Eveline Shore, 2007

As told to Eveline Shore, his daughter. 2007


'I started work as an apprentice mould-maker at the Cauldon Pottery, Shelton on Newmarket Monday. This was either January 6th or January 8th 1906. We worked from seven o'clock in the morning until six o'clock at night, and from seven until one o'clock on Saturdays. I received six shillings as my first week's wages. Under the agreement I had signed, I was only paid half my wages for the the first five years, and for the last two years fourpence in every pound was taken to pay for my apprenticeship. An apprentice had to run errands, fetch tea, and do all kinds of odd jobs without any payment, even though he might only be paid on a piece-work rate.

There was no canteen in those days. A lady called Mrs Toft would boil water for us. She charged us tuppence a week. She put the tea and sugar in a jug. Although she felt it, as if to see how hot it was, it often wasn't boiling. Between nine and nine thirty in the morning we would have breakfast. We took bread and bacon for the journeymen to frizzle over the saggar-makers' fire. We balanced the bacon on a home-made toasting fork, placed it over the flames, and as the fat began to drip, we would put it on the bread. The bacon fell off into the ashes many times. We would just put it over the fire again, and let the ash run off.

I had to turn the whirler or jigger, to shake the mould for the head mould-maker. I did this without payment, sometimes for an hour or more at a time. I kept my eyes on what he was doing and my wits about me, which proved invaluable later. My journeyman was a man named Mr Rabey. He was about twelve years older than me. He was meticulous in his work. He believed everything should be balanced, strong and true. I was fortunate to have him as my instructor.

It was customary then for the apprentice to fetch beer or stout for some of the journeymen. I used to race to the 'Bell and Bear' to minimise the time it took from the working day.

There was a little shop above Cauldon Bridge. I think the name was 'Sargeant's'. This was where we would purchase two pennyworth of boiled ham, brawn, cheese, or anything that took our fancy.

We looked forward to special occasions. These were events like a new apprentice starting work, someone getting married or reaching their twenty-first birthday, or an apprentice 'coming out of his time' -- in other words qualifying as a journeyman. When something like this happened, then we could have a fuss. Whilst I was an apprentice there were several important occasions, so an outing was arranged to the Cock Inn in Stableford. There was rabbit pie, made from young rabbits, and after the meal there was a convivial atmosphere, with people singing and telling jokes. My workmates insisted that I should recite 'The Revenge'. I was always made to recite 'The Revenge' wherever I went.

Cauldon Pottery was one of the elite potteries at that time, making high-class china, earthenware and sanitary ware. I clearly remember the sanitary pressing shop. They were all big men -- they had to be -- except for one. This man was very slight and amazingly enough, he was the union representative. His name was Judd Hopkinson.'

This is the end of my father's recollections as dictated to me. He worked at the Cauldon Works until about 1924, the beginning of the Depression. When there was no longer any work at Cauldon, he went to work first at Ridgways, and then to the Goss Works in Stoke. I think it was 1927 when he went with one of the pottery works to an exhibition in London where he demonstrated his work in the presence of Queen Mary.

Shortly after this, he became unemployed, and he didn't find employment again until 1935 when he started to work at the Wedgwood factory. He worked at Wedgwood until he was 72 years old. Here is a prayer my father wrote about craftsmen:

Dear Lord, Designer and Creator of the World,
We thank Thee that Thou didst send Thy Son to work as a carpenter among men.
May we follow His example to labour diligently,
To attain perfection in all things,
With the talents at our disposal, so that our work shall be acceptable unto Thee
And grant that the product of our hands may
Become a blessing to the user, and a joy to the beholder.