Oral History

Mr & Mrs George Payne talk about life in Barwell when they were young.


Interviewer: Mr. D. J. Wood (DW)

Interviewed: Mr George Payne (GP), Mrs Payne (W)

Date of Interview: 10th October 1984




DW. What sort of games did you play ?

GP. Oh some rum, some rum games I'll tell you that.

W. Knocking on folk's door.

GP. Yah knocking on folk's door and running; spirit rapping; put a bit of some'ut on the window, git'ut the back and keep tapping the window till they come.

W. Yeh a bit a string on the knob and go to the other side of the road and let folk's knob go, 'ed to make your own fun then.

GP. Then follow my leader in the dark and you would run in the pig sty's and every thing and you didn't know where you were gooing.

W. They were happy days altho' we hadn't got nowt.

GP. Then we'd go scrumping apples and one thing or another in the dark, playing under the lamp, and old Tom Martin would come and run us, the bobby. Ate'er get up in the morning and tek tea down to the factories and tek breakfast.

W. For eight o'clock.

GP. Yeh for eight o'clock and then at four o'clock you ate'er make haste out of school and tak the tea down fur tea and all that sort of thing. Thrupence a wick when you'd done it all wick, thrupence if you were lucky. DW. What time would they have started work ?

GP. I started at 'alf past six. When I started work at thirteen, started 'alf past six ge'or at eight, come hum for 'alf hour fur breakfast. Go back at half past eight work till one. Go back at two, off at four till 'alf past, or 'alf past five. Back again when you've had your tea then work till seven. If you put in an 'our over time would be eight, and twelve on Saturdays fur six and six punce a week (thirty two new pence).

W. They ought to grumble and strike en't they, today.

DW. What times did you go to school

H & W. Nine to twelve, two to four.

GP. You got a smack across the arse with a cane, if you wasn't very careful and go hum and say I had this, ar' and you'll have another if you act like that when you go back.

W. That's what they ought to do today ge'em the cane.

GP. They can't cane 'em today. Well ar' John you know ar' John, he had it in his time, the cane oh ar'.

DW. Tell me about school ?

GP. You know who were gaffer be god, you know you were frit of the school master.

W. You dare 'unt speak.

GP. Oh no, Walter Tims lived across the road theer, oh dear didn't they slate him they played on some more then others. Such as Mary Kitson who were somebody, they'd get off.

W. They could do as they like, you see they could do better then such as us.

GP. There used to be a chap, lad with belly ache he used to stutter you know, Kitty would get up and act, but he would not say owt to her. If it had been me I should have had the cane you see.

DW. What sort of thing did you learn at school ?

GP. Not like they do today reading; writing; sums.

W. Sums are different in't they.

GP. History, all liked that you know. They were very strict, the teachers and that you know, oh yah.

W. I've got a certificate for going seven years at a stretch with out having half a day. Wouldn't keep me at home you know me mother you'd have to go.

GP. There used to be an old woman live here, old Harriet Wright. Clara Wright the daughter used to keep the shop up here. She used to give me a penny on Saturday morning to go down Cramp's or down High Street. 'Ap'orth of snuff and then come back and go Fretten's ( that was a little fruit shop ) for ap'ny jam tart, about as big as a plate, penny the lot. Now it would cost you? A bit of snuff 'er ten pence, two bob, the old money.

DW. So really for the three pence a week, you had for taking the breakfast etc. you could do quite a bit with it ?

GP. You could go in the fish shop and get a penny piece of fish and a few chip for a penny.

W. We could have a pound of mixed sweets for tuppence.

GP. Oh ar' oh 'ar broken biscuits, you could get a bag full for ap'ny of broken biscuits.

DW. About what year ?

GP. You could get them before the first war, 'cause you could. The cheapest bottle of stout. I used to fetch a bottle of stout for a woman, used to fetch it from The Keys, was either tuppence or tuppence ap'ny a bottle. There used to be cheap ale, but when I started drinking at sixteen, it was four punce a pint then. There was one okey-man come from Leicester old Tonio.

W. You used to take a big cup out for ap'orth.

GP. I know one thing I can tell you, mother used to say where's ar' George, is the Wake come or is there a steam roller, ar' there's one down street mam. Well go down theer and sit on the step and watch it. I would sit there all day watching it and when the Wake come I'd be down there all day an'al.

