Oral History: Cooperative Voices – Ethel Schofield

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CWS Voices 2015

Interview notes Ethel Schofield (Wort) CWS Pelaw Printing 1962- 1969

Interviewer kath Connolly Pelaw Library 22.01.14

Location of interview recording: Tyne and Wear Archives

Ethel was born in Bill Quay 21.9.1947, she had 5 brothers and one sister. The family moved to King Street, Pelaw and still lives there .She left Bill Quay School at 15 and went to work at CWS Printing January 2nd 1962. She had called in one night on her way home from school to ask about work, had been interviewed and had been offered a job in the book binding department.

The works were only 5 minutes from home so she walked to work and rather than having her dinner in the CWS Dining Room would often go home to eat at lunchtime. In those days when the factories emptied for dinner, Pelaw Main Street was like Northumberland Street on a Saturday afternoon- chock-a-block.

Ethel remembers it was a nice friendly atmosphere and she knew many of the local people who worked there. “I loved it”, the bosses were fair.

She thought most of their printing came from Co-op businesses. Her first job was assembling and stapling the pages onto calendars. They printed the Co-op in-house magazines. Work was brought to them at their place on the table in their department on the first floor. The printing was done on the ground floor. There was a nice friendly atmosphere-

Ethel was trained for her job by Renee Bellison, the Supervisor- an older woman. Ethel didn’t think Renee had ever married. She was paid £3.4.3d for a 40 hour week, 8-5 weekdays, only working Saturday if there were jobs to be completed- this was voluntary overtime. She got 10/- pocket money and liked to go dancing in the Majestic (Newcastle).

Both men and women worked in the Printing although the skilled work of printers and book binders – that which required apprenticeships was done by the men. There were no opportunities for women to follow apprenticeships as printers. This was accepted- just the way it was in those days.

Ethel recalled a trip to Manchester to celebrate the CWS anniversary (100years). Those who wanted to take part, were provided with free coach travel to the celebrations in Manchester. They were all given a three tier cake stand as memento of the anniversary. They could spend the rest of the day in the city centre before they travelled home.

She remembers the Printer’s Ball held in the Mayfair Ballroom. While it was organised by the CWS it was not restricted to CWS workers.

When Ethel married in 1969 she had to leave- here again that was the way it was so women accepted it.