Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Wigan Album

May Mill


Mill Girls from MAY MILL 1930's
Views: 3,022
Item #: 29528
A group of mill girls from May Mill, Pemberton 1930's. Notice the middle girl back row has a small 'tool' fastened to her wrist. I think this was used to re-knot broken threads on the looms? Maybe someone could enlighten us if this is true.

Comment by: Veronica on 4th July 2017 at 09:03

The girl in the middle at the front looks strangely familiar.... Wonder if she is related!

Comment by: Maureen on 4th July 2017 at 09:05

Ron,I went to Eckersleys straight from School to follow my Mam..stayed for twelve months until something better came up..although I could earn good money as bobbin winder..and I wore that 'tool' it was called a was used to tie the spool thread to the bobbin...I loved working there..but of course being 'miss vain' I wanted to work where I could be dressed up..but the atmosphere in the mill was second to none.

Comment by: Maureen on 4th July 2017 at 11:20

Ha ha not a knitter,but a's this silly I-pad putting its own letters in again.

Comment by: Philip Gormley. on 4th July 2017 at 12:36

The 'tool' has been identified as being a Knitter, with first-hand confirmation to boot. Wikipedia tells how the task of repairing broken thread had previously been performed by a Piecer; usually a child for heaven's sake. The crew shown on the photo appear to have been a 'rum' lot. And what about Beryl the Peril, at top-right - she's a knockout!

Comment by: Philip Gormley. on 4th July 2017 at 12:56

Knitter ye not, Maureen. There's every chance we might each have been Sold down the Swannee, by your gizmo. Ha ha.

Comment by: Roger on 4th July 2017 at 13:37

A picture of a manual knotter here.

Comment by: John G on 4th July 2017 at 14:11

The two on the right must have enjoyed Saturday nights, a bent nose and teeth knocked out.

Comment by: Veronica on 4th July 2017 at 14:31

Maureen I admire your tenacity in staying for 12 months - I 'stuck' it for 2 weeks! Much to the sorrow of my mam and my dad said I would be neither 'use nor ornament'!!! Left school on the Friday and started work on the Monday-what an eye-opener that was! They deserved more than medals those girls - certainly made of stern stuff. I was a big softie!

Comment by: Maureen on 4th July 2017 at 15:42

Veronica,wasn't it great when you could walk out of a job and start another one the following week..from there I went straight to Wilbrooks credit firm to work in the office,it was situated next to the Empress cafe more or less facing the Ritz cinema..and 'vain me' got to be dressed up instead of being full of cotton..but still loved working at the mill.

Comment by: Albert. on 4th July 2017 at 15:44

John G. John. I Expect in the thirties, dental care would be to all intent, and purposes, non existent, I have some recollection, in the war years, of using soot to clean my teeth.

Comment by: Dave on 4th July 2017 at 16:13

Absolutely Veronica, like many from school to the factory. When my sister was asked by her teacher what she would like to be when she left school she replied an actress Miss. The teacher chuckled! Yes , she scoffed when I left school I wanted to be a ballerina... don't worry you will soon get over it.
My sister declined the prospect of working at Heinz,s as her friends wowed with excitement and anticipation, to be guess what ? Doubt very much any of the above ladies were encouraged to persue their dreams. I ended up in a factory, just like you and many others Veronica, I am immensely proud
my sister went against this to seek her dreams.

Comment by: John G on 4th July 2017 at 18:02

Albert: I will bow to your experience of the oral situation in the war, it's just they reminded me of two girls in Glasgow when I was younger, every now and again I have flash backs, " well I say girls" that's an understatement. Oh by the way Albert start using Colgate fresh, it's better than soot.

Comment by: Veronica on 4th July 2017 at 18:08

I've worked in shops and offices and a sewing factory but the best job I have ever worked at besides working in a hospital was the ROF. The camaraderie was brilliant and I would do it all again if I could. No regrets about that at all Dave and Maureen.

Comment by: Veronica on 4th July 2017 at 19:06

During the war( sounds like Uncle Albert) it was said that the British had the worst teeth in Europe...I wonder if that's why the girls were so entranced with the Americans.

Comment by: Jarvo on 4th July 2017 at 19:13

Saying it's the struggling thirties, none of um look clempt...

Comment by: Albert. on 4th July 2017 at 19:51

John.G. John. It is long since that I put soot on the back burner. At eighty three I consider myself fortunate to have my choppers. Now use a good toothpaste, and always have my six monthly check ups.

Comment by: GW. on 5th July 2017 at 02:05

Good on your sister Dave. It would have taken courage and spirit to break away from the factory fodder attitude of society back in the day. Todays kids have a lot more choices. I wish more of them realised it.....and John G ...i seen her first.

Comment by: Mick on 5th July 2017 at 06:04

In the early 20th century, many people couldn’t afford dental care, and a popular 21st birthday present was to have all your teeth removed and replaced with a set of dentures – the idea was it would save both a great deal of pain, and the expense of dental treatment later in life.

Comment by: Maureen on 5th July 2017 at 09:17

I don't think the factory work was the hardest at all...the hardest job I ever had was working ten years in Whelley .Hospital as. Nursing Auxillary ..looking after thirty that was work and I loved it and loved the old folk like they were my own..but it sure tells on the bones as you get older..but nevertheless a very satisfying job.

Comment by: Veronica on 5th July 2017 at 09:44

I agree with you there Maureen it wasn't the hardest work but it was the most repetitive and I couldn't stand the boredom of it. Auxiliary work is physically hard on the wards and many nurses suffer from back pain. My job was on the clerical side and keeping up with all the comings and goings and it got very stressful towards the end. It seemed more and more work was piled on. I couldn't do now what I did then although I liked my job.

Comment by: Veronica on 5th July 2017 at 10:04

Just imagine Maureen if we had had the opportunity to go to Art College !!! This would have happened these days for us! Like Marlon Brando said in the "Waterfront" " - " I could have been Somebody"!!!**** Only joking ...but who knows!

Comment by: Philip Gormley. on 5th July 2017 at 10:27

Mick - That would have been quite some 21st Birthday present! During the 1970s, a senior member of our Darts & Dominoes Section told how he had instructed his dentist to remove all of his teeth, despite being troubled by just one tooth, presumably the others weren't exactly Bristol Fashion. I don't imagine the click-click of the dentist's tools would have bothered Big George, much, as he had been torpedoed three times during World War Two. Thanks.

Comment by: Maureen on 5th July 2017 at 11:38

Yes Veronica,I totally agree re the Art College..who knows what fate would have thrown at us..for a kick off I wouldn't have to put up with sciatica and slipped disc pain lol..probably paint brush holder that's a text book description (Not).over to you Veronica..until Ron tells us off.

Comment by: Veronica on 5th July 2017 at 13:25

Who's to know if there were a couple of academics amongs those girls ...they just didn't have a chance or opportunity -they probably 'knew their place'. Even if they could have passed a scholarship their parents probably couldn't afford all the trappings of uniform etc. I know a person who passed the scholarship, went to the Mount in Bolton then chose to work in a mill!!

Comment by: irene roberts on 5th July 2017 at 16:07

I passed my Scholarship, (eleven plus), and because my Dad was on a low wage, I was awarded a grant for the Grammar School uniform. If my parents had had to buy it, I couldn't have gone to the Grammar School.....simple as that.

Comment by: John G on 5th July 2017 at 19:32

GW: which one are you referring to, if it was the one in Glagow on the night out you should have told me before she took her glass eye out and started winking at me, believe me I would not have stood in your way.

Comment by: GW on 5th July 2017 at 20:53

'Oh no Mr G. That sounds like my sister.

Comment by: John G on 6th July 2017 at 10:14

Ron: Sorry Ron got side tracked with memories, back to this photo of the mill girls, to me it shows images of how young girls used to be and female comradeship, for example the young girl on the left back row looks innocent and sweet, but that's my view as a male and may be the females among us will disagree.I've worked with females on security with tattoos and walking round with steroid necks and arms, what happened Ron where did feminism take that turn in the road.

Comment by: Pete Barker on 7th July 2017 at 14:56

My old Dad would have been a peer of this group having been born in 1923. He had several sisters and living down Miry lane would definitely have been peers and/or friends . My Dad wanted to be a classical pianist and even went to Chethams school in Manchester for interview. His set piece was 'Claire De Lune'. Unfortunately, my family couldn't afford to send him, so the mill it was to be. He later went onto serve in WW2 including D-Day landings (D-Day +3).

Comment by: Dtease on 7th July 2017 at 20:55

I know kids that I went to school with who deliberately tried to fail the 11 plus. Even at the tender age of eleven, they were well aware of the burden passing would put on their families, It makes me sad to think of all that talent wasted.

Comment by: Philip Gormley. on 8th July 2017 at 11:00

Dtease - I've been told one or two other similar cases about young people applying almost scant regard on 'the big day', but I wouldn't be surprised if influences other than that which you put forward, may also have led to the alternative route. I'm reminded of a T.V. reporter being told that a particular, young and very hungry, African boy had no knowledge of his own age nor what day of the week it was; his birthday parties and Saturday mornings might just as well have been something from outer space. You're quite right; talent never realised.

Comment by: Julie on 8th July 2017 at 18:53

DTease, WOW!, thought it was just me. Please tell more . I had friends at school , who could have 'walked the 11 plus' AND !! admitted they failed intentionally. It shocked me at school incredibly, but not now, as I continue to recognise my shallow ignorance.

Comment by: Julie on 8th July 2017 at 20:48

DTease, WOW!, thought it was just me. Please tell more . I had friends at school , who could have 'walked the 11 plus' AND !! admitted they failed intentionally. It shocked me at school incredibly, but not now, as I continue to recognise my shallow ignorance.

Comment by: DTease on 8th July 2017 at 23:45

Julie, I was thinking of one boy in particular. His mother was a widow and he had a brother and a sister. His mother worked long hours just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table so all he wanted to do was leave school as soon as possible and contribute to the families finances.
To my knowledge, he never told his mother what he had done. He knew that she would have been heartbroken had she known. The sad thing is, neither he nor anyone else will ever know if he would have passed that test. The good news is that both of his own children went on to University so they received the further education that he had denied himself.

Comment by: irene roberts on 9th July 2017 at 11:11

A little difference in the subject, I know, but my Dad was born in 1908, (he was 44 when I was born). and was naturally left-handed. At school he was told that it was unnatural to write with the left hand and was FORCED to write with his right hand. The result was that as my Dad grew to adulthood his handwriting was terrible. He knocked in nails, chopped wood and threw darts with his left hand, but had never been allowed to write naturally. What a long way we have come since then, thank heaven.

Comment by: Philip Gormley. on 9th July 2017 at 15:57

Dtease - I know a chap whom to this day can go twelve rounds, so to speak, with quite a few others on various subjects, but upon leaving Grammar School, had no desire to apply for Uni'. A few years down the line he was reputed to have failed a particular job interview by giving outrageous answers to the questions that had been put to him (I don't imagine that the interview would have taken very long). Another, much less talented, chap whom I also know, endured prolonged hardship for a number of years because of situations similar to that mentioned in your post. It makes you wonder, doesn't it. The lad mentioned in your post, and whose two children went to Uni', continued to look on the bright side. Regards.

Comment by: Jarvo on 10th July 2017 at 13:23

I DO NOT believe that ANY working class father (or mother) would deny their son or daughter a place at Grammar School...NO CHANCE!

Comment by: DTease on 10th July 2017 at 15:03

Jarvo, I think you've missed the point.

Comment by: Jarvo on 10th July 2017 at 19:13

On the contrary, I have heard silly stories about families not affording the uniform. What a load of tosh! NO father would deny his child a decent education, not even in those times...There was always help available to buy a second hand uniform...FGS!

Comment by: irene roberts on 10th July 2017 at 19:48

Jarvo, you and I are best mates and fellow-writers, but I have to disagree with you for once. If my Mam and Dad had had to pay for the uniform for Hindley and Abram Grammar School, I couldn't have gone there. They just didn't have the money, simple as that. I don't want to argue with a friend but I lived with them in that time. My dad Bob WOULD NOT go into debt for love nor money and borrowing was the only way they could have paid for the uniform. My Mam told me that, years before I was born, the daughters of the Corner Shop owners went to the same Grammar School that I attended, regardless of academic prowess, because their parents could pay, whilst a lot of cleverer children had to miss out. That was the way it was, Jarvo. Luckily, in 1964, grants were available for less-privileged pupils, me included.

Comment by: DTease on 10th July 2017 at 23:11

Jarvo, I envy you your well provided childhood. Would that we all could have had the same.

Comment by: Jarvo on 11th July 2017 at 19:13

Well provided? Hardly. But my mother and father, despite having 7 kids, had their priorities. My sister was fortunate to attend WGHS; and my mum and dad backed her all the way to Sheffield University. Irene: I understand that poverty was rife in the early sixties and it was unfornunate that you didn't go. If you had gone, I can imagine you being a top selling author by now. Money was tight, but chances like that weren't wasted...But I do understand your situation. Best always.

