Saturday, 3 October 2015

Women’s Work

From the Derbyshire Courier, 2nd October 1915.


Many New Spheres.

Trade Training for Girls.

An interesting scheme is being carried out by the London County Council, with the assistance of the Queen's “Work for Women” Fund.  It takes the shape of a trade school at Shepherd's Bush for training girls as shop assistants.  At present there is a great and growing demand for them, two London firms having offered situations to fifty girls when they are prepared to take them.  Those girls who cannot afford to pay for the classes have received grants from the Queen's “Work for Women” Fund of 11s. 6d. a week each.

The scheme is being carried out with the help of a Consultative Committee on which the master grocers and the Shop Assistants’ Union are represented, and before being passed a minimum wage was agreed upon, girls of 18 to be paid 18s. a week; at 19, the wage to be increased to 20s.; 20 years, 22s.; 21 years and over, 24s. to 25s. a week.

Another Sphere for Women.

In England and Wales there are over 600 little farming communities in which the process of smoothing out the inequalities of distribution in the stream of industry is going on.  One of the most interesting is at Swanwick, in Hampshire.  From that region, within the strawberry weeks, upwards of three million punnets of strawberries have been sent to market by train; and in addition many cartloads of the fruit have been taken to jamboilers and greengrocers in the large towns on the South coast.  The year before last the growers were seriously embarrassed by the cost of the baskets, the price of which had crept up gradually from 7s. 6d. to 15s. or 16s. a gross.

Accordingly they made up their minds to manufacture the baskets themselves.  With the help of the Agricultural Organisation Society they built a factory for the purpose; and here, to-day, some 26 girls and about a dozen boys and men are turning logs into baskets.  The logs are peeled into long, fragrant ribbons by machinery, and these are shaped into punnets by hand.  The result of the experiment was, last year, that within a few months of the start, in the February, 500,000 baskets had been made, on which the farmers saved close on £900; and this year it is calculated that the saving will be still greater.

Moreover, it was discovered, when the supply of aspen from Russia and willow from Belgium gave out, that British poplar and osier would serve the purpose just as well; and for the cultivation of these arrangements are now being made.  Hence the managers are creating a village community in which many people will be busy and happy and moderately rich.

[I had completely forgotten, until I read this, that strawberries were once sold in little punnets made of thin strips of wood.  Now completely superseded by plastic boxes.]   

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