A BUSY LIFE

by

A BUSY LIFE
By Doug Farnill
(East Leeds lad now in Australia)

A BUSY LIFE
In 1947 I started work as an apprentice at Geo Bray and Co. One of my fellow apprentices and close friend was Jack Bosomworth. (I would love to be in contact with Jack someday to compare our life stories). One day, Jack asked if I would like a weekend job, helping him and his father, Mr Bosomworth – I never knew his first name – erect garden sheds and garages. My apprentice pay was about 24 shillings in the old money, and I gave most of that to Mam, who allowed me a few shillings spending money. So, I jumped at the chance of acquiring a few extra bob.
The sheds and garages consisted of wooden frames to which fibro-cement (aka asbestos) sheets were nailed. A seven foot by five- foot garden shed was a fairly small job and Mr Bosomworth could manage one on his own. A 16- by 8-foot garage with a concrete floor, however, was a different matter. Jack and I would nail the frames, cut the asbestos sheets to fit, and nail the panels to the wooden frames with galvanised nails. We cut the asbestos by scraping a groove down the required line and breaking the sheet over a straight edge. The nail holes had to be drilled, otherwise the asbestos sheet would split. What with scraping, drilling, and hammering, there was lots of asbestos dust floating around.
I worked every other Saturday or so for 5 years before emigrating to Australia. In the beginning I took 10 shillings for my day’s pay, and later negotiated 15 shillings. Despite being frugal, by 1952 I still needed to borrow money for my sea trip to Australia.
I have survived 70 years since my regular encounters with the asbestos dust and count my lucky stars. I worked hard, learned a lot, earned not so much, enjoyed great mateship, and still look back with some nostalgia at what Jack and I used to achieve. We polished our techniques to eliminate waste, made special scraping tools out of old metal files, and perfected mixing batches of concrete in an old galvanised bath tub. In retrospect, I’m not confident that our sheds and garages would stand without wobble for more than a few years, nor am I sure that our thin concrete (in cement strength and actual thickness) would have stood much weight without cracking, but I never heard any complaints.
A 43.75 hour working week at Geo Brays, a 7-8 hour Saturday job, three nights a week night-school, Saturday nights at the Mecca or Barnbow or Starlight Room, and Sundays with the Leeds Atlas Cycling Club, how was it possible? It was a busy life for a Yorkshire lad. If you told a young person these days, they would never believe you!
Seriously, if anyone knows Jack Bosomworth I would love to hear. And, it would be nice to hear some more of the part-time jobs that we used to do in the old days.

Great tale Doug. This sets up a stall for anyone else to send tales of their after school or part time jobs. If anyone has any information concerning hack Bosomworth please send a comment to this site and we will try and put Jack or his descendants in touch with Doug after all these years – I’m sure Doug would love that.

LOOK OUT FOR A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Tags: , , ,

19 Responses to “A BUSY LIFE”

  1. peterwwood Says:

    Thanks for the tale, Doug. Without putting the ‘mockers’ on it, the gods of asbestus seem to have ben kind to you, lets hope your friend, Jack has had the same luck.

  2. Edward Blackwell. Says:

    Hiya Doug a good tale, I like you was subject to exposure to asbestos in my early working life, we worked on boilers and furnaces, and packed expansion joint and suchlike with both, blue and white asbestos fibres. Of course we
    were completely ignorant of the potential dangers to our health, never wore masks in those days, no health and safety, I feel very fortunate not to have suffered any side effects, from those early years, unfortunately some of my colleges from that period were not so fortunate. As for the asbestos sheets you were handing they are quite safe whilst the asbestos is encapsulated within the cement binder, however when you start drilling or breaking the sheets the dust particles released are dangerous especially those less than 30 microns which you don’t see that can pass directly into the lungs. I was also an apprentice when I left school I started on £2 a week in 1953, I had a Sunday paper round which brought in an half a crown for my pocket money,
    but times were hard and I tipped all my wages to my Mum, Happy days…take care Doug all the best for Christmas and the New year..

    • Doug Farnill Says:

      Thanks Eddie, and a merry Christmas to you too, I’m glad that you escaped that dreadful lung disease caused by asbestos. We had no idea of its dangers back in the late 40’s and early 50’s. And you got 2 quid a week – luxury!

    • Edward Blackwell. Says:

      Hiya Doug, I’ve just recalled a couple of years ago my next door neighbour had one of those prefabricated concrete garages erected, to replace an old asbestos cement sheet one which had a wooden frame. Two guys arrived in a huge articulated lorry with all the sections on about 8:30 am. Demolished the old garage, wearing paper masks which are no protection at all for the job they were doing, had a tea break and erected the prefabricated sections, roof on Fibre cement sheets, door fixed, they loaded the old debris onto the lorry swept up and were away before lunch, but I must say those concrete sections just bolt together in a flash no measuring cutting drilling or nailing. Just to put the record straight I was paid £2 a week as an apprentice which I gave to my Mum, I got 2/6d a week pocket money from the paper round I did on Sunday mornings…..lol..
      Cheers for now take care..

