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Starting work at Fourteen

Don Clive

Adopted 'Tammie'
There must be a number of members who started their working life at Fourteen, I did, I left school, St Mary's Aston Brook at Easter, at that time, you finished your schooldays at elementary school at the start of the next school holidays after you were Fourteen, Girls and Boys. This was 1946, there were plenty of jobs available for youngsters, incidentally, we were referred to as adolescent's then, that terrible American term 'Teenager' hadn't arrived here yet. My mother found me my first job, starting on the Monday after I left school on the Friday, it was at 'Berresfords Electric Store' in Dale End, after the usual preliminaries I was sent to their shop on Spring Hill, a very small establishment, the only other employee there reffered to himself as 'The Manager' and told me the things I had to do besides serve in the shop, "you'll answer the telephone" he said, he had a bad stutter, I'd never used a phone before, "and your job will be to connect up the accumulators for charging" that was better, we had a wireless at home that used accumulators, but he failed to tell me it was 'Negative' to 'Positive' and a couple of days later, when he went out for his Liquid lunch I decided to connect up that mornings intake of accumulators.... after the explosion, when I had switched the power on, I was sacked! The advert in the Evening Despatch said 'Strong Boy wanted for gun making' on the following Monday I started work in Weaman Street, no not at Webley & Scotts, one of the best known Gunsmiths in Brum, but right opposite, a firm that produced parts for the Gun Trade in a number of 'joined up' houses, I worked there for about a month, on a press, I still don't know what I was producing and it was so boring. My next job was with a 'one man builder' he lived in a back house in Aston, in Newtown Row end of Phillips Street, I knocked on his door as instructed at 8 am, "Right the first thing is to get the 'barrer' ready, this was his two wheeled cart that he carried his tools and building materials on, it was too wide to be pushed down the entry so had to be taken apart and carried down then re-assembled in the street, next came ladders a plank, shovels, sand and cement oh everything a builder would need, eventually we were finished, "Right," he said "Do you know where Farm Street, Hockley is?" I said I did, "Off you go then, Ill see You there".....He caught the Number 8 bus, I had to push that loaded cart up hill,then down again to Hockley, do a days work when he eventually got there, then push it all the way back late afternoon, carry everything back up the entry, dismantle the cart, and he still owes me for it, I never went back again! Job No 4 was much better, I got to wear 'My Sunday Suit', I answered an ad; for a 'Lift Boy' at Woodhouses The Furniture store, next door to the Forum cinema in New Street, they took me on, but since I was nearly six foot tall and the official uniform (including a small round hat and a tunic with buttons all down the front) was only suitable for someone about four foot six, they decided I would be more suitable in the office in Anne's Road, Handsworth, I did quite well there, it must have been about eighteen months later, the other three office men, including the Warehouse manager had gone for their 'Liquid Lunch' and I was alone with my sandwiches in the office when the door opened and a small man, wearing a 'homburg' and a coat with a fur collar stood in the doorway and said "Whooo's in sharge here"... 'The managers out, and were not taking anyone new on at the moment' I'd given him the stock answer I'd been told to give, he came right into the office, "Do you know who I am?" he asked "I'm Issac Wolfson, I own this......Business". My fifth job was at the Hecules Cycle Factory, Rocky Lane Aston Cross, I'd answered the advert for 'Packing Case Makers' saw the foreman, got the job, 'be here sharpe at eight on Monday' he said, I was, but another lad was standing by the clock when I got there, the foreman arrived with a broom stale in one hand and a homehade spoon in the other, "who was here first" he said, the other lad said he was, "Right, you have the spoon" and he gave me the broom stale, he took us to the department where men were busy making crate's and packing cases, he said "you see those Billy cans, when the men want a tea break you load the cans onto the broom stale, the tea leaves will allready be in, both of you go back to where I've just brought you from and you'll see the hot water urn, fill each can, and you stir them up". Thus I became 'A tea stirrers mate', the 'Tea stirrer' lasted a week then left, I took over the spoon and became 'The Stirrer' but finished the following Friday and I must now confess that I forgot to hand over the home made spoon, and still have it to this day! A few days later I started working at a hardware shop in Erdington and stayed there, happily until 1960. Don Clive
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
well done don i knew you could do it....what a wonderful 1st thread you have created i enjoyed reading every word....i do hope other members will join in now...keep on posting as you have so much to offer the forum...

lyn
 

Bernard67Arnold

master brummie
Hi Don, I also left skool at 14 at Easter 1944, it reminded me of a joke my neighbour told me a few weeks ago, a youth went into a shop and asked for a potato clock, the man in the shop said "Never heard of them! we have all sorts of clocks but not potato ones, "Who sent you for it?".he said, Me Mom, I start work on Monday and she
said I have got to get a potato clock, Bernard
 
