I'm up by 5.30am, wash in cold water in the basin in the bedroom
and get my working clothes on. Elizabeth's up early so there's a
nice warm kitchen and hot tea and bread and butter waiting.
We don't leave much before 6 am, this house being so close to the
factory. It beats walking a couple of miles before you start work
and home again after a long hard day.
I started work at Thomas Heathcoat's factory in Barnstaple, just
before my 10th birthday. I moved to the lace factory in Tiverton
30 years ago when the Barnstaple factory closed.
work on the frame machines now, that twist the silk thread around
to make the net. That's what John Heathcoat invented. They're clever
machines. I started as a machine lad on one shilling and sixpence
a week and now I'm in charge of three machines with a couple of
machine lads to help me.
I'm too tired to do much when I get home just after 6pm. Elizabeth
has supper ready. She's a good cook.
Monday is washday. I get up a bit earlier than usual, about 4.30,
to get my boiler filled and lit as well as cleaning and lighting
the water's heating I sort out the dirtiest clothes to leave till
last.Then I fill the dolly tub and get to work with the old dolly
peg and elbow grease. It takes all morning to wash and rinse the
I blue bag the whites to make them nice and bright and there's
the shirt collars and things to starch.
Alice works mornings in the lace finishing room, she'll start full
time when she's 13, so she's home to give me a hand with the mangling
in the afternoon. We try to be finished by 5.30. I'm glad when it's
fine so we can get most of it dry on the line. Otherwise it's hanging
by the range to dry and John's not keen on that when he gets home
for his supper just after 6.00. We usually have cold meat cooked
with onions, carrots and potatoes. Not much time for cooking on