played with song as “Ring a ring of roses, a pocket full of posies, All fall down and each child slid to the pavement saying “ash a [hoo; almost illegible]
“Blind man’s buff” was another great favourite. As now, some children prefer to play alone with the ball
either with a ball or a skipping rope.
The streets were very quiet, and safe, as there were no cars, buses trams nor bicycles, only horse-drawn vehicles, 6 [feet; almost illegible], sise huge horses, side by side in twos, would be drawing a wagon loaded with a mighty tree-trunk to be sawn up at the local saw-mill. [end of pg14, Image 4, end of pg15]
The Girls school
Today is a big event – at seven years of age we (the girls) are moving into the girls’ school. It has much the same lay-out as the infant school, but with a few (3) more rooms, as class rooms. These are required as children must stay at school for another six years hence the six classes.
Each classroom had a (step-up) gallery with rows of desks on each, which were filled with about six children[.]
There were about forty girls in each class and teacher (now to be addressed as Miss H) taught every subject. Now we used pen and ink, an ink well being inserted in a hollow of the desk.
There was very little or no connection with parents, The girls were in entire charge of teachers and discipline was very strict. Girls had to be obedient, “Familiarity breeds contempt” it is said. There was no familiarity between teacher and pupil, and strangely there was very little punishment.
Governess was respected, feared and loved.
Teachers never took children on outings and there were no open-days for parents. Apart from play-time school-time was worktime.
The multiplication tables were thoroughly taught, as also addition, subtraction, multiplication & division of numbers & money [end of pg16] to the best advantage.
As the girls grew older they tended to develop individual friendships, and they played in smaller groups.
Hop scotch was a favourite game, hence the provision of the steel band of the toe-capped shoe.
Rounders (similar to baseball) was another game [game added later], and of course skipping, when many girls joined the game using a long, very strong canal-barge rope.
Perhaps I was a “loner”, for I liked throwing a ball as high as possible up to a gable-end and catching it, but best of all I liked Five stones or Jacks This was a game played in the desert with five small rounded stones, as these children had no toys. As we went home, the boys played with marbles [illegible word] Jack in the hole, taking home marbles as their winnings[.]
We trundled along large wooden hoops using a stick, but boys whipped large iron hoops with an iron handle attached to the hoop.
There were no swimming baths, but most boys swam in “The narrows” of our vast network of canals, also in a pool called “the swag”[.]
Girls were not allowed near. (absolute taboo)[.]
We had no park until 1897, laid out in celebration of Queen Victoria’s diamond [diamond added later] jubilee, but we had plenty of meadows, where children played in safety all day, [end of pg17, Image 5]
Going home from school, we often passed the horse pound to offer the imprisoned horse a lump of sugar, as he waited to be retrieved by his owner. He had been prisoner for straying up and down the streets[.] [end of pg18]
There were no works canteens, and the elder boys and girls hurried home to take father’s hot dinner to him at “The Works” (never referred to as factories)[.]
It was put hot into a warmed basin, meat placed on top of hot vegetables, and a saucer on top holding a slice of bread.
This meal was wrapped in thick flannel, placed in a basket, containing a bottle of home-made beer.
Mothers, even with small dwellings did not go out to work. Father had to be well fed, as he alone brought home the only means of subsistence[.]
There was little or no compensation for injury or death at work, and when father was ill & unable to work all the family suffered privation[.]
The unions at this time, were very scarce and almost powerless, and very vilified by the employers. Many firms refused to employ a “union” man.
We had no health service, & no nurse, but some people paid the local doctor threepence a week all the year round for his medical attention.
“The poor helped the poor” in those circumstances There were no old-age pensions, & grandparents now unable to work [now…work added later] usually shared a home with the family – grandma minding the babies and grandad breaking coal & chopping wood amongst other necessary chores. [end of pg19]
Smaller canals branched off the service many works but many are now derelict or out of use. The “Black Country” Society [Society added later] members are now busy cleaning out these many canal basins[.] [Image 6, end of pg20]
When a couple became old and decrepite?, they were often obliged to end their days in “The Workhouse”, the old man and the old woman living, and eventually dying apart, from each other.
Often, they were buried either by money collected from neighbours, or by their [their added later] children in common graves above others of similar circumstances.
I often came home from school along the canal towing path. We had a very high canal embankment, which joined up with “The Main Canal”. This main canal runs through the centre of my home-town, connecting London with The Manchester ShipCanal.
The engines at Ocker Hill, used to pump water from low level to high level (The embankment) and [and added later] were once visited and admired by the late Henry Ford.
