Diary of a Housemaid #9

dofhm august

August 1935

Every year Lord and Lady Bristol throw a party in the park for the women and children of the village. Long tables are laid out under the shade of the great trees, covered with a delicious assortment of cakes, sweets, and fruit. There is even fresh lemonade to drink. Of course we are too busy in the house to attend this event, but a few of us were allowed a brief excursion instead of sitting down to lunch. My family had been invited and as soon as they saw me my younger siblings ran over to give me a hug. This was the first time they have seen me in my uniform and I think that Mother looked quite proud. She didn’t say anything, but I could see it in her smile.

Soon it was time for me to return to the house, but not after I had eaten my fair share of the food. I also saved a slice of cake for Florence and some sugared almonds for Miss Stringer. They both seemed pleased with these. It was hard working with the noise of children’s laughter seeping in from outside. I just wanted to join in with the games. The window of the servants’ staircase in the west side of the house offers a beautiful view of the park, and here I sat for a while, watching the children having fun. How good Lord and Lady Bristol are to the people of the village. How lucky we are!

Rose Bailey

This Week in 1935: 25-31 August

THE DRIVE TOWARDS PROGRESS:

This week in 1935 an article appeared in The Times that discussed the gradual replacement of horse-drawn vehicles with motor-cars. It discussed with nostalgia the, ‘lost heritage of noble coach-horses’, and the, ‘rattle of bits, the creak of harness, the crack of whips, and the halloo of coachmen.’ It reported that, ‘in London and other cities horse haulage is apparently on the verge of suppression’, commenting that, ‘the police and fire brigades have scarcely any horse left in their stables.’

This week also witnessed the establishment of an official organisation for taxi drivers driving motor cars. Gone were the days of the horse-drawn Hackney-cab and the Professional Driver’s Association sought to bring together everyone who drove a motor car for money.

 

THE SWEET TOOTH OF THE NATION:

It was also reported in The Times this week in 1935 that the UK had the sweetest tooth world wide. Over £1,000,000 was spent on chocolate and confectionary every week and the UK was the world’s largest market for importing sugary supplies – especially canned fruits in syrup. In 1934 a record level of canned fruits were imported to the UK – 173,000 tons! The most popular fruit was pineapple from Malaya, closely followed by peaches and pears from Australia.

 

A RIGHT ROYAL ENGAGEMENT:

This week in 1935 the big news was the announcement that the Duke of Gloucester (third son of King George V and Queen Mary) had become engaged to Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott. Here are some photographs that appeared in The Times: (do you recognise some of the bridesmaids?)

Times1

Times 2

 

 

This Week in 1935: 18-24 August

18-24th August:

Carnival Season:

This week in 1935 saw the tenth annual Southend Carnival, raising money for the Southend General Hospital. As was tradition the carnival began with the roasting of an ox on the seafront. The first slice was sold by auction and raised five guineas. A children’s parade, themed ‘Children Throughout the Ages’, a baby show, and a street procession followed. This year also witnessed a new way of illuminating the seafront. Instead of using fairy lights for the occasion floodlights were placed under trees, fountains, arches, and other locations to light up the town.

Voyage in a Bathtub:

The Times printed an unusual story this week in 1935 detailing the adventures of a Swedish man in a bathtub. The man had jumped off a Swedish vessel off the coast of North Queensland, Australia, setting sail in a wooden-bottomed bathtub. He aimed to reach New Guinea, some 50 miles away, in search of gold. He got lost at sea for five days and was eventually recovered and taken to Australia. One word sums up this story in my mind – RANDOM!

Not Forgotten Association:

This association founded by a Miss Marta Cunningham sought to improve the lives of disabled ex-servicemen by providing them with treats. This week in 1935 the Association hosted the fifteenth annual Thames river trip. 130 ex-servicemen who fought in WW1 and were still recovering from their wounds in London hospitals were invited on the steamer, Grand Duchess, sailing from Kingston to Weymouth and back again. High tea was provided, along with ices and sweets, accompanied by ‘humorous piano’ music. An admirable gesture of thanks to those who survived and yet sacrificed their lives on the battlefields.

 

This Week in 1935: 11-17th August

The Not-So-Great Escape of 1935:

This week in 1935 a prisoner escaped from Pentonville Gaol in London. He had hacked at the brickwork surrounding the barred window of his cell with a steel-tipped stick and climbed through the hole. Since his cell was on the second floor he then made an ingenious contraption involving a plank of wood and a rope pulley-system to lower himself to the ground. From there he managed to cross the yard and climb the outer wall of the prison. He was captured just ten minutes later. Warders found him utterly exhausted from his daring escape, hiding behind a door in a nearby shop.

