Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918

Source: Excerpt from interview with Mrs Dankworth, C707/263/1-2, Thompson, P. and Lummis, T., Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918, 1870-1973 [computer file]. 7th Edition. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor], May 2009. SN: 2000,

Text: Q: Did the Sunday school or the chapel organise anything else apart from the annual outing?

A: I think there was a tea at Christmas time. A tea, and you’d pay a penny to it. And sometimes they had a magic lantern that you’d pay a ha’penny for, you know, to go and see the magic lantern.

Q: When would that be?

A: In a weekday, you know.

Q: In the evening?

A: Yes, only from about 5 to 6, you see.

Q: And would you children be allowed to go to that?

A: Yes, that’s what we had to use our pocket money, our savings for that, our ha’penny for that. And we’d see all the … it was only like … it wasn’t cinematograph, it was just slides in a lantern slide, you know. Because, I mean, it was so different to what …

Q: Did somebody tell a story as the pictures came up?

A: No, you could just see what the story was, you know, from the pictures, you know. It was like a Mickey Mouse thing, really …

A: … Now and again my mother and father would go to the pictures.

Q: They would go to the pictures?

A: Yes.

Q: Really?

A: Yes.

Q: How would they?

A: They would go to the one at the Baker’s Arms. They were in that picture when the place was bombed in the First World War. They were in the pictures there. And we were at home, the children. And they locked the doors of the cinema so that they couldn’t get out.

Q: Why?

A: Because of rushing into the road with bombs, they locked the doors so they couldn’t get out and they kept them in there. Because they were the first bombs that … they were zeppelins that dropped the bombs, you see. When they got back to Midland Station there were dead bodies lying in the middle of the road. I do know that. And my father lost his hat there, his bowler hat in the pictures. Never found it.

Comment: Mrs Dankworth was born in Holloway, London in 1892, the second child of six. Her father was a contract carpenter, often out of work. She was interviewed in November 1970, one of 444 people interviewed by Paul Thompson and his team as part of a study of the Edwardian era which resulted in Thompson’s book The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975).