My last job before leaving at night was to scrub the big stone flagstones in the kitchen. For all of that I got 5/- a week.
I left school in 1939, when I was 14 years old. My first job was in service in a house in Tynemouth, overlooking the tennis courts that King’s School use now. I was a kitchen maid, working from eight o’clock in the morning till eight o’clock at night, with half days on Wednesdays and Sundays. My last job before leaving at night was to scrub the big stone flagstones in the kitchen. For all of that I got 5/- a week. I didn’t stay there long because my Mother said it was too much for me to do. In that house, apart from me, there was a cook, a chambermaid and a housekeeper, but I can’t remember who the family were or what they did. I never saw them, being just a kitchen maid.
The next job I had was in Manson’s in Borough Road, a sweet shop that also sold tobacco and cakes. Miss Manson paid me 7/- a week and I worked until seven o’clock in the evening. On Friday it was an eight o’clock finish and on Saturday nine o’clock. At least there I got Sunday off. After that I went to the Thompson’s Red Stamp Store in Prudhoe Street – I earned 13/- 2d there.
During the War I joined the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute) and was posted to York. We looked after WACs preparing to go abroad, distributing kit. I moved about a bit and in one posting I was on an aerodrome, but they wanted me to go back to being a kitchen assistant, when I was trained up to be an Assistant Manageress. I wasn’t very happy about this and decided to leave. I did a short spell in an ammunition factory before going to the factory of T. Cooke & Sons of York, makers of astronomical telescopes. During the War they were based in a disused factory belonging to Rowntrees, the chocolate people. I was involved with making optical lenses and predictors – all vital to the War effort.