Interview about life in New Bradwell and the depression in the 1930's.
In this interview Kathy Swain and her sister Muriel describe their childhood in Bradwell.
Kathy Swain recalls as a youngster the living conditions in the old railway cottages,’ it used to be terrible draughty and it was dark … really terrible, worse than the slums’.
Muriel Swain also recalls the cottages ‘they were painted in railway colours…’
Kathy recalls that ‘You could see the railway white and red towels on the line… didn’t have a garden… so they used to peg the washing out across the alley way from one neighbours to the other neighbours’.
The sisters remember how some of the older women would sit out on their front doorsteps waiting for their husbands to come home and how on a Friday some would meet up with their husbands to go shopping in the market. Kathy refers to market traders including the ‘old crock man’ and her memories of an ‘old flare lamp… marvellous because they used to make a noise…’ They recall buying winkles from the fish man and a little old tearoom where ‘you could always get a bit of cake cheap… after half past five’.
Their reminiscences continue with reference to the practice of local women and family members assisting with delivering babies and laying out the deceased.
They refer to the traditional ‘payday’ contribution of the Royal Engineer public house, and the Pinfold family, who ran it. On payday, they would line up the drinks and have them ready for the men, with the correct change placed in individual envelopes.
Muriel recalls that many workers from outlying villages, including her ‘grampy’, who lived in Calverton village, would have to get up at 4 a.m. and walk several miles to get to the Works at Wolverton. There was no alternate means of transport, and other workers from further afield, especially Northampton would be brought in on a special workmen’s train.
Kathy describes the many tasks she undertook, working on railway carriage upholstery. The skill required to produce hand made netting for the luggage racks, and working in the Pillow room with the feather pillows for the sleepers. She recalls the attrition on her hands sewing leather to make tie backs for sleeper curtains
She discusses how both men and women worked in gangs, equally sharing out the jobs and the money. If someone didn’t pull their weight everyone’s money would drop.