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15 October 2014
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‘Working in the Cricklewood RAF Factory’

by cambsaction

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Stella Davis
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22 December 2005

I was 20 or so years old when I joined up and I volunteered to go to the RAF factory in Cricklewood — the factory that dealt with aeroplane parts. It was a hour’s journey from Muswell Hill every morning — I left at 7 in the morning and got home late at night.

There were mainly women working there, with just a few boys and men to do the cutting. I moved from drilling holes on to the template cutting area, to get more money: I got an increase to £10 and that was important because I was saving up to get married. But it was a hard job: I had to screw templates onto another surface, and they had to be tight enough, ready to go on to the machine which cut out the shapes of the aeroplanes; if I hadn’t tightened the bolts enough, the man would have cut his hand so I had to be very careful.

It was a terribly noisy place; I don’t know how we put up with the noise, it was so deafening. And it could be dangerous too; once I bent over a machine when I was working and I caught my hair in it; I was lucky because I was able to pull my hair out in time before it scalped me — others had been known to scalp themselves.

It was important to do my bit for the war; I worked there for about 2 years and then I had to leave because I got TB: the fibre which I was working with, when it was cut, there was a lot of dust blown about and it got on the lungs. I heard later that some people did get tuberculosis because of that. Anyway I got it but it wasn’t bad, it was my left lung, and I stayed on with my bother’s wife in Muswell Hill until I went to the hospital in South Mimms.

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