Tipton has so many canals, servicing so many works, that she is often called “The Venice of the Midlands
In fact, I live quite near Victoria Park, and Dudley Port, which boasts two viaducts carrying the main railway line, and two aqueducts supporting the main canal. The canal & railway line are very close at this point side by side.
Walking along the towing-path, we met the barges mostly filled with coal and iron goods. The gaily painted [gaily painted added later] barge was pulled along by a heavy horse attached to the barge by a very thick rope. like our skipping rope [end of pg21] [Image 7, end of pg22]
[Following 4 paragraphs written around Image 8]
It is May Day, and the horses are heribonned with plaited tails, pretty earcaps and gleaming brasses.
The stage-coach was used before my time, but I lived on a road for many years which used to be known as Turnpike Road and I saw many mile stones from Dudley to Birmingham[.] Alas, they have gone, but there are still several coaching houses left, and I remember seeing the posts to which the horses used to be tied – also a mounting block for horsemen.
The mounting block used by John Wesley is still at Wednesbury where he was stoned by Anti-Wesley Church people[.]
The coach houses were at the back in a large yard. There is a fine Coach-horse & stables at Birdgnorth. [illegible] [Image 8, end of pg23]
Recently, my daughter, a head mistress took her children to Aston Hall, and saw such a mangle there. The curator was impressed to learn, that Phyllis’s mother as a child had seen a similar one in operation.
[Image 9, Image 10, end of pg24]
One day I met Norah carrying a large basket of folded cleanly, fairly dr
yied linen Taking hold of one handle (she held the other) we went to Mrs Calloway’s cottage for the clothes to be mangled. In the stone-flagged-kitchen stood a very large wooden box covered with huge heavy stones. I do not understand the mechanism of it, but the stones pressed on the washing – thus mangling them.
My mother, and even I until about 1930, had an upright heavy iron mangle on castors, with a heavy large iron wheel, which we turned by hand in order to revolve the rollers, beneath which, the first wet clothing to be squeezed of water and when dried to be mangled for pressing, such as towels which now did not need ironing.
On the way home we met Mrs. Allen carrying a bag of coal on her head (unsupported) whilst Mrs Jones who walked with her, carried a large white linen bag of flour. Mother told me that they were stately women.
Frequently, the scissor-grinder called to sharpen scissors and knives on his grinding machine, as well as the glass-man, who [who added later] would cut glass which he carried on a wooden frame across his back. He then securely fixed the new pane into the window frame with putty[.]
We were very thrilled, although a little scared, when a man came into the street with dancing muzzled bear but we liked very much The Punch & Judy Show. [end of pg25, Image 11, end of pg26]
There were hundreds of so-called “doggy pits” in our district. Coal was mined and sold for 6d a cut, until water was reached. They were then abandoned, as our district has a large underground lake, and the mines drainage failed to cope with the water.
These small collieries were sometimes not adequately bricked over, and children, climbing on the loose cove of bricks sometimes fell in and were drowned.
Only recently, a huge subsidence occurred on a busy motor-way,, and it took many tons of earth to fill up the crater.
Reaching home from school one afternoon I found that auntie had come to stay with us for a month, “but where is mother” I ask “She is not well” auntie replied. Auntie was very busy arranging hot water upstairs in stone [illegible word] in order to warm mother’s bed. She takes the water from the kitchener which always stands on the left hob of the fireplace. It is a very heavy iron pot with a lid, and a brass top which is turned on to release the hot water.
After tea, Mrs Knowles comes, and goes upstairs carrying a large black bag. She must be bringing us a new baby and that black bag[.]
Auntie quickly ushers us to bed – all five of us, the eldest being eight. I am 6 years old[.]
During the night we are awakened by [end of pg27, Image 12, end of pg28, Image 12, end of pg29] mother screaming. We jump up, but auntie is barring the door. Father comes into the bedroom – tells us to be good and says we have a new baby brother.
I lay awake, wondering why mother should scream, when Mrs Knowles had been kind enough to bring us a new baby. (20 years later I knew the answer).
During my mother’s seven confinements she was never attended by any doctor, and each child was born in her own home.
Eight months later, I was again awakened by mother’s cry of anguish “My child – my child” as she witnessed the death of this loved baby.
(Again I suffered 28 years after when my six year old daughter died.)
A few days later, my brother and I went with our parents in a horse-drawn carriage, following a hearse in which the dearly-loved baby lay.
