Life in Ethelred Close
Waiting for Dad to come home from work
The Welwyn Garden Heritage Trust recorded Beth’s Memories in June 2009. The following extracts and audio clip are part of a longer interview.
Beth’s father was “born in Kent and worked in London as a printer and he travelled and he met my mother in London and they married and had me and then in 1924-5 they came to WGC. Possibly to get out of London. He didn’t come for work – he had always been a printer and he travelled all his working life by train to London on the Workmens’ Return that was one and three ha’pence.”
She wasn’t sure how well her mother enjoyed the situation at first as Beth’s father “was out of the house for 12 hours. 7 in the morning and then he would come home at 7 at night and she was there and it was like a building site.”
Beth went to school at Peartree then to Handside School after which she went to work at Cresta Silks. Sewing “from 8 in the morning to 6 at night” Her grandfather had been a bespoke tailor “and my sister and I could make anything. And after about a year or so we were taken off that and I was trained to be a cutter. Joan was also trained to be a cutter but she was very artistic and she went on to be a designer with them and she has been round Europe with them but we both started at 14 years old.”
She remained at Cresta Silks until just before the War when she went to work for GCE – Garden City Electrics. Her friend Cicely’s brother “Ted and Mr Stout opened a small place right on the edge of Hyde Way. Sits back by itself in a completely isolated place. He was going to start making a nozzle for a riveting gun and that had to be done within a thousandth of an inch. You worked on metal – stood up there – huge lathes with four different tools. You had a micrometer and blue print and a bit of knowledge with it, and Cicely and I started there with Ted. There was only Cicely and I there from the very beginning and we were trained to do this and that’s how I became an engineer.”