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Ivy Murray’s Story

This recording was made with Ivy in 1999. In it Ivy recalls her childhood in Hunslet, an industrial area of Leeds. Her father worked at the nail manufacturing plant and she and her mother worked in the clothing factory. Hunslet and Hunslet Carr are areas of south Leeds. Ivy was born in Leeds in 1921.

Click here to listen to the audio clip: 

Ivy's account is a historical primary source.

Ivy's memories are a starting point from which to list the different types of employment in the city in the 1930s as she mentions the textile and tailoring industries, the steel industry and light engineering.

Ivy Murray audio file transcript:

Speaker 2, “And where were you born Ivy?”

Ivy Murray, “I were born in Hunslet. Askham Grove in Hunslet.”

Speaker 2, “Right. Askham Grove.”

Ivy Murray, “Near St. Mary's Church. Hunslet. Number 12 Askham Grove I were born in.”

Speaker 2, “Tell me what? What are your memories of that road?”

Ivy Murray, “It was lovely.”

Speaker 2, “What was nice about it? What? What was?”

Ivy Murray, “I don't know. We were, you know, everybody was so friendly and we don't, load of friends and we used to play all sorts of games, you know in in the in’t road. There wasn’t a lot of traffic then so we could play in’t road. Hop-scotch, skipping, all kinds, Kick Out Ball, Beddy, all the lot, you know. And it were lovely.”

Speaker 2, “What did your dad do?”

Ivy Murray, “He worked at nail mill. It were just at the bottom of the road, where Morrisons is now. There was a nail mill and he worked there 35 years.”

Speaker 2, “And what what was that making nails was it?”

Ivy Murray, “Yes, they made nails. And and on a night when they used to be what he called turning the rolls the the the racket from them. You could hear them bashing, banging about, you know, but with that used to it, we didn't hear it.”

Speaker 2, “What was what was it? And what was that? What were they? Doing they were.”

Ivy Murray, “They were putting sheets of metal into furnace. Making sheets, sheets of iron used to come out and then the of course when it cooled, they used to put it on machines and cut it all up for, you know, and make nails and different things, I suppose, besides nails.”

Speaker 2, “A shift worker, and that noise was when they were taking it out of the furnace.”

Ivy Murray, “Ay yes, when they were banging. Y’know, yeah.”

Speaker 2, “So was it shift work then? Did you do shift work?”

Ivy Murray, “Shift work or ay, yes, yes, He worked nights. Different times, you know. He’d say ‘I'm on nights tonight’, you know, and things like that. He worked there 35 years.”

Speaker 2, “So was that a big employer in Hunslet that?”

Ivy Murray, “No, it wan’t a right big firm. I wouldn't say it was a right big firm, you know, but big enough.”

Speaker 2, “Where else did people work then? Your neighbours? Where did they work, were they working?”

Ivy Murray, “Well there was the chemic, chemical works. Well, that was where. Chemical works were down bottom of Anchor St. That were bottom of Hunslet Carr, where Tates’ garage is. Was Tates’ garage was there now. Well, that were chemical works and when they were, when they were doing something in works, we used to get sul.. we could taste the sulphur all over Hunslet. It used to be doing it, but we were that used to it, it didn't bother us. You know, we’d say ‘Ah, they’re doin’, letting sulphur out’, you know, things like that. They used to say it were healthy, but I don't think it was. And then further up there were steel works. We had them all in Hunslet, all these factories, you know.”

Speaker 2, “Were they, were they big factories or were they just small family..”

Ivy Murray, “Oh, steelworks were massive, Hunslet steelworks, it were a massive place. And they used to lay out, you know, certain nights. But of course, they've all gone. They've pulled them all down now, everything's gone.”

Speaker 2, “So did most people who lived in Hunslet work in Hunslet then? Was it, was there a lot of employment?”

Ivy Murray, “There was a lot of employment. because they were all engine, engine. All er, what is it? Factories. Engineering. They were all engineering more or less, and tailoring. There was a lot of tailoring. I worked at tailoring. Lot of tailoring factories, loads of them.”

Speaker 2, “Describe those to me. What were they like?”
Ivy Murray, “Well, I don't know there were… They used…I don't know. I don't know how to explain it.”

Speaker 2, “Small, small family run places?”

Ivy Murray, “Some, some of them, some of them were small family run and others were were biggish ones, you know?”

Speaker 2, “And what kind of tailoring?”

Ivy Murray, “We used to make suits, men's, men's trousers and coats, jackets and then then they used to be odd ones that did dress-making. You know, but er, I loved it. I loved sewing.”

Speaker 2, “Yeah, so did, did you train in that then?”

Ivy Murray, “Ay yes, when you when you went, when you went they’d teach you, they’d set you off as a run about. And then you’d go on a machine and they’d teach you what you were doing. And then as years went by, of course, you kept, I were in and out. If I got fed up with one job, I'd move on to another.”

Speaker 2, “Would you? It was like that. It was easy to get job was it?”

Ivy Murray, “Oh yes, you could walk out of one job straight into another without any without any hassle. There were loads of work, loads.”

Speaker 2, “So what's been your favourite job then?”

Ivy Murray, “I don't know. Sewing, that's all I can think of. I loved it.”

Speaker 2, “Did you? How far did you?”

Ivy Murray, “I enjoyed it.”

Speaker 2, “How far did you get in tailoring then? What did you get to?”

Ivy Murray, “I was only a.. I used to make trousers at first then I went on divisional work. You know, we used to go on divisional work sometimes. Well, instead of making the garment through, we used to do parts and pass it on. You know what I mean? Things like that. I did all sorts.”

Speaker 2, “What did your mother do, did she work?”

Ivy Murray, “Yes, she was in tailoring, she was a trousers maker me mother. She worked over. She worked in Hunslet Carr. It's pulled down now. Ipsey, she was a trouser... But years ago. She worked in in Leeds at Gloucester Clothing Company. But as years went by of course she went to work in Hunslet Carr at Ipsey’s.”

Speaker 2, “So was it, was it an expectant thing then that if your mother worked in a a clothing factory, then the daughter would follow her?”

Ivy Murray, “Well, we automatically did actually, when you left school, they didn't say ‘What are you going to do? What do you want to do when you leave school?’, you were automatically put, put in sewing because.. They knew you’d get a wage. You know, you didn't get a lot, but you you went in, you got your job. You know you got your wage, a little bit of wage and you automatically went in. You never questioned it or out like that you just knew you were going.”

Speaker 2, “What kind of people were your parents?”

Ivy Murray, “Ah, they were alright my Mum and Dad. Yeh, smashing.”