Why”? I asked, had baby been put into a hole in the ground if, (as mother told me) he had gone to Heaven. As I grew older, I was often in demand as a bearer to some dead playmate, but 6 little girls carried the coffin through the streets to the churchyard.
The parents of these children had not the money to pay for a hearse, and I believe that there was no money to be paid for burial in a churchyard. [end of pg30]
December 31st 1899 A letter from Queen Victoria was read in St John’s Church ordering collections to be made for help to the families of soldiers fighting in The Boer War.
Patriot song of Boer war
Dukes son, cooks son, son of a hundred kings.,
50,000 horse and
feet men? going to Table Bay.
Each of them answering his country’s call
Who’s to look after the kids
Pass the hat for credit’s sake
And pay, pay, pay.
Will you kindly drop a penny in the little tambourine
For the gentleman in khaki going south?
He’s an absent-minded fellow, but he’s heard his country’s call [end of pg31]
It is 1897, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and there are great celebrations for the occasion We have a huge bonfire. Victoria Park is planned & built and streets are moved in honour of the beloved queen,
But now comes the news of The Boer War”, the propaganda machine of hate is set in motion, and we are dutifully learning and singing patriotic songs at school. The red-coat and pillbox hat of the soldier are replaced by an outfit khaki. (There is much sand [corrected from said] in The Transvaal).
Now “Tommy” is a fine fellow, and we are asked very forcibly to “pay, pay, pay, by Rudyard Kipling, for “The kids” Tommy has left behind him.
It is now 1900, and I am nearing the age of thirteen, and the end of my school days, I have passed through all the seven classes, and I am the only girl sitting alone in (ex 7)[.]
Governess provides me with a special book in which I write essay after essay on every subject. Occasionally, I help teacher of the youngest children, for in this class, whatever the age, the near-mental children stay all their school days. There is little or no provision provided otherwise.
I cannot leave school until I am thirteen, yet my mother desires it, so that I may help her as she has just acquired her last baby. [end of pg32, Image 13, end of pg33]
Governess asks for an interview with mother and father, and it is decided with my consent, that Governess will propose me to The School Board as a future teacher.
Our New Home
Father has decided that his wages as a plumber, are not adequate to support his adored wife and children in comfort, so he buys a home-brewed ale-house – a village pub.
Now we have many rooms, a large sitting-room a kitchen, a scullery, a wash-house, and a passage with a window for serving outdoor beer.
Beside the bar is a smoke room, in which a racks holds many long pipes) I think that they were called “churchwardens”)
Father tells me that only rich men in top-hats will be in a pipe smoking club, and that they alone will sit (not in the bar) but in The Smoke room.
The bar has uncovered wooden tables, and long benches – only father has a large chair in the corner, so that he can keep an eye on his customers. The floor is sprinkled with clean sawdust each morning, and spittoons are placed in various positions on the floor in which people spit. Horrible! [end of pg34, Image 14, end of pg35]
Upstairs, we have a large bedroom for mother & father, a bedroom for the boys, and another for us four girls.
There is also a very large Club room, where the officers of societies hold meetings, and the customers occasionally have a dinner and a get-together.
We also have a hop room, where long round pockets of hops are kept for brewing. also the malt.
Outside, we have a large loft with the brewing vat (raised above some steps)
There is a large yard (mostly paved) with a pigsty, and to mother’s delight, a hen house with a long chicken-run. Father built a swing in the yard.
Now, auntie lives with us permanently, and Mary comes in daily to help
I am fascinated with the pattens she wears when swilling the cobbled yard.
They are iron shoes, tied on with a leather thong, and they have stilts underneath, through which, the water flows, and so keep her own feet dry.
We also have two largest cellars in which the hop is fermented and stored.
Tommy the brewer, arrives at our house very early one morning for the brewing.
Father, being a plumber, has connected the extremely large brewing boiler to the water system. [end of pg36, Image 15, end of pg37]
As the day wears on, a pungent smell pervades the
air air, of, not only our dwelling, but of the adjasent streets.
I climb the steps, and father lifts me up, to see the hops and barley boiling rapidly, as he stirs the heaving mass with a large wooden shovel.
He explains to me, that this mash will produce fine ale to be sold at 3 pence a pint.
A wide pipe has been constructed under the yard and kitchen, and this pipe will carry ale into a large zinc-lined wooden vat in the cellar.
Following this operation, the same hops and barley will be reboiled (the second mash) as “Twopenny” and sold at 2 pence a pint.
This second mash is to be [to be added later] channelled into a vat in the second cellar
The days brewing is over, the beer is safely in the separate vats, and Tommy and Father leave everything as clean as a new pin.