  3. Edward Blackwell. Says:

    Hiya Doug a good tale, I like you was subject to exposure of asbestos in my early working life, we worked on boilers and furnaces, and packed expansion joints and suchlike with both, blue and white asbestos fibres. Of course we were completely ignorant of the potential dangers to our health, never wore masks in those days, no health and safety, I feel very fortunate not to have suffered any side effects, from those early years, unfortunately some of my colleges from that period were not so fortunate. As for the asbestos sheets you were handing they are quite safe whilst the asbestos is encapsulated within the cement binder, however when you start drilling or breaking the sheets the dust particles released are dangerous especially those less than 30 microns which you don’t see that can pass directly into the lungs. I was also an apprentice when I left school I started on £2 a week in 1953, I had a Sunday paper round which brought in a half a crown for my pocket money,
    but times were hard and I tipped all my wages to my Mum, Happy days…take care Doug all the best for Christmas and the New year..

  4. Eric Says:

    A busy life in those days Doug but in many ways , it helped shape the character to face up to difficulties which may arise in later life.
    I had an acquaintance who worked for a Co called Pudsey Concrete who specialised in concrete panelled garages & garden sheds. I remember asking him what was his fastest time for erecting a 16 X 8 garage. He said a team of two could rattle one of these up in a couple of hours , including offloading from the delivery truck , sealing the joints etc . Not only that but he was slightly built yet could easily handle , alone, one of the concrete wall panels which must have weighed well in excess of a hundredweight.

    • Doug Farnill Says:

      Thanks Eric, your mate was a hard and skilled worker to erect a 16 by 8 in two hours or so. For us, to load, deliver, unload, erect, and put in a concrete floor took every bit of a whole day. Mind you, perhaps we didn’t expend ourselves entirely, because after a quick wash, a bite to eat, it was off out for the Saturday night dance at the Mecca or somewhere.

  5. Eric Says:

    Hi Doug
    To be fair , they didn’t lay the concrete floor , that had be already in place. And as Eddie says , the panels were made to be bolted together without any trimming or adjustment except lining up the bolt holes.
    Your practice sounds a much more amenable one.
    Hope the weather stays good for you for Xmas

  6. Gloria Blakey Says:

    Message from Donald Richardson Ex Leeds UYMI player now aged 93 and living in Paignton Devon says he would like to wish everyone who remembers him a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

    If anyone wants to send him a message I can pass them on as I speak to him two or three times each week.

  7. peterwwood Says:

    Brilliant, Audrey is still alive and kicking. She wishes us all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. She is having a bit of trouble with wordpress so I’ll type her comment in for us.

    A great yarn, Doug your title ‘A BUSY LIFE’ is the solution to stop the courts overflowing with juveniles on charges of thieving, vandalism and much much more.. I’ve met lots of under 40s who told me I was lucky to own my own house. The lucky bit was I didn’t get sick and could work 7 days a week. I was very amused at your starting wage. In 1957 mine was £3.10 at Burtons tailoring factory. We still had to work 44 hrs a week and tip up all my wage to my mother. Health and safety rules ??? Are you mad you had a choice ‘do as you are told or you don’t have a job’ It rather does bring to mind the radio and TV skits of ‘Tha thinks you ‘ad it bad….when I was a lad’ …etc etc etc
    Many thanks for your e-mails I’m still plodding on
    Audrey.

    *******************************************************

    How lovely to hear from you again. God bless you Audrey.

  8. Eric Says:

    Hear , hear. Good to hear from Audrey again with her quick wit & well crafted yarns.
    Come on Audrey , we’re well overdue one of your hilarious tales

  9. peterwwood Says:

    Nice to hear from Audrey again.This is Brenda Wood my wage Audrey was £3.4 shillings and 1 penny strange how you can always recall your first wage. That was Redmans Sewing Shop in Hebden Bridge my Mum gave me 10 shillings a week out of this amount.

  10. peterwwood Says:

    Well OK if we are all playing the poverty game: when I started as an engineering apprentice I got 26 shillings a week and even when I was conscripted into the army at 21- until I was 23 we only got 35 shillings a week and we had to eat gravel!

  11. peterwwood Says:

    Hiya Gloria, I remember as a lad going to watch my Uncle Jack Blackwell play for L.U.Y.M.I. he played Left Wing, I don’t know if the time frame fits with when Donald Richardson played, but a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to him from all of us in East Leeds.

  12. peterwwood Says:

    Great news to hear from Audrey Pete, I miss her stories, she has so much skill when she tells a tale, get well soon Audrey and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…

  13. peterwwood Says:

    If were really playing the poverty bit..
    Christmas is coming the Goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the Old Mans Hat, if you haven’t got a penny a halfpenny will do, if you haven’t got a halfpenny, then God Bless You..
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all…

  14. peterwwood Says:

    Hi Eddie. I think those last two comments were probably yours not mine. I don’t know what went wrong?

  15. peterwwood Says:

    Hi Pete, not to worry it’s probably my new email address that’s not been recognised, I’ve used my old email address this time to see if it makes any difference…

  16. Gloria Blakey Says:

    Hi Pete.

    Just been speaking to Donald Richardson and he says he can remember your uncle’s name but can’t put a face to it. He wants to know if you can remember any of the other players, he says he played in the 1940s and left in 1949 to go to Ossett Town. He thinks he is about 10 years older than your uncle and he is now 93 years young. I was telling him about your wages 26 shillings when he left school is got 7s.6d. and gave most of it up to his mother, she gave him 1s.6d back and he bought a pair of red and white football socks he says he thought he was the bees knees.

    When I left school In worked in a solicitors and got £3.7.6d. and I thought by how rich am I nowadays kids wouldn’t get bed for that sort of money.

    How times have changed.

    Anyway wishing you a happy and healthy new year. If yo can enlighten me on the above I will pass it on.

    Cheers Gloria

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: