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Lily Newick's Factory Story

by ActionBristol

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Lily Newick
Location of story: 
Canons Marsh
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 May 2005

This Story is submitted by a volunteer on behalf of Radio Bristol Action desk at City of Bristol College.

Lily Newick remembers July 1941 when she started work at Canons Marsh, the old tobacco factory, which was called the Eleven bond.

It was a repair shop where all the engines went to be taken apart and washed in parrafin. I was on the carburetta section assembling the carburettas which I didn't find particularly difficult but I used to be a dressmaker and it was a bit of a shock! Especially since I had to get my hands dirty!

We worked 6 days a week from 7.30 until 5.30 and alternate Saturdays and Sundays. Saturdays for time and a half money but Sundays we got double.

I got paid less than those who were 21 as I was just 19 and a half at the time which annoyed me a lot! There was no specific set wage but as team we did get a bonus for faster work. We di get between 6 and 7 pounds for the week as far as I can remember. The man that was operating the lift only earnt 5 pounds a week which I expect was very frustrating for him and I think he'd have been happy to see the back of us women after the war!

If you were more than 2 minutes late we were docked wages and quite a few times that happened to me!

There was no canteen at 1st and we had to go across to Electricity House which was taken over by the BAC at the time. We didn't have much time for lunch so we had to run all the way there, wolf it down, and run all the back! Eventually a canteen came to our building.

After the war the building couldn't be used as a store for the tobacco any more because the floors had been saturated with parafin, petrol and oil. The building was demolished shortly after. The site is now occupied by the Direct Line insurance office, opposite @Bristol.

On the whole I enjoyed working there, especially because I was working with lots of people and it was quite good fun. From 3pm until half past we were allowed to listen to 'Workers Playtime' so we heard all of the latest songs!

I worked there right up until January 1946, 6 months after being married in July 1945.

My husband was already working in the repair shop when I started and that was where we met. He was often stationed on the cathedral roof as an ARP Warden.

Just 10 days after we were married was VJ Day and we all walked down to the centre (a 3-mile walk!) for lots of dancing, singing and partying but we couldn't stay long because we had to go to work in the morning! On the walk home my husband shinned up one of the gas powered lamp posts and lit it with his cigarette lighter in celebration!

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