My brother and I take a large jug each to another ale-house which had a previous brewing. for barm[.] This is the froth from beer which has already fermented – Yeast
Sometime elapses, and I go with father into the cellar to rack off. He strains off the barm with a clean wooden ladle, and fills the waiting clean wooden barrels with the beer. [end of pg38]
We children were kept solely to our private rooms in the house, and it was father who usually served his customers.
Inns opened at 6 o’clock in the morning, and stayed open without a break, until eleven o’clock at night.
This was the time of “The Industrial Revolution” and The Midlands had a great influx of [Lush?] cheap labour. The men had no permanent homes, and usually lodged with the local people – hence their need of drink. The railways, canals, bridges, roads aqueducts &c were built with barrow, earl-pick and shovel – There were few mechanical aids.
I never saw a woman sitting with men in the bar [in…bar added later], indeed, she only was served from the window in the passage and never drank on the premises.
The police frequently came into the inn unexpectadey [correction attempted] to see that the licensee was fulfilling his obligations, declared before the magistrates – no gambling or other evil prastises[.] [end of pg39]
The barrels of beer stand for some time to mature, and now comes (to me) the crucial moment of tapping.
Father skilfully removes a plug in the barrel and insert a pipe, which carries the beer upstairs and to “The Pulls” on the counter [country crossed over and corrected] from which the beer is sold.
Note It is strange, but not one of my father’s children have drunk alcohol or smoked tobacco,
During the brewing, and excise man, came several times entering particulars in a book, after testing the brass guage the strength &c.
This guage in a wooden velvet-lined box must not be interfered with, as it always lay in one place on a side table.
When I was sixteen, we moved from this pub, and father went into another form of business, much more satisfactory to my mother.
The Home and its food.
Now, Auntie prepares us for school, and mother stays resting until we have departed, for mother believes that auntie should be in full control at this time, with no divided loyalties. She serves each child with porridge, demerara sugar, and milk, and we trudge on our way, meeting many gypsies who have come to The wake[.] [end of pg40]
Wherever there is a church, there is a fair (wake) with side shows, Punch and Judy – a roundabout and many other brightly-lit, colourful attractions.
Todays baking day. The large earthenware bowl called a “jowl” is almost filled with flour, and a handful of rough salt, (no packet salt yet) and all mixed together by hand. A quantity of yeast is also mixed in, and the jowl covered with a clean cloth [covered…cloth added later] is placed in front of the fire for the mixture to rise.
Meanwhile, the large baking-oven is flashed with wood. Auntie removes the hot wood from the oven, and the loaves in tins, are baked, as the aroma of baking bread fills the house.
Today the large table is laid on our return from school – mother has boiled a brisket of beef, with carrots, parsnips, onions, turnips and potatoes.
But first, we have broth-soup, poured over cubes of bread and sprinkled with parsley.
Tomorrow, we shall have pork-pea soup, but with this, we have chopped mint leaves, and afterwards potatoes, ptasepudding and chopped carrots.
We always have a fish-dinner on Fridays usually boiled-cod with potatoes, pea’s and parsley sauce, and this is often followed by apple-tart and custard.
Mother does not believe in fried food for children. [end of pg41]
It is Tuesday. Pancake Day, and we have a half-holiday from school. We rush home, and on the hob is a “mountain” of pancakes. Mother looks very hot and red in the face, as she cooks the last one, in the frying-pan over a bright red fire. The frying-pan has a [rag?] at the top which is fastened to a gale-hook which swings from a crane fastened to the great.
Mother and Auntie have sausage, eggs and tomato cooked in the Dutch-oven before the fire. The strides are hooked to the fire bars in the Dutch oven is placed on them.
It is (the D [D added later] oven) often called the toaster Father prefers mutton-chop grilled on the gridiron (a latticed wire pan) over a smokeless red fire, but mother says “Yes it is sweet, but what a waste of good mutton-fat, which I could use for [end of pg42] scaling the corks of jars, holding cooked plums and damsons which are required in winter.”
For pudding today, mother makes frementy with ripe wheat grains [grains added later] which she boils in a large pot, adding to it a couple of eggs from our hens.
She says, that with milk and sugar, (served) it is more nourishing than rice.
It is an easy dinner, for “Jack, Jack” the large bacon-pig has been killed, whilst we were at school.
It is hanging upside-down in the out-house.
A couple of days later, Grandma, who is a wonderful cook, comes to stay with us all day.