 

Woman Saved from Cow by Sheepdog:

Occasionally the stories found in The Times in 1935 are so random that the only way to give them justice is to quote them in full…

‘A sheepdog saved the life of Mrs. David Thomas, of Tyddyndu Farm, near Barmouth, on Saturday, when she was attacked and seriously injured by a cow. Mrs. Thomas was driving cattle to a field after milking when a cow suddenly attacked her, and after goring her several times held her trapped between a gate and a wall. She cried for help and her favourite sheepdog immediately ran from the farmhouse. By this time the woman was badly injured and helpless on the ground, and the cow again in the act of attacking. The sheepdog barked loudly, and managed by jumping in front of the cow to draw its attention. The woman’s husband then came to the scene and managed to drive the cow away. After medical attention Mrs. Thomas was taken to the Dolgelley and Barmouth Hospital, where her injuries were found to include a fractured arm and serious leg injuries.’

Hurrah to all the trusty sheepdogs out there!

 

The Mechanical Informer:

This week in 1935 a new machine was installed at the Charing Cross Post Office that sought to provide customers with push-button information. Post Office clerks were frequently bogged-down by the inquiries of their customers and it was hoped that this machine would free-up some of their time. Subjects regarding mail, telegrams, express services, and the regulations of stamps were allocated a number. An inquirer would then press the button printed with the number of the question they wanted answered and a card appeared in a lighted aperture. This card included information printed in the Post Office Guide. Installed as an experiment at Charing Cross it was hoped that similar self-service machines would appear in other Post Offices around the country.

 

This Week in 1935: 4-10th August

Hatching a Plan: Crime News

This week witnessed a not-so-great train robbery. The loot – registered letters taken from mail bags. It was estimated that £60 had been stolen from the three missing mail bags. Another hustle was debunked this week. The Times called it the Gold Bar Trick. Russian salesman, Morris Grossman, melted down copper, brass and silver into a bar. His accomplice, Percy Marcus, then had a gold bar assayed and melted the two bars together claiming £75 9s 11d. They were caught and received four month’s imprisonment with hard labour for their crime.

Egg-Laying Trials: Miscellaneous News

This week saw the annual county egg-laying trials but this year the rules had changed. Before 1935 the gold cup was offered to the highest-scoring four pens of any one breed but, ‘in view of the increasing mortality in laying trials it has been argued that this form of competition is undesirable.’ The cup was now awarded to the county with the lowest mortality percentage. How lovely!

Saving Mr. Charles Pickens:

A fourteen-year-old girl was commended this week for her bravery in attempting to save her father, Mr. Pickens, from drowning. The girl had been bathing in the sea with her parents and got caught in a current. She managed to pull her mother to safety and stayed with her father until she had nearly exhausted herself. A real Grace Darling of the 1930s.

 

Diary of a Housemaid #8

DofHM July

July 1935

This incredible heat has lasted for three weeks now. To begin with it was pleasant, the gradual warming-up of the corridors, but now the basement is like an oven. Work in the kitchens must be unbearable. One kitchen maid was sent to bed yesterday from heat exhaustion. Florence, Beatrice, Violet and I followed the odd man to the ice-store when he went on an errand for Cook. He dropped a few shards of ice when he was shovelling it into a bucket and we were quick to retrieve them. Jim knew exactly what we were doing, but he said nothing. For a brief moment, with that ice in our hands, we felt cool and refreshed.

The village school has shut because of the heat and last week my sister Iris, and one of my younger brothers, Thomas, walked from Chevington to see me. They were both red in the face from the sun by the time they arrived at the gates. I was so worried about them that I dragged them down the servant’s stairs and brought them to Mrs. Seddon’s room. We are not meant to bring our visitors into the house, but the kindly lady took pity and allowed Iris and Thomas to sit at her table. She even allowed me to stay since it was my half-day. This was meant as a gesture of kindness, I am sure, but I just felt uneasy being in that room as a guest. In the end Father had to pick them up with his cart. They received such a telling-off that I don’t suppose they will visit again, at least until the weather cools.

Rose Bailey

 

This Week in 1935: 29 July – 3 August

28 July – 3 August:

This week welcomed a bank holiday. Special travel arrangements were made to meet public demand. Many additional express trains were provided to bring the coast and countryside within easy reach of pleasure-seekers. According to The Times the Great Western Company expected to carry 3,000,000 passengers between the 2nd to the 8th of August. Ah, the ‘good old days’, when trains provided a service for their passengers.

Quick action this week preserved perhaps one of our country’s most beautiful features. The government urged for the protection of thatch houses as it was becoming popular practice to replace thatch with iron sheeting which was cheaper and easier to maintain.