E

Elizabeth Redmond

Guest
Hi Don, I also left skool at 14 at Easter 1944, it reminded me of a joke my neighbour told me a few weeks ago, a youth went into a shop and asked for a potato clock, the man in the shop said "Never heard of them! we have all sorts of clocks but not potato ones, "Who sent you for it?".he said, Me Mom, I start work on Monday and she
said I have got to get a potato clock, Bernard
Nice one Bernard
 

G G Jean

Brummy Wench.
Bernard that is a new one on us but thanks it has given me room for thought. I was sixteen when I started and Pete said he was fourteen and couldn't wait to leave school. Jean.
 

Pembroke

master brummie
Was at Peckham Road school when the leaving age went up from fourteen to fifteen.The teacher of the class I was in reckoned the only difference it would make is that the writing on the toilet walls would be a bit higher.
 

Bernard67Arnold

master brummie
Bernard that is a new one on us but thanks it has given me room for thought. I was sixteen when I started and Pete said he was fourteen and couldn't wait to leave school. Jean.
Hi Jean, you have to read that joke outloud to get it? Brian said one or two didnt get it right away, but Liz did,
Bernie
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
Like Don I also left school at 14 (during the war in 1944), after a stint at GEC Witton I also went to Hercules Cycles as a packing case maker also like Don in 1946, but didn't get a spoon or broom handle but actually made packing cases after a brief training stint, a few months later i was "promoted" to a packer on piece work. After 18 months I left, I was bored out of my my mind, joined the RAF instead in 1948. Eric
 

lencops

gone but not forgotten
Left school 1943 age 14yrs, i started work at the Post Office Engineering Factory, Garrison Lane i have posted the info on my work there on another thread. Len.
 

Arkrite

master brummie
I did post a scan of mother in laws School Leaving Certificate somewhere. On it states that the holder has passed all exams and is deemed capable of work having attained the age of 14 years. Has any one a copy of a SLC out there.
 

Richard Shephard

master brummie
Hi Don i also started wok when i was fourteen. My first job was at Charles Wades in Pritchett St working as riviters mate
it was very hard work and very hot because of the heat from the mufflers where the rivits were heated red hot.
my wages was about 10/ bob.
Redards Richard.
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
AS I pointed out in my post 8 above, I also left school age 14 in July 1944, does any one know the year when the leaving age was raised to 15 ?? Eric
 

Alberta

Super Moderator
Staff member
You must have been one of the last to leave at 14 Eric as the Education Act 1944 raised the age to 15 and then in 1972 to 16,although I went to a Grammar
school from 1953-58 and we had to go until 16.
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
I left school at the end of 1956 aged 15.
I joined the army in 1957 and was surprised to be living with Jocks who left school aged 14.
Scotland must have had a different set of rules in those days.
Nothing new there then !
 

nickcc101

master brummie
Left School aged 14 in 1960, birthday is September so left in the June. Started as trainee mechanic week after I left so had to be paid out of the petty cash (1/6d per hour).
 

brenda barr

master brummie
l remember my brother leaving school (gower street) at 14 it was around 46-47...dad got him a job at Ellisons switch gear. at perry barr...l know he did'nt like it, l think being indoors was the problem...he wanted to join the navy but mom would'nt sighn for him, so when he was 18 he signed up to the RNAS did 21yrs and l know he enjoyed every day of it...after that he was a engineer for Xerox still not indoors as he was travelling around the midland area untill he retired....Brenda
 

brenda barr

master brummie
l left school at 14... the way my b'day fell l had to leave ... my b'day being the end of Dec and l started my job at J Wrights thimblemill lane Jan 1 1951, at that time nobody had new years day off also we had to work half day Saturdays too all 30 shillings a week...after giving mom a pound l had the rest for pocket money....Brenda
 

brummie nick

master brummie
I thought the law that you had to stay at school till you were 15 changed in 1948, I was born in 1933 and had to do the extra year.

Nick
 

davidfowler

Exiled Brummie
I'm going through my Uncle's paperwork (he recently died) and he kept some great records of life events. He left Ryland Road School in Erdington in 1942 aged 14. He went to work at B.E.F Ltd (Birlec) which was a few hundred yards away from where he lived in Bromford Lane. He was an apprentice Engineers Mate and made up platinum, gold and silver fuses for the furnaces.
Birlec.JPG
He stayed there for 4 years until he was called up for National Service where he was in the Army Catering Corps. He then worked for Lewis's as Catering Manager at 3 of their stores until retirement.
 
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