Barking and District Historical Society

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Tom White Interviews


Some Interviews
Tom White

Tom White recently interviewed some local people. He has very kindly provided us with some fascinating transcriptions of his conversations. The notes are self explanatory.

Joyce Rohbassen (nee Clarke)

Joyce was born in James Street, Barking near the Tabernacle. Her first memories were of a fire at the end of James Street. Joyceís mother died when she was 4 months old. Her father was a volunteer in the First World War. She remembers her first trip to the seaside at Shoeburyness when she was four years old. Her dad remarried, but Joyce did not get on with her stepmother so at the age of six she went to live with her grandmother.

When Joyce first went to work making wirelesses she earned 11/9d (59p) for a 48 hour week. She did her courting in Longbridge Road by the park and shops.

Joyce Clark married a Swiss in 1939. She only saw her husband for about six months during their first two years of married life. She remembers eating spam, spam and more spam, but she also went to the British Restaurant. For entertainment they played cards and listened to the radio. They were married for 41 years. Joyce worked as a nurse for 34 years. They did not go to church as they worked 7 days a week. She remembers that they got their first television in 1960. Their daughters watched this. Her husband worked in various jobs, including Victor Blagdenís on the A13 for many years. He died in 1990.

Joyce believes that the best time of life is now.

Chris Goldsmith
Chris was born in 1929 and lived in Islington. She later moved to Muswell Hill. Her first trip to the seaside was to Southend and Devon when she was aged 3 or 4. During the war she went to Ramsey in Huntingdon and then Great Granston. In the war the family ate at home as the government paid 6/6d [33p].

Her father was a welder and rejected by the army. After the war her father taught welding. Her mother made grey coats for the war effort and also worked as a waitress. When the war started Chris was staying in Dawlish, Devon with an aunt. Family expectations were for Chris and her sister to get good jobs. The family had their first television in 1957 and listened to the radio a great deal.

Chris met her husband, who was a carpenter, in Jersey. They courted and married in 1959 moving to Chadwell Heath where they had 4 children that still live close by. Chris and her husband returned to the mainland as they believed it was a better place to live and bring up children. They did not go dancing because her husband did not dance. Chris misses her husband, his comradeship and going to the theatre with him. She went to church when she was young.

Daisy Bishop
Daisy was born Daisy Sinfild in Wood Street, Walthamstow in February 1934. Her father volunteered for the Army in 1938. When the War broke out Daisy and her mum were left on their own. Daisyís family had no expectations of her because of the War. Her mother worked in the shoe trade. When the factory was taken over for war work she went as a bread man. At first she pulled a hand cart but later had a horse called Peg. Peg got to know the round and where she could get food. It took a long time to complete the round, but when she got near the end of the round she got quicker and quicker. The horse was put down after it had bolted. They ate a lot of pie and mash because it was not on ration, but the meat was not always lamb. Sometimes it was whale meat.

Daisy spent a lot of time at the pictures seeing the film twice or more. She once went a boy called Reg Sillet, who lived down the road. Her mother got worried when Daisy did not come home after 6 hours. Her mother had Daisyís name put up on the screen and later got a wallop. She lived at home before she got married. They had a chicken named Harriet. One day a dog attacked the chicken in the back garden giving it a limp neck. Daisyís mother pulled the birdís neck and it recovered.

Daisy met her husband, at a blind date. They went out for two years, and often went dancing. Daisy was 19 or 20 when she married. Daisy did not listen to the radio and they did not have time to go to church.

Jean Wittred
Jeanís parents were born in Canning Town about 1903. She was born in Queen Maryís Hospital, Stratford in 1934. The house she lived in was bought by her grandfather in 1928 for £450. Her first memory is going to school, which was just around the corner from where she lived.

Her father made cash registers and her mother worked as a waitress and a general factory hand. During the War the family often listened to the radio, including Paul Temple and Itmar. Jean was evacuated to Hertfordshire at Bent Pelham. She was about 12 years old when she first went to Ramsgate. Jean also remembers a day school trip to the Tower of London. The family normally ate at home and had their first television in 1956. They did not go to the theatre. She went to church in the country, but does not go now.

Jean wanted to go into her fatherís trade, in the office, but went into the clothing trade making Marks & Spencerís shirts.

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