Late 50s early 60s
As I read the memories of old Laindoners on this site I see the Baigent Works in the High Road mentioned by a few people, so I thought it would be interesting to record my memories of it and maybe other people would like to add to it with theirs.
Mine begin in approx 1956 when my mother became a partner in a dressmaking business there with a Mr Raphel Hymas Jacobs, her name was Violet Sewell. They at first made mens trousers and then they won some contracts with Lewis’s and Chelsea Girl. It was a very busy little place, there were about 20 sewing machines and they all ran off the same motor at the end of the line, so when one machine belt broke everyone stopped while it was being repaired.
The girls sat in two rows opposite each other machining, I will never forget the noise they all made when they were all working. In the middle of the factory was a big old iron stove that had to be topped up all day as this was the only form of heating for the factory. As you came in the front door there was a small office on the left and then there were three or four ironing boards, two big Hoffman pressers, then the stove and then the two rows of machinist. No way would any of it pass health and safety today, but I do recall the girls there were a jolly bunch and the radio blared out all day mostly Elvis.
On the left of the stove were some wooden stairs leading to what was called the finishing room, it contained approx four overlockers, a buttonhole and button machine and two felling machines. Out the back door was a long garage type building, this was the cutting room Mr Jacobs always cut his own work to make sure he got every inch of cloth used. The better he cut it the more “cabbage” he got which means when the customer sent say four rolls of cloth to make say 100 garments and you got 110 out of it 10 was your “cabbage”, nice one.
He was so funny he never let any of the girls buy any garments from there, his idea was that if he sold them to you and you wore it for work he wouldn’t know if you had pinched it or not, strange man but then it takes all sorts, he was very good to my mother, but I can remember her working 24 hrs some days to get an order out. Lunch times the girls would get chips from the chippy next door, I think it was Card’s can’t be too sure on that one. The little general stores opposite where the girls got the milk coffee etc. was called Steer’s and my mother used to get the girls wages from Lloyds Bank which was also opposite.
I worked there for a short time after I got married, I will never forget I was expecting my first son and as my husband was in the army I used to go there to help where I could to pass the time. One day a lady called Ivy said to me what’s wrong Gloria you keep flinching I keep getting these pains I said. Then the whole factory stopped, everyone’s watches came out and yes I was in labour that night at 12:20 I gave birth to my first son, now that’s what they call working till the end. I really wish I could remember the names of more of the ladies that worked for my mother, I do recall they were a great lot. I hope this article will jog some memories and some one will record some more memories of Baigent Works.