Ref NoWIN/014
CollectionWinstanley Oral History Collection
TitleMrs. Jane. G. Banks and Mrs. Helen. M. Watkinson interviewed by Michael Winstanley
Name of creatorWinstanley, Michael
Duration3 hr. 27 min. 09 sec.
Extent2 sound tape reels
3 audio file Waveform Audio
DescriptionMrs. Jane G. Banks, born 1893, and Mrs. Helen. M. Watkinson, born 1895, interviewed in Orpington, Bromley. Their father was a grocer and died in 1898, and they belonged to a family of 9. Banks was a pupil teacher, and Watkinson was a library assistant. Their maiden name was Wyborn.
Track 1 [1:32:55] [Session 1: first interview: 14th October 1974] [0:00:00] Introduction: interview of Mrs Jane Gertrude Banks [JB] and her sister Mrs Helen Maud Wilkinson [HW] at Mrs Banks’ home by Michael Winstanley of the University of Kent at Canterbury on 14th October 1974. [0:00:27] JB born 11th May 1893 and HW 15th October 1895 in Bromley. [0:00:50] Comments on maternal grandfather moving from Suffolk as farm labourer to Surrey as game keeper for better wages. [0:02:00] Description of paternal family, father apprenticed to Bentalls, grocers of Kingston, his brothers in professions. [0:02:55] Description of maternal family, Branton, of Hoo Green Suffolk. [0:04:03] Description of father’s work and life, surname Wyborn, grocer in Kingston, lost business due to competition from Nuttalls, moved to Bromley, died c 1898. [0:06:27] Detailed description of grocery shop work. Mention of legal control of loaf weight, ‘make-weight’ loaf system, stale bread and cakes sold by the pillowcase. Mention that greaseproof paper introduced c 1902. [0:11:19] Remark that bread not baked at home as ovens unsuitable. [0:12:05] Description of ‘cook shops’ for evening meals, ‘ham and beef’ shops for cooked meat. Mention of Mr Pantry’s shop in High Street Bromley. [0:13:48] Anecdote about opening of first fish and chip shop c 1903. [0:15:59] Remarks on children’s role shopping for meat and fish scraps. [0:18:14] Mention of Bromley chain stores, Penny Bazaar in Market Square, Woolworths later, all post World War I. [0:20:02] Description of meals, hot food at midday, Sunday roast, fruit rare, drinks tea or water, little milk. Mention of mother’s aversion to ‘foreign’ bananas and tomatoes. [0:25:51] Comments on tradesmen at door, baker, butcher delivering to wealthy, butchers’ trugs, scissor grinder, chair and rug menders, rag and bone man, hot potato man, ‘salt or hearthstone’. Remarks on roughness of traders, fear of gypsies. [0:34:10] Description of tinned food, rabbit from Australian rabbit glut, corned beef, tins a luxury. [0:35:44] Description of schooling; Lady Scott’s school at Park [Bromley], reading taught within family. Mention of penny magazine Woman’s life. [0:38:12] Description of Kent school system, selection at 11, new Kent County Council county schools, JB and HW attending new Bromley County School in Tweedy Road, later Bromley Girls’ Grammar School. [0:41:03] Description of ‘pupil-teacher’ system, JB pupil teacher at primary school. [0:44:46] Description of primary school classes, importance of handwriting, rote learning, ‘Swedish drill’. Mention of Miss Goodyear teaching cookery. [0:54:14] Comments on school inspections, school board officers, ‘hop the wag’ [playing truant], annual school grant dependant on meeting standards, health inspections for lice. [0:56:55] Remarks on diversity of pupils’ backgrounds, mixing at school but not outside, parents and teachers never meeting. Mention of Farwig Lane Bromley as poor area. [0:58:50] Description of school discipline. [1:01:49] Comments on family life, early death of father, brother Wilf in loco parentis. Description of activities, sewing, and playing card games ‘Old Maid’ and ‘Beat the neighbours out of doors’. Mention that children eager to join Band of Hope, temperance organisation, for Christmas party. [1:04:21] Description of Penny Gaff, travelling theatre, performing Maria of the Red Barn in Bromley. [1:05:57] Description of annual visit of ‘Lord’ George Sanger’s circus. [1:07:46] Mention of Sir Arthur Sullivan playing the piano at the opening of the Bromley Drill Hall 1871. [1:08:20] Description of cinema going, Jury’s Bioscope later Grand Cinema opening c1907, showing ‘What happened to Mary, ‘Perils of Pauline’, London Film Company distributing ‘Coming through the rye’. [1:11:24] Mention of Mr Gibbs ‘hot gospeller’ and his mission in a tent. [1:13:40] Description of street games, tops, skipping, hoops, ‘tip cat’. [1:15:04] Comments on organ grinders in Bromley, barrel organs in London but not Bromley. Mention of Jessie Matthews learning to dance around a barrel organ in Berwick Street [London]. [1:17:04] Comments on treats, rare due to poverty after father’s death, Sunday School trips to Herne Bay, Hastings, Margate, staying with aunt in East Molesey, lack of holidays. Anecdote about day trip to Greenwich Park. [1:22:20] Mention of ‘workmens’ train with cheap fares for commuters. [1:25:07] Positive comments on suffragettes, popular with school mistresses, older women, like JB and HW’s mother born 1856, less interested. Mention of Miss Walton, geography teacher, sacked after arrest on suffragette march. [1:28:10] Comments on lack of opportunities for women, work in libraries, domestic service, shops but teaching only profession. Anecdote about JB’s mother in law’s difficulties before the Married Women’s Property Act [1882]. Comments on women’s changed role due to World War I and suffragettes. Anecdote about friend’s sixfold wage increase moving from domestic service to Woolwich Arsenal.
