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B.S.Bacon toy factory, Llanrwst
VN020 Vanda MacMillan, B.S.Bacon toy factory, LlanrwstVanda left school at fifteen and went to work in a grocer's shop, serving behind the counter, but she wasn't keen on it, as there was a lot of paper work, people used to put their goods down on a bill that they paid on Friday. She can't remember how long she was there. She got married at the age of seventeen. After the shop, she went to work in a woollen mill in Trefriw, which was hard work. She was on the loom just before she left, making quilts. She can't remember how long she was there and said she earned about £4. She bought clothes from a catalogue with her wages, and also went to the pictures, bought make up. She can't remember how old she was when she went to the factory. She'd got married and had three children, but the family needed extra money, so she heard they wanted people in the toy factory and she made arrangements with her mother to have her youngest child, for which she gave her mother half her wages. Vanda worked as a seasonal worker in the toy factory, Llanrwst, in the run up to Christmas. She worked on painting flowers on the wooden dolls houses and really enjoyed it. She left because the place was going down and they were laying off seasonal workers. She worked as a cleaner for a little while before getting a job in a care home.
VN003 Yvonne Stevens, B.S.Bacon toy factory, Llanrwst;Dolgarrog Aluminium, Dolgarrog;Hotpoint, Llandudno;Danline, LlanrwstYvonne worked in Llanrwst toy factory on leaving school at 15, where she painted the wooden toys. She was one of the youngest and worked with two older women she called Aunty Lena and Aunty Martha. She liked the toys, which were well made out of wood, dolls houses and garages and farms, but could never afford to buy them. She enjoyed working there but wanted to earn more money, so she got a job at Dolgarrog Aluminium as an inspector. They made aluminium for lots of things from saucepans to corrugated roofs, and her job was checking for marks on the aluminium before it went to the packing dept. It was a very big factory, over a thousand workers, and she used to get the bus there from Llanrwst. She met her husband there and left the factory when her son was born two years after they married. She did cleaning jobs afterwards but never factory work again.
VSE025 Mair Richards, Forma, Merthyr;Kayser Bondor, Merthyr;Courtaulds, Merthyr;Chard's, London;AB Metals, Abercynon;Barton's, MerthyrMair left the grammar school because of her father’s ill-health, at 15½ and worked for W.H. Smiths before joining Kayser Bondor c.1952. Her mother was against her working in a factory. She describes the interview, the spotless factory – timing of toilet breaks; hand-cutting – shades and sizes of materials; producing bras and slips in huge orders; the importance of KB for Merthyr. In Dowlais (1960 onwards) they made silk stockings and other garments. She remembers raising money in the factory after the Aberfan disaster. She notes the Xmas celebrations; the rate of pay, unions, one strike for pay and how Courtaulds treated them. Accidents with the cutting knives. She didn’t like working at A.B. Metals – it was dirty and the girls were different. She returned to KB and when it closed she moved to Barton’s and then to Forma – supervising the cutting room. She finished in 1995.
Belt making factory, Ynysmeudwy
VSW029 Anonymous, Revlon 'powder puff' factory, Pontardawe;Belt making factory, YnysmeudwyThe speaker had to leave school because her father wasn’t well and go to work in the belt factory. Within a year she was a supervisor. She could bring work home to earn extra money. She doesn’t feel they were well treated – they had to work hard. The smell of glue was very strong. The factory closed after 2½ years and she moved to Revlon, where she worked for further 2½ years. She left when she became pregnant..
Berlei Bras, Dowlais
VSE015 Luana Dee, Sobells, Aberdare;TBS South Wales Ltd, Merthyr;NATO clothing factory, Rhymney;Guest Keen and Nettlefold (GKN), Merthyr;Thorns, Merthyr;Berlei Bras, Dowlais;Lines (Triang), MerthyrLuana talks about her colourful family background and returning from abroad to MT. She left school at 15 (1967) and shortly afterwards began working in Berlei Bras as a machinist (2 years). Mixture of shy and assertive girls there. Brilliant German Pfaff machines. Fashion parades with employees modelling – lingerie. Piecework – paid per bra. Seconds thrown in bins and had to repair – not earning then. Eyesight good and she was fast so put on black bras. More difficult and so loosing money. But she was moved to stop her making trouble. Threatened because she stirred things up. Had to ask to go to toilet and supervisor knocking door. Watching them all the time. Sacked – quality of work? Or too forthright? Straight into another job. In BB’s - fashion parade on factory floor itself - Miss Berlei Bra competition? Describes factory. Sexual innuendo common. Xmas dance and trips. Next – Triang Toys sewing heavy duty upholstery (stayed 1 year). Some toy-making. Having fun with the factory boys in Cyfarthfa Park on Fridays afternoons. Some men brought in pornographic photographs – eye opener. Went to Thorn’s making filaments for light bulbs. Describes process. Japanese took over, it became stressful so she stayed less than a year. Moved to make industrial clothing for NATO – heavy duty sewing, more humanity here. In the TSB they made filing cabinets and she connected with the other workers. She was in the office now. In Sobell’s for a few weeks only - very large, industrial and alienating.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file