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'Out work'

Eric Gibson

master brummie
My mother had several different out work jobs when we were kids, anything to earn a few bob whilst she was at home looking after us.

One job was putting the curls on the end of badge or tie pins, 3d a thousand.

They gave her a little tool which meant picking up a pin, putting it in a slot, turning a lever one and a half times then taking out the finished pin.

After a while dad looked at it and decided it could be done quicker, knocked up a geared tool that just required the pin to be inserted the lever pulled forward an inch then pushed back and out popped the pin.

The works wanted to know how she was managing to do so many in such a short time and, foolishly, she showed the tool to them...…….the job quickly disappeared, taken in house, doubtless they'd copied dad's idea.

Another job she had was 'smocking' embroidering the fronts of little girls dresses.

Another was sewing buttons on display cards for a button company

Another was sewing sequins on stage costumes for Emile Littler's artistes at one of the town centre theatres.

Probably more but I need to think. :)
 

A Sparks

master brummie
My mother worked in the office at H Samuel for a while in the 60's and we used to do out work addressing envelopes for their brochure to be sent out in - no computer generated label in those days!
I'm afraid I can't remember how much we were paid now.
 

Eric Gibson

master brummie
That reminded me Penns, another of mom's jobs was making shopping bags, they used to supply her with used hessian sugar sacks and she cut them to size sewed them up and made and sewed on handles.
 

Penns

master brummie
One of the best examples of outwork is probably the people that made Nails in the Harborne area

From the Bham Council History Site

The chief agricultural productions are corn and potatoes, with market gardening carried on to a considerable extent, particularly for strawberries. There is a blacking manufactory and a steel mill. The labouring population are chiefly nailers, working in their own cottages.

Nailmakers are first recorded in Harborne in a legal document of 1600, but it had been an established occupation in these parts for many years before. Often it would be an alternative employment to agricultural labouring when the weather prevented working on the land. The whole family might be involved, helping at the small forge built to the side or rear of the cottage. Iron was supplied by the nail masters, a few of whom were among the wealthier residents of Harborne. A finished load of nails might have to be carried into Birmingham to be exchanged for the raw material to fashion the next load.

Harborne also had a reputation for laundresses. Perhaps the proximity of wealthier Edgbaston guaranteed a demand for such work. The Census of 1851 provides plenty of evidence of both nailmakers and laundresses, and of the young age at which schooling might be abandoned to take a place at the forge. However, by this time, nailmaking on this small scale was in a decline, and would soon have disappeared completely.
 

Dave89

master brummie
Hi,

One of the strangest outwork jobs I ever came across was one provided
by Southalls at Alum Rock.
When their production line had problems which resulted in the 'products'
being distorted or damaged, the spoilt goods were collected and distributed
in black bin bags to outworkers whose job was to remove the cellophane
wrappers, tease out the cotton and remove the strings. The cotton was then
'fluffed up' and repacked in the black bags.
The rep would then collect the recovered cotton wool, pay per bag, and deliver
fresh supplies. Apparently the value of the cotton wool was such that it made
all this worthwhile.

I bet if this job had been featured on 'Whats my line' they would have had a
hard time guessing it!

Kind regards
Dave
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
One of the best examples of outwork is probably the people that made Nails in the Harborne area

From the Bham Council History Site

The chief agricultural productions are corn and potatoes, with market gardening carried on to a considerable extent, particularly for strawberries. There is a blacking manufactory and a steel mill. The labouring population are chiefly nailers, working in their own cottages.

Nailmakers are first recorded in Harborne in a legal document of 1600, but it had been an established occupation in these parts for many years before. Often it would be an alternative employment to agricultural labouring when the weather prevented working on the land. The whole family might be involved, helping at the small forge built to the side or rear of the cottage. Iron was supplied by the nail masters, a few of whom were among the wealthier residents of Harborne. A finished load of nails might have to be carried into Birmingham to be exchanged for the raw material to fashion the next load.

Harborne also had a reputation for laundresses. Perhaps the proximity of wealthier Edgbaston guaranteed a demand for such work. The Census of 1851 provides plenty of evidence of both nailmakers and laundresses, and of the young age at which schooling might be abandoned to take a place at the forge. However, by this time, nailmaking on this small scale was in a decline, and would soon have disappeared completely.
See the locked thread Fish Lane, Harbourne...
 

Penns

master brummie
That's interesting, I only associated nail making with the Black Country.
One of the most fascination aspects of Birmingham Indistrial History is that you never seem to know what will come up next, Birmingham author Ray Shill told me that he had found over 1500 trades in Birmingham!
 
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