My mum has always been good with a needle and thread and when she left school, her first jobs were in the textile industries.
Mum first worked for a company called Kayser Bonder in Biggleswade. The underwear made by the company, was known throughout the world during the 1950’s and 1960’s and Biggleswade was home to one of its factories for 53 years. The letter shown below was sent to my mum prior to her starting work at Kayser Bondor. She was fifteen years old at the time.
Mum also worked as a sewing machinist for Skirtex undertaking piece work (a type of work which pays a fixed rate for each unit produced or action performed regardless of time) and at Electrolux as an armature winder, both in Luton.
The photo below was taken at Skirtex. Mum is stood directly behind Father Christmas, to the right of a woman wearing glasses, who I know was called Connie, because I met her once. I love this photo, it reminds me of the film Made in Dagenham. Mum tells me the women had a radio and would sing while they worked and I can imagine them singing along loudly and giving hell to any man who walked across their factory floor.
Later, mum made clothes for my sister and I and also for my dolls – I still have a bag full of them, seemingly unable to throw them away, even though I am now much too old for such things.
Then, almost forty years after mum began work with Kayser Bondor, she took early retirement and began making quilts – turns out she is pretty amazing at it too and has won awards for her work. Mum’s quilts are displayed on her website below.