The pig has been cut into joints by Mr Grainger the butcher, and one cellar, has been thoroughly cleaned to receive the flitches (sides of bacon).
They are placed on the brick shelves around the cellar. The shelves have been covered thickly with salt and salt-petre (the cellar is dry and well-ventilated)
The two hands and two chawls, are very thoroughly smoked, and placed in clean pillowcases. These are hung from large hooks in the ceiling of the kitchen to dry.
After a time, the flitches of bacon are brought up from the cellar, covered with sheets of linen, and placed on the walls of the staircase – to dry. [end of pg43]
Father admires his “pictures”
A porker (a young pig) was killed at the same time as “Jack Jack” but he is cut up to be [be added later] eaten. For Sunday dinner.
A leg of pork will hang from “The Jack”. This is a brass instrument turned with a key, and the meat revolves, round and round cooking each part carefully & perfectly. A tin below, placed on the strides catches the fat and gravy. Father has made a hastener. This is like a small clothes-horse but it is lined with zinc to reflect the heat from the fire onto the meat, & so save coal. Grandma is very busy making a large meat pie, covered with pie pastry – from the odd pieces of meat She also makes lard with the inside fat, leaf. This lard is now sprinkled with rosemary, and left to set. Meanwhile, Mary is in the scullery cleaning out the intestines which are boiled in salt water
The grown-ups are very fond of chithings [bottom of page cut off, photocopying error?] [end of pg44]
That evening Auntie took four of us to “The Opera Theatre” We travelled on the steam [steam added later] trams, and at “The Stop” at the end of its run, we watched the driver and conductor, clean out the dead ashes, and replace them with fresh coal. The two boys climbed the staircase, and sat without cover, on the top seats of the tram.
Auntie grumbled, because they were covered with smuts from the chimney.
The day before wash-day, mother sorts out the dirty linen, – such a heap- and with my help (I have learned to use the sewing machine) repairs any damage, and matu[illegible] several patches.
Early in the morning the huge copper boiler is filled with water, and a coal fire is built in the furnace underneath. When the water is hot enough it is taken by bucket, and put into the mading tub Soap-powder (no detergent then) is added. The dirty linen is either punched with a made or swivelled with a dolly. [bottom of page cut off, photocopying error, end of pg45]
After mading, the clothes are either wrung by hand, or passed through the large iron mangle with huge wooden rollers to release surplus water.
The cleaner clothes are thrown int
ro a large clothes-basket, but the very soded ones are placed in very hot water to which sola has been added – The rubbing tub. Soap is liberally rubbed into the persistent stains, which are rubbed by hand, and also rubbed on the Rubbing–board which is a wooden board coovered covered with deeply rubbed sin ge.
Auntie is scarcely visible in the steam-filled kitchen, as she places the rubbed linen into the boiler of boiling water with soda added.
The clothes are taken from the boiler, and swilled in [end of pg46] clean water, then again in blued water, because as mother says “Whites are only white when blued”[.]
The clothes are once more wrung, to free excess water and then hung to dry in the fresh air, on lines tethered to posts in the big yard – if fine Otherwise they are hung in the scullery and kitchen from overhead lines.
And what ironing? The clothes are dampened and again passed through the mangle to spread the moisture Flat articles such as towels are not ironed. Most things are starched and dampened before ironing. A dear fire is made, and Auntie brings out three heavy flat irons, two of which are permanently heating in the iron sling hanging on the bars of the grate. There must be no smokey fire, and ironing goes on until all clothes are finished.
The home and its accoutrements
We It is 1897 1903 and we have moved into a large house[.] It is modern, with a bay window, a long hall with a staircase, a big verandah, many rooms and a garden but not yet, either electricity or deep drainage. In the front room (parlour) there is a beautiful chandelier with many lights (still jets). We still have to cook with coal-fires. There were no dust- fbins at this time – an open ash-pit held all refuse which was taken [end of pg47] away periodically in the dust cart. It The ash pit was called The miskin[.] There was no linoleum to cover wooden floors, and kitchens were paved with square quarries. People made warm rugs (cut in strips) to cover the cold quarries Even large houses had no bath-room. Water was heated in the copper and the family, every Friday, bathed in front of the fire. Fresh fruit was very cheap, and there were very few tins of food. Many poor people lived in square courts where only one water tap and one toilet was used. These people frequently covered the legs of the table with men’s woollen stockings to protect them from damage.
