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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.
 

Penns

knowlegable brummie
My girl friends mother made carrier bags at home in Kings Heath with a sheet metal template it was amazing to see her doing them, they were used in the Bull Ring Market
 

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

knowlegable 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 Barmmie
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

knowlegable 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!
 

John Ben

proper brummie kid
I only recently found out that my Great Grandmother was a nail maker from the Dudley area. I have her at 13 as a nail maker along with her 18, 16 and 10 year old sisters. She was born in 1839 and died in 1919. The family are shown as living at Old Mill Dudley. Her husband was a coal miner as was their son. My Grandfather. I am fortunate enough to have a photo of Great Grandma and Great Grandad. It must have been take towards the end of her life, as she looks very frail. I am proud to have ancestors from the Dudley area, although I do not come from that town. My grandad left Dudley to work in the Nottinghamshire Pits. Great Grandmas maiden name was Jones. Emma Winifred. Great Grandad was Thomas Houlston. I know they lived in St James Terrace Dudley. I assume until they passed away. I know there are Houlstons living in the Dudley area but have no contact with anyone there. My Grandad Samuel Houlston was a Clog Dancer and operated a Clog Dancing Doll with Brass clogs. I donated it to the Black Country Museum over a year ago. I still have his Davy Lamp. I never knew him. He died before I was born.
 

John Ben

proper brummie kid
My 3x great grandmother was a nailer from Dudley too, and her husband was an ironstone miner. It must have been a hard life.
rosie.
Hello Rosie. My Great Grandmother's father was an ironstone miner In the 1851 Census Thomas Jones was shown as married to Sarah ( Oops Madely is where she was born in Salop.) Both shown as aged 46. Four daughters all working as nail makers. Two younger ones. Girl 7 and a boy 4. No doubt the 7 year old would follow her sisters in to nail making. It beats me how they survived. Great Grandma died in 1919 at aged 80. Thomas died in 1921 aged 86 Amazing when you think of the awful lives they lead. This is them outside their door.
 

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John Ben

proper brummie kid
OK here is a question I have been trying to get the answer to for years. My Grandad was as I have said, a Dudley coal miner who moved to Nottinghamshire He like lots of miners wore straps around his work trousers just below the knee. My mother said these were called Dudley Yorks. She said if her brothers misbehaved he would threaten them to have their backsides tanned with his Dudley Yorks. I have so far failed to find anyone who has even heard the term. let alone know where it originated from. So if anyone has any information I would be pleased to hear it.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
Hello Rosie. My Great Grandmother's father was an ironstone miner In the 1851 Census Thomas Jones was shown as married to Sarah ( Oops Madely is where she was born in Salop.) Both shown as aged 46. Four daughters all working as nail makers. Two younger ones. Girl 7 and a boy 4. No doubt the 7 year old would follow her sisters in to nail making. It beats me how they survived. Great Grandma died in 1919 at aged 80. Thomas died in 1921 aged 86 Amazing when you think of the awful lives they lead. This is them outside their door.

fantastic photo sorry for the pun but back in the day folk were hard as nails...they had to be

lyn
 

John Ben

proper brummie kid
He died in 1921. She died in 1919. aged 86 and 80. So I am guessing that photo was taken maybe around the early 1900's
 

John Ben

proper brummie kid
The saga continues. I have now worked out where Old Mill was in 1851.

At the end of St James Terrace was the site of an Old Windmill. It was also the site of an Ironstone quarry called Millfield. My Great Great Grandfather Thomas Jones was an Ironstone Miner. My guess is they lived in a tied house owned and on the property of the mine. Hence the name Old Mill.

The interesting this is. My Great grandfather Thomas Houlston who married Emma Jones lived in St James Terrace. I cant ever prove that but its too coincidental to ignore. The Houlstons lived in St James terrace for many years.

Thomas Houlston was also a miner. But a coal miner. His wife Emma was illiterate as she signed my Grandads birth certificate with a X Mind having spent all her childhood as a nail maker, she would not have been educated.

I am really please that I have got this far with digging out a bit of my past. Having read a lot about Dudley, Mining and Nail Making in the 1880's I can only find admiration for how those people survived the most appalling living conditions.

Looking of and old 1881 map of Dudley. St James Terrace as it was then is now a private driveway with gates. The present St James Terrace was called Peel St back then. I would love to have visited the road where they lived, But is not an option. The whole area was redeveloped over the years and none of it remains. The ironstone quarry is now covered in houses. The Old Windmill just a name on an old map.
 

John Ben

proper brummie kid
Just found a photo of the old windmill. I was demolished in the 1930's. The buildings just visible look like they have been occupied. It was known as Shavers End Mill. I found a reference to it on a railway modelers site. Someone called Dave said his Dad was bought up in it along with 8 others. I have no way of contacting him.
 

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