Track 2 [1:35:34] [Session 2: second interview: 29th October 1974] [0:00:20] Description of family home; 9 children, eldest 3 boys boarded out, home for meals; scullery with washing copper, mangle; outside flushing toilet. [0:02:57] Description of mangles, excitement of first mangle in street late 1890s, later improved model worked by wheels. Comments on neighbourhood cooperation for mangling, sewing and help in childbirth. [0:06:24] Detailed description of location of childhood home, Palace Road Bromley. Mention of Mr Coles Child, Justice of the Peace living in the Bishop’s Palace. Mention of pubs in Palace Road, Royal Oak, White Lion, Anglesey Arms, Crown and Anchor. Description of local shops, smithy, coal yard. [0:12:12] Comments on community, cooperation, lack of envy, importance of cleanliness. [0:14:28] Comments on drunkenness, common, accepted, but contributing to poverty, use of pawnshops. Remarks on women not going into pubs. [0:17:00] Mention of Nottingham lace used for curtains, ‘Holland’ for blinds. [0:19:40] Anecdote about ‘tin kettling’, neighbours banging kettles and saucepans outside a house where adultery was taking place. [0:22:33] Description of travelling oil salesman selling paraffin, soap, matches at door. [0:23:30] Comments on disgrace of pregnancy outside marriage, parents turning daughters out. Comments on lack of sex education, ignorance. Anecdotes about courting. [0:30:51] Mention of JB and Albert Napier visiting Lewisham Hippodrome. [0:35:18] Comments on roughness of North Road, coalmen, dustmen, sluttish women. [0:37:31] Mention of ‘sparrow’s bath’ [strip wash]. [0:38:07] Comments on problems after father’s death; widows with children unpopular with landlords in case of rent defaults; frequent moves; appalling accommodation with rats, next to pubs, in rough areas like Scott Road. Detailed description of accommodation in Park Road. [0:43:28] Comments on brothers, eldest keen to marry to escape supporting family, youngest in loco parentis. Remark on mother working as charwoman. [0:46:23] Detailed description of accommodation and family life in rooms behind laundry in East Street. [0:49:26] Comments on youngest brother, apprenticed to painter/decorator, emigrated to New York c 1905. Anecdote about painting New York bank with marbling effect. [0:53:31] Remark about bad winter and high unemployment early 1900s. Mention of Lord Derby of Holwood Park providing employment digging gravel pits on Keston Common. [0:56:57] Description of JB and HW’s sister’s drapery apprenticeship with Medhursts of Bromley. [0:58:16] Comments on singing at home. Mention of songs Bill Bailey, Boer War songs Dolly Gray, Blue Bell, Minuet, Sky lark. Mention of books of opera hits. Remarks on sisters’ favourite hymns. [1:01:35] Comments on smoking, HW smoking wallpaper offcuts. Mention of Woodbines. Smoking frowned on for women but made more respectable by ‘foreign’ countesses in society during World War I. [1:04:06] Comments on charity, mother rejecting poor relief as demeaning. Mention of Christmas charity, coal from Bowater family, joint of beef from Thomas Pink, both of Bromley. Description of Band of Hope Christmas party, magic lantern show. Mention of oranges as great Christmas treat. [1:08:29] Description of contents of Christmas stockings. [1:11:04] Comments on cooperative movement in Bromley, started c 1900, Women’s and Children’s guilds, weekly dances, children’s plays from penny pink books, weekly Wheatsheaf paper. [1:15:08] Comments on reading and books in house. Mention of News of the World newspaper. [1:18:22] Story about JB and HW’s eldest brother’s schooling at Emmanuel School Clapham, his cleverness and bitterness on being forced to leave on death of aunt. [1:20:35] Comments on lack of opportunities, aspirations and social movement for the working class. Remarks that only domestic service, shop and hospital work available to women. [1:24:11] Comments on insuring all children against disgrace of pauper’s funeral. [1:25:09] Comments on drink exacerbating poverty, effects on children. Remarks on temperance societies, signing up children, popularity of their meetings as something to do. Mention of HW attending Girls Friendly Society run by Methodists, hearing stories such as Christy’s old organ, Freckles, Old Violin. Mention of the Gem, the Magnet, Sexton Blake. [1:31:07] Description of Monday women’s church meetings, relaxing after wash day, stories read in instalments, class distinction between ‘ladies’ and ‘women’. [1:32:28] Mention of higher class streets further out of town, Upper Park Road, Orchard Road, Sundridge Avenue. [1:34:11] Mention of Sir Frank and son Charles Alexander working in the City.
Track 3 [0:18:40] [continuation of second interview: 29th October 1974] [0:00:08] Comments on new ‘villas’ c 1900, no bath, outside toilet, rented, for better off working class. [0:01:50] Comments on class distinctions; gradations amongst the poor through jobs and income, upper classes ostracising any trades or working men, white collar workers lower middle class, not mixing with workmen. [0:07:45] Remarks that teachers poor but respected.
PhysicalDescription2 sound tape reels : analogue, 5 inch reel, 9,5 cm/sec, 2 track, mono
Waveform Audio
Related OrganisationUniversity of Kent
Related PlaceBromley, Kent
Access filenameWIN-014-001A-A.mp3
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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