I well remember hearing of The first pensions (The beginning of the Welfare State.) given to men over 70 years of age who had no more than 7/6 a week coming in. There were no tiled grates – they were black leaded. Occasionally, a travelling theatre came to the town, The pawnshops did a thriving business in the poor quarters. Roads were made of “Rowley Rag” a very hard stone, covered with cinders and rolled smoothly with a traction engine. The sight of a policeman frightened most people – people were taken to prison mostly for debt. As the bailiffs appeared in the street, people ran, warning people, calling out “The Bums The Bums.” The doors were soon locked. There was very little employment for women. Most were employed as servants in the large houses They worked from six in the morning until [end of pg48] midnight for a few shillings a week. They were compelled to wear coloured cotton dresses and cap early in the day, and change into black dress and white apron and cap afternoons. They slept in the attics, and were usually allowed one half day’s holiday a week, and a whole days holiday once a month – receiving about five shillings a week to cover the cost of uniforms &c.
There were no factories for women, and men deemed it a terrible disgrace for their wives to go out to work.
Every Sunday, the local cemetery was full of people visiting the graves of dead relatives, on which they reverently placed flowers.. Almost all children went to church or chapel (Methodist) There were no widow’s pensions, and these widows often went cleaning or washing to better-off neighbours for a shilling a day and food. About 1899 I saw a man riding a penny-farthing bicycle, and sometime afterwards, the crowds were on the street to see a girl riding a cycle.
Many houses had oil lamps, but girls learned [n added later] to crochet and embroider, whilst women searched the rag-bag for pieces to make patch-work quilts.
There were many coal-yards, for people mostly fetched coal, half or even a quarter of a [cut?] in a barrow. People did not travel far, and most inland inhabitants never saw the sea. Boys usually married local girls and lived near their parents. [end of pg49]
The last Christmas at home.
The year was 19
029, and gathered around the festive board, were father, mother, sons, daughters and their spouses. in all, with grandchildren 23 of us.
At the end of the meal, father stood up, and [and added later] his face-beaming, waved across to mother saying
Look, mother – all ours.
Alas that year following, father at 76 [at 76 added later] was called home.
He was the head of the house and
Mother was the heart of the “home“
The story of my early life ends here.
Note: A short time ago, a beautifully-groomed, young divorced, childless wife cynically asked me,
“Whatever did women do, when they did not go out to work”? to which I replied
“They have children, who laboured and fought [and fought added later] to make this country great, so providing the amenities which we all enjoy[.] [end of pg50]
I stayed at school until I was 13 and a half, when I received a letter from The education secretary, saying that I am chosen to begin a teaching career as a monitor[.] I had to work a few months (without pay) to be assessed by The Head Teacher for my qualities &c.
This secret report was favourable, and for two [three crossed out] years after I was a Candidate receiving 3/s a week at first. At the age of fifteen, I passed Candidates examination and was apprenticed to the School Board for three years, until I passed at 18, the teachers uncertificated examination receiving about 18/- a week I am now qualified to teach no more than a class of fifty children.
I studied, (paying all my tuition fees, and cost of books &c) for a further two years under Cloughs College – teaching all day and studying at night & week ends[.]
In April 1909 I received my parchment, announcing that I am a fully certificated teacher, gaining distinction in English language, English literature, and English composition. I am now eligible for a headship, I double my salary gain status [gain status added later] and can teach a class of 60 children –
But in 1913 at a salary of £85 a year [at…year added later] I am happy to leave the profession, and marry my dear husband whose life I shared for 52 years[.]
Whilst paying tribute to the past,
One should be generous to one’s own generation. [end of pg51]
This is a photograph of the main room of a school built around 1900 Not my new co-educational school, but one very similar. This big main room had partition doors, swung blackboards, and tiler (half) walls. Central heating (hot water pipes &c) which ran around the bottom of the walls was installed.
The water was heated by the heat of coal and drain up from the cellars underneath the school. There was a small private room for the head, many more [amenities?]
Notice the posture & the concentration (they are evidently undergoing an examination) and the cleanliness of the scholars.
The teacher at the top of the room is calling from a book. [Illegible word] this is a dictation session. [Image 20, end of pg52, Image 21, end of pg53]
Teaching in the early 1900s.
As a very young child I remember taking 3 pence [d or 6 written above] each Monday morning to “A Dame School”. There were about a dozen of small boys and girls and we were taught by the two maiden sisters. I do not remember what we were taught.
exp except numbers.