DW. What did you do when you started work ?

GP. Well the war were on, we'd a'ter do lots of jobs, mans jobs what the kids wouldn't do today. you a'ter to do 'um. When you started work in a factory you a'ter work my god. It never altered much neither you were frit to shift. 'ar they were rum days in the factories. You'd work for nothin'. When I had this house built I was only on three pounds sixteen shilling, that's all I was on.

W. You never did get much money at work, never.

DW. What sort of things did you do for entertainment say in the years you were courting.

W. We'd got the Picture Palace.

GP. We hadn't got one when we were kids though.

W. He said when we were courting, we went twice a week.

GP. No tele. Nothing like that. There used to be a Blood Hut come as they called 'um, for acting you know.

DW. Tell me about the Blood Hut ?

GP. There was Hollaway's and Sinclair's; East Lynn; Red Barn; Dumb Man from Manchester, use'd to be grand an'al 'ant it.

W. Well it were then.

GP. They were good little actors weren't they.

DW. So the Blood Hut was a actor's group?

GP. Oh yes, all true you know Hollaway and Sinclair's company were the first to do Dumb Man from Manchester, all true.

DW. How long was the Blood Hut here for ?

GP. Months, oh 'ar months.

W. Used to lodge in the place.

GP. I think it about finished over the Colliery Road some whire, that was about the last place it got to.

DW. What about illness ?

GP. Oh 'ar typhoid fever. I had that, everybody had that, they reckoned it was the wells you know. There's not a lot of that about now you see now they've done away with the wells.

DW. What about TB. and consumption ?

W. Oh that were about. I heard of people died with that.

GP. Used take 'um to Markfield, oh 'ar if you'd got that you were done.

W. That was terrible weren't it.

DW. What about strikes ?

W. No you couldn't afford it.

GP. I come out a week when I worked at Ward's. Second war that were, just after, on army boots, that's all.

W. Miner's they struck and they come collecting outside the factories where we were at work.

GP. Well, the unions never did note for the shoe trade at all. Never are done, a poor trade the shoeing wo'r. Hosiery were better in Hinckley. I was down me uncle Jack's one day. I was down theer, down the bottom of the garden. Tom Powers own 'um. He'd got a man who used to work for him called Panter. He came down with a great big long old fashion dray. He says well Charlie ( He lived next to my uncle Jack) Well Charlie you've not paid no rent, and tom says I've got to take the front door off. You've not paid no rent, so he says you've got to be starved to death. Charlie says you take the door off then. So he took the door off and went. Charlie come down and said that don't bother me. So he took the closet door off and went and put it on where the front door was.

DW. Was this a regular thing ?

GP. No oh no they wouldn't a done that years ago. Only to the rum'un you know. Well they'd got no money to pay. They wouldn't bother that time of day.

DW. I understand that there were a fair amount of drunkenness about.

GP. Oh they'd have weeks at it.

DW. So some were half drunk most of the time ?

GP. They'd been making elderberry wine you know. They'd put a round of toast in to make it work. I seen them fetch it out, MMmmmmm they used to love it oh 'ar.

DW. What did they put the toast in for ?

GP. It helps make the elderberry work. Oh 'ar they'd make wine and everything that time of day be god. Oh 'ar they'd have weeks, then they'd go off to Greens Lane not Peggs Lane, and take a barrel of ale and say 'er call it Green Lane wake. Some of 'um won't work. Never seen a woman in a pub then you know, not in Barwell anyhow. You might see a odd un in Hinckley, but you wouldn't in Barwell they wouldn't have them in.

DW. That did not mean they did not drink ?

GP. Oh they'd take a bottle outdoors if they wanted one, but you wouldn't see a woman in a pub, not sitting down oh no, not when we were kids. I used to go up granny's a lot you know at weekends. They kept a shop top of Castle Street. They use'd to make all their own sweets black nobs, pear drops and everything. They'd have a great big pot on the fire, it's a wonder they didn't get Castle Street a fire. They used to have a hook on the wall and put the stripes in somehow, then they get a pad on the table and roll remould and get scissors and cut 'um about one new penny a pound, I think they wor'


Transcript by: Jean & David Wood.


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