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WW2 - People's War

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My work at Aristoc in Langley Mill

by ambervalley

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Eric Annable
Location of story: 
Langley Mill Derbyshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 May 2004

Just before the war started I was working in a shop which sold most things, (like the shop in the TV programme ''OPEN ALL HOURS''). The shop also sold WINES & SPIRITS which meant that the shop was open until 10 PM. I used to start work at 8AM and finished at approximately 6PM on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday was 1PM, Thursday and Friday I finished at 9PM and Saturday 5PM. The owner of the shop had been a Captain in the First world war and so expected the staff to do voluntary war work and so I joined the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) as a messenger. I was soon promoted to Warden,( there weren't many air raids in our area although the sirens used to go off most nights), but we were out on duty quite a lot and we had to work just the same the next day. This was my 4th job, as I had left school at 14, but the job I wanted was in a factory as a hosiery knitter. The wages were a lot better when you had passed an exam at the age of about 21. My wage in the shop was 15 shillings a week(75 pence).When the war started, I had the chance to get a job in this hosiery factory which made silk stockings. They wouldn't set any lads on until they were 16 because we had to work 'shifts' , 6 AM till 2 PM and 2PM till 10 PM. The name of the company was 'Aristoc', and it was in a village called 'Langley Mill', about 5 miles from the village where I lived, 'Somercotes' in Derbyshire. I really enjoyed working there, I knew when I was finishing work, I had a bit of a rise in wages,(I got 16 shillings (80 pence) a week when I started,) and there were hundreds of girls working there. That is where I met my future wife Jessie Naylor! The stockings were made on long machines, (about 30 feet long), and each machine could make 30 legs at a time in 30 minutes. These legs were transferred onto bars by girls and then onto other M/Cs which knitted the feet. Later the outer edges were joined together by girls, who machined the Seam and so finished the stocking. Later, we had new machines which made the complete stocking in one process. These machines have all gone now as they took up too much space and they have been replaced with seamfree machines, one man could look after 90 m/c's which produced one stocking every 10 seconds. My job was to help the man who was in charge of the machine and learn how to work it, but after a while when we had got used to the M/Cs it finished up that the lads did all the work and the Knitter took it easy. The men would give their lad a tip if everything went alright such as no spoilt work, and some of them were really mean, 6d.tip (2 and halfpence), but I was lucky, I got 1s.6p.(7and halfpence). We didn't have to wear any special clothing but we did have to keep our hands soft and have no rough nails because of the stockings getting drawn threads. As with all machinery, we had to be very careful when operating any machines, such as having loose clothing and taking care where you put your hands when near moving parts. It wasn't dangerous operating these machines if you were careful, although accidents did happen.

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