Mr Robert Driver - Hoyle, Hoyle Lttd

As a sickly child he didn’t go to school much so to reach the number of attendances required to leave school he didn’t start work until aged 13 years.

Hi brother worked at Hoyle, Hoyle Ltd in the finishing room at Ilex Mill, Bacup Rd, Rawtenstall so in 1917 he started work in the lasting room. It was dangerous with belt driven machinery that nearly took of his hand one day. His first job was to make up pairs of slippers as they came off the production line, a boys job that was not on piece rate but was paid a weekly wage as a percentage of the people piece rate.

He talks about his early exposure to union business with his father been branch secretary of the Carters Union, a similar role he would undertaker later in life (see Mr Robert Driver – Union recording).

He describes the process involved in sewing a leather sole onto a slipper using terms like, channel opening, sole wetting, levelling and channel closing. He continues to explain about hand lasting and the skill of the console operators in pleating the toes and the tacks – ‘tingles’ as they were called and that they could produce up to 4 dozen pairs per hour. He recalls buying in wooden heels from Stansfields at the bottom of Coupe Rd, Waterfoot.

One job he did – packer required him to buy his own knife and hammer to use the cut and hammer the pleats down, pack the fore part and insert a wooden shank before the sole was attached. Later when steel shanks came into production operators would put a hand full of ‘tingles’ in their mouth leaving hands free to hold the shank in place and then use the tingles to attach them.

After two year he recalls his wage as 19 shillings and 6 pence per week before leaving to start work in the union.

The manager at the time was George Hoyle who was strict but you didn’t see much of them. There was no canteen you just warmed your food up in the boiler room and eat by your machine. The toilet facilities were limited and ‘shocking’ with only two toilets on each floor of the 4 story building.

He recalls lots of stories – one when he was caught sailing his boat in the water on the flat roof of Ilex mill.

When he started work (1917) he recall some Christmas dances that would help raise money for parcel to be sent to work colleagues who had gone to fight in the first world war.  He and his friend had taught themselves to dance and would dance with each other until a couple of ladies split them up.

Hours of work 9 hours per day, 5 ½ days per week including Saturday morning.

To listen to the sound recording please click on the green button with the white triangle below. 1:03 mins