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Irene Everitt
Irene Everitt

I was born in 1932, one of seven children.  We lived in Ettingshall where the conditions were not very good.  There was the constant smell of the gasworks and the sky was lit up at night by the steel works.  Life was a bit rough.  At the back of our house was a block of four toilets which were used by us and by our neighbours.  In the winter time icicles formed on their eaves - and we kids used to break them off and suck on them.  I remember one time when some local people came to the front door and offered my mother some bundles of firewood.  She thought she recognised the wood they were made out of.  Sure enough, when she went out the back, her clothes prop was missing.  In 1939 we moved to Bilston where conditions were better.  I went to St. Chad's school. I left school at 14 and started work in a dress shop at 10s.6d. per week.  The work was all right but the pay was not, so, in 1947 when I was 16, I started work at Parkes lock factory, where the pay was £2 per week. Among the many locks they made were car locks.  (Lowes and Fletcher, of Lower Lichfield Street, was another lock making firm which made car locks).  I worked on assembling car locks, most of which were sent to Wilmott Breedon.  I married in 1956 but carried on working as we needed the money!  I stayed at Parkes for 16 years in all. We worked from 8 to 5.30 on Mondays and Fridays, 8 to 6 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 8 to 12 on Saturdays - but we sometimes had to come in at 7 am if there was a lot of work on.  There was also an evening shift who came in from 5 pm to 9 pm.

The brothers who owned the factory were Cyril and Arthur Parkes.  They would come round the factory and talk to all of us and were very nice gentlemen.  There was a very nice canteen and a sports club where I played netball.  There was also a yearly works dance, which was held at Willenhall Baths - during the winter the pool was boarded over to make a dance floor.

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