Comment by: irene roberts on 11th July 2017 at 20:55

Hello again, Jarvo.....we've got a bit cross-wired here, love! I DID go to Hindley and Abram Grammar School as I was awarded a grant for the uniform due to the low wage my Dad was on. The thing was, in those days, you couldn't buy basic school skirts, trousers, blouses etc. from Tesco or M &S, as you can now. It had to be purchased from specialist outlets and you had to have all the things on the Grammar School list, including a gabardine raincoat, which you probably could have managed without! The outfitters for Hindley Grammar were Greenwood's and Mrs. Smith of Market Street, Hindley. We had a felt hat, blazer, sash, gymslip, blouses, school scarf and gabardine mac. What a palaver....pure St. Trinians! Yes, I loved writing at school and some of my happiest adult years were when I wrote for the Wigan Heritage magazine, "Past Forward". I was lucky enough to receive some lovely letters from people all over the place saying my articles had brought back memories, even from my "babies class", (as we said before it became "reception"), teacher, who remembered me, and we struck up a lovely penfriendship for a few years until she sadly was an absolute joy! x.

Comment by: Jarvo on 12th July 2017 at 08:46

Sorry, Irene, I must have 'ran' through your post. I remember my sister had to have a drab brown raincoat for winter and she hated it. Otherwise, she loved Wigan Girl's High. They also had summer dresses to wear. Looking back, I regard my self as unlucky, as I suffered from Rheumatic Fever at the tender age of nine, and it lasted two years. However, even after so much time off school, I did pass my first half of the scholarship with ease, but failed the second. I often wonder 'what if?' But fate deemed otherwise and I can't say that I caught much harm. Get some memories on General! Take care. x

Comment by: Philip Gormley. on 12th July 2017 at 10:02

Dtease - Sleep easy in your bed, sir. We're all under the same impulse; 'keep a roof over our yeds' (get the back four sorted-out before unleashing the rest.). Regards.

Comment by: Veronica on 12th July 2017 at 10:35

My sister-in- law went to the Girll's High School but only at 13yrs age -that must have been a second chance at passing. She loved it and went on to Nursery Nursing after training at Newton -Le - Willows. She was still expected to take her younger brother to school first and was very often late
which didn't go down well.

Comment by: Mary on 12th July 2017 at 18:21

Irene, don't remember these grants you mention when our kid passed
his 11 plus to grammar school, and we had nowt. My mam , had to pay hp
for the bike to say well done. Put simply, my mother and father gave us out of pure and simple hard work and graft, nothing else. There wasn't any other option in those days, not like a free house you can get now for doin
sod all, as long as you have five or six. The mothers of 12 worked! They went through two wars, took everything that came with it, BUT ! Still many
Had a 20/30 year work record

Comment by: irene roberts on 12th July 2017 at 20:35

Mary, I remember my Mam being given a list of the clothes for which I got the grant to take to Mrs. Smith's Outfitters in Market Street, Hindley. I know some of the children I went to Hindley Grammar with had been promised, (and got), bikes and other gifts for passing their eleven-plus. I was promised nowt, so when I GOT nowt, at least I wasn't disappointed!

Comment by: Albert. on 18th July 2017 at 17:16

At the extreme end of the thirties and throughout the early forties there seemed, in the ordinary schools', a distinct undercurrent of feeling, even as a schoolboy, I distinctly felt it. That to be the son of a miner you were on a different social level, than to be the son of a railwayman, or someone in some profession. My mother was given a pair of second hand manual hair clippers, and to save money, she cut my hair, unfortunately, quite badly. I was only about seven, and the teacher had me stood in front of the class, whilst all the class laughed at my haircut, as it seemed my mother had put a basin on my head, and cut around the edges. I wonder what would have happened if that had occurred at the present time. Such nasty things stick in your mind, even after many, many years, have passed.

Comment by: Veronica on 19th July 2017 at 11:16

Albert that certainly wouldn't be allowed today and you are right it's something you would never forget. I remember getting ink on my face from the inkwell when first starting to use it. How I managed that I don't know! I was sent to another classroom to show the teacher what I had done - I can remember being ashamed! Teachers must have had many a laugh at our expense.

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