At the age of five I entered the infant school of a Board school, where I found boys and girls as fellow scholars. This school had not long been built and had a high ceiling and large windows. There was one main room accommodating 3 classes with the head-mistress’s
room desk in the centre. There were two separate rooms and a “babies room” which had am open fire and a cot for resting any tired child. The other rooms had only a coal stove for heating, and they were lit by gas – with a naked flame. Nearly every day some child sat near the stove suffering either from a cold toothache or earache. I must have learnt to read and write, but I remember best of all [end of pg54] dancing around the maypole, each child holding [d added later] a coloured ribbon, “Happy days”[.]
At the age of seven we were moved to the after school – the girls to the “Girls School” which was in the same ground as the Infant’s The boys went to “The Boys school and boys & girls were now quite isolated from each other. The “not so bright” children went to standard one but fortunately I was placed in standard two.
Personally, I was very happy during the whole of my school life passing through 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 classes. The school-leaving age was thirteen, but as three of us had completed the run of classes, we had a class of our own (ex 7.) We were indeed privileged, and often helped teaching the “awkward” children. My mother was anxious for me to leave at 13 as we had a new baby, and she required help in the home, but fate stepped in. [end of pg55]
The Year 1900
One day, my headmistress called me to her desk, and asked “Would you like to be a teacher?” I readily answered “Yes” The “governess” as she was called, interviewed my mother, and I stayed on until I was 13 ½[.]
One day, I received a letter announcing my appointment as a monitor to a newly-built mixed school, also enclosed was an invitation to a dinner, where we met most of the important councillors (Board members) and fellow guests.
The following Monday morning, duly armed with my credentials, I walked into this grand new school, where I met my new head-master.
Looking down at me he asked, “Well can you teach”? and I readily answered “No. but I can try”
I stayed with him for 13 years, and the day that I left to get married, he reminded me of my self-assurance.
This school had central heating – hot water pipes. A large vestibule entrance [end of pg56] and a bell tower. There were two separate playgrounds, one for boys & one for girls and separate cloak rooms and wash basin
es at each end of the school. There was also a small private room for the head master. The main room could be partitioned for three separate class rooms, and there were three enclosed class rooms. The latter rooms had dual-desks and there was much more space for the teacher’s desk blackboard & table &c.
A modern house had been built in the grounds for the caretaker and family, for he had to be stoking the boilers in the underground cellars for the hot-water pipes which ran all round the schools – infants and mixed.
How well I remember that first day! The workmen were still in & all was confusion. The head was interviewing new pupils & there was only another monitor and one man and one woman teacher.
The head gave me a blackboard and a stick of chalk, and about a dozen boys [end of pg57] and girls stood around. the [nucleous?] of standards one and two,
I had a brain-wave.
I wrote each child’s name on the blackboard & when I came to Arthur I wrote Arther. Like lightening, Arthur called out “Please Miss you can’t spell”,
Humiliated, but nothing [daunted?] I carried on. At length chaos became order, and we settled down very nicely.
In a short time we had altogether 3 male 3 female teachers, and 2 boy monitors 2 girl monitors [2…monitors added later] with “The Head” completing the staff to serve the 336 boys & girls.
The school board mostly made up of local worthies promised a sum of money to meet half the cost of a piano. This money coming of course from the rates.
All the staff set to work – a platform was erected at the end of the main room and one teacher painted the scenery back-cloths. The actors were chosen from the staff and the best singers in the school & “Dick Whittington” [end of pg58] was well attended by parents & friends for several nights.
Now we had a piano.
For two months the monitors received no pay pending approval by the “Head” who also coached us for an hour before school in preparation for an examination in reading, [(the gyres) written underneath] writing, arithmetic Geography & History. & we had to make a garment also. The successful candidates were retained at a weekly salary of 3/ (15p) and continued their studies under the Head until they reached the age of fifteen when we took the “Candidates” examination.
[Following sentence written on adjacent page with arrow pointing to the last sentence] [end of pg59]
Before this examination “Candidates” at the age of fifteen, our fathers had to undertake to care for us – A kind of apprenticeship which was signed in the presence of The School Board
[Following on from previous paragraph] Failing this examination, the students were denied access to teaching. For the next three years the young candidates received tuition at “The teachers training Centre” at a large distant town, where they met boys and girl teachers from the surrounding schools. We had first year, second year and Scholarship classes, and we were taught by special
sists in all subjects.
“Scholarship” at the age of 18 was a government examination and they who passed were qualified to teach a class of 50 children. [end of pg60] My salary now at 18 was approximately 15/ (75p) a week. It felt grand to be entirely in charge of a class, for, previously, we had only assisted, often being required to give some lesson to meet the approval of the staff.
There were no grants given for further study, & very few girls went to college for the 2 years required for study.
Some male teachers borrowed the cost of study at college, and repaid it by instalments on obtaining their first post. This kept them very poor for a considerable time.
[Following paragraph written on adjacent page with arrow pointing between the last sentence and the next] [end of pg61]
A few weeks before Certificate examination all candidates were compelled to be examined by a medical doctor, as that year [1908 written above] superannuation payment was compulsory for the first time [for…time added later] and the dues were stopped from our salary. If the medical was unsatisfactory candidates were not allowed to take “Certificate” (This after studying for 2 years! At our own expense.
[Following paragraph comes after the arrow side note]
For the next two years, I studied almost every evening, after teaching my 50 boys & girls for five days a week, in order to qualify as “A Certificated [d added later]” teacher. I joined a correspondence college, and spent a gruelling time for the next two years, and apart from paying the fees of the college I had to buy many books, paints [illegible letter or word] squares &c. although I was able to borrow many books from “The public Library”[.] [end of pg62]
The women had to work a sampler showing every kind of stitch and embroidery used in hand sewing.
For five days (mornings and afternoons), we sat in the examination room presided over by Governmentst M I
I knew nobody, for I was the only candidate from our schools in Sutton of 36,000 inhabitants [in…inhabitants added later] who took the examination.
3 months later, I received my “parchment” announcing my success in achieving distinctions in “English Language” “English Literature and “English Composition” I received a lovely leather bound book of “Tennyson” from the college & they begged me to continue with my studies.
Alas I was very satisfied for the time being. Now I was responsible for a class of 60 children, My salary was doubled, and I was eligible for A Headship. and what to me was more important, I had a better status, I received the same salary as a college trained woman for now the teaching profession had become very crowded [£90 a year was the maximum; written in a bubble to the side of the page] [end of pg63] as the larger authorities like London, were giving grants for college training to women[.]
On release from college, these girls were unable to get posts in London, and indeed, many worked in the schools without any salary just waiting for someone to get married & leave.
Our Board members thought up another way of getting teachers “on the cheap”. They found posts for married [married added later] women teachers, who agreed to work for £26 a year less than the others. The [N. U. T. ?] soon put a stop to this.
I stayed at school for another five years, enjoying teaching, but I left to get married in 1913.
It was a great wrench to leave the children and the school, where I had been so happy for thirteen years, but I have never regretted leaving, for I have been very happy caring for my husband, children and my home, and I have been fortunate, as I have not needed to earn money all these years, and the memories of those happy teaching years will stay with me forever. [end of pg64]
Over the years, I have met many of my pupils, who always receive me with affection and understanding, and many have personally thanked me for helping them to understand, and I trust that some seeds have fallen on fertile ground.
I had been giving a lesson to my 8 year-olds on the plague and the Great Fire of London, explaining, that the fire, although disastrous at the time, have wiped away many old buildings, mostly made of wood with overhanging rooms[.]
Correcting an essay on the history lesson I came across the literary gem,
The reason that the big fire burnt so quick was because “all houses were joined together [together added later] in a ruck”[.]
Thinking it over, that boy was not far wrong, jobbing is working, doing a job – built and they were ruched (pleated) closed together, just as material is ruched (gathered together.) [end of pg65]
When a child learns to read, he enters a magic garden where he can pick the flowers.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
It is not always wise of parents to encourage children to flau[n]t authority[.]
It is the mind which is master – not the body.
A person exists to be the agent of creative goodness[.]
It is more important for the student to know where to look for information rather than to acquire facts.
Acquire in youth, that, which will requite you for the deprivations of old age.
If one is in a position to influence others one should influence them for good.
Love is a better teacher than sense of duty. [end of pg66]
We limit our affections for a few people (mostly relatives) nearest to us, but we should widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and all nature. “I would like to put my arms around the whole world.” General Boothe [General Boothe added later]
To care for nature and wild life, and yet not care for the needs of people is neither human nor humane.
Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces. It is also 3 meals a day, and work both inside, and outside the home.
Every human being has two needs. The need for love, the need for at least one person to love him, and for one person for him to need and love.
It is just as important to learn what you cannot do, as to know what you can do.
A child learns a good deal more from encouragement and rewards for good behaviour than he does from reprimands & spankings[.] [end of pg67]
‘Maud Clarke’ in John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (eds) The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography1790-1945, 3 vols. (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989): 156
Clarke, Maud. ‘Untitled’. Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 156, available at http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/9479