You are here: Home > Learning Zone > Teachers Forum > The Tobacco Factory  

Learning Zone

WILLS GIRLS -Extracts from WILLS PRESS

DAD MINDS THE BABY November 1972

Mr Stephen Loader feeds baby Stuart while his wife Sheila gets ready to leave for the cigar factory twilight shift.

Cigar twilight shift work has created a new routine for housewife Mrs Sheila Loader and her husband Stephen, a driver's mate in the Wills road transport department at Bristol. Within 20 minutes of getting home Mr Loader is giving their six month old baby his bottle and getting him to bed, so that Mrs Loader can start the three and a half hour evening shift as a cigar making examiner at the factory round the corner from their house in Lime Road, Ashton. She is helping to boost production of Castella Panatella cigars during a two month spell with 44 housewives all former cigar factory employees. "The extra money helps." says Mrs Loader. "I gave up work in January when I was having Stuart....During the evening work I meet old friends I have not seen for five years. With the routine we've worked out at home everything is going great

CHRISTMAS BONUS

Mrs Loader is one of many housewives on cigar making, packing or stemming whose husbands arrive home in time to look after the family. Mrs Kathleen Fowler, who has returned to No 2 factory to earn money for Christmas presents leaves Katie 3 and Timothy 2 to be put to bed by husband Brian. "They are no problem and he does not mind." she said.

Former factory guide Mrs Gloria Lambert, who has a 19 month-old daughter Sharon, is planning to get a colour T.V. set with her earnings and so is Mrs Carol Sweet a mother of two.

For Mrs Margaret Thomas evening work in the stemming room is something of a family affair. She joins her sister Mrs Josephine Minchin and sister-in-law Mrs Jenny Burgess at work while her mother Mrs Dorothy Burgess, who works part-time in cigar packing, looks after her four children until their father gets home. Mrs Thomas says "I love