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by Gloria Wallis of Bozeat, c2007
My Memories of John White's Shoe Factory

My Father had worked on the land for many years, then one day he came home from work and announced that he had just secured a new job at John White's Shoe Factory in Rushden, in the Clicking room at the Newton Road Factory. That would mean that we would have a better standard of living. In those day John White had his own fleet of coaches to transport his employers to work. The coach would begin at Bozeat and some would also come from Olney to travel on that coach; it would then make pick ups at Wollaston Irchester and Tennnyson Road in Rushen. Other coaches came from Corby. One day my father come home and said that John White was taking his employees to London for the day, so he and my mother went. The train had a big boot on the engine, and left the station at Little Irchester. On the way everyone was given a packed lunch for the journey, and they also had a ticket to get a tea, and Mum and Dad went to Lyon's Corner House, and they went to a Theatre in Drury Lane to see "South Pacfic". They never forgot it, and they brought us all a present, which was lovely. When I was old enough to leave school my father also got a job for me, and John White himself had a special afternoon to meet everyone who was starting work that year. In 1957 after the August holidays; and we all met John White and enjoyed tea and cakes with him. I began work in the training school opposite the Lightstrung, where the lady in charge was Edna Underwood; a very nice lady to us all. Everyday I travelled on the John White coach, and there were many village characters and we had a lot of fun. And a lady from Bozeat named Mrs Doll Rice nee Pettitt was in Charge of the Lime Street Closing room. After some time I was transferred to work in the Closing Room at Newton Road where the Forelady was Hannah Hindmarch. It was a very big room and I made a lot of friends there and still remember some of them now. The job I did was seaming the linings and then rubbing them down, and I wanted to learn to do more jobs, but I was told I could not learn any more, which I was not happy about and so I left and got a job in Bozeat, which in a way was a bit of a come down. We thought we had a job for life. As people would always need shoes. At one point one of the workers at Rushden said that the day would come when "a piece of leather would be put into a machine and a ready made shoe come out the other end" that's automation, but we haven't got there yet. I always remember, with affection, my days spent at John White's in Rushden.

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