Oral History

Mr John Southam talks about the conditions under which the Frame Work Knitters Wrought-hose Branch live and work

Please Note The figures at the beginning of the line, correspond with the numbers at the foot of each report; and the figures at the end of the line, refers to the MS. Paging of the Volumes arranged for The House of Commons.

Interviewed: Mr John Southam

4320. What work are you making? --- I make both full-hose and half-hose.

4321. What number of frames have you? --- I have four frames in the shop.

4322. Who do you work for? --- I work to Mr Woodcock.

4323. In what frame are you working? --- I work in a 21-gauge frame.

4324. Are you well acquainted with the condition of the people here? --- I am well acquainted with their condition. Indeed, the suffering of the people in this town are very great. My sufferings have been great indeed. Two parts of two summers, and two parts of this year, I was in the poorhouse of this town for the want of work. I am sufferer too at the present time. Take the shortest time, if I work hard three hours, and never move from my bench, I get 31/2 d in three hours, and I consider myself not one of the worst, and not exactly the best, and I think I must venture to say that there are not 5 out of 10 that can get that clear. I have gone so far as to say, and I say it now, that take the town through, they cannot get a penny an hour clear money.

4325. Who are working the four frames in the shop? --- Myself, and my son-in-law works as a journeyman with me, and my son. I get 6d a-week frame standing, doing up his work, and taking in, and so on.

4326. And all the benefit you have is your one frame? --- That is all the benefit I have, and a poor benefit indeed it is.

4327. And what is the principal work done in the frames? --- 3s men's hose; 3s - 3d and 3s - 6d are what we have been manufacturing this week; and after that, we go to 4s - 6d, which are the best qualities; if you go to 5s that is a great quality; that is what I am making now off of 93 leads. There are a few 24's made in the town, and when they are deficient of their frames to put their orders in they put them into 21-gauges.

4328. And what do they get for that? --- 5s - 9d a-dozen that is the price they are giving for that and 102 leads.

The Witness Mr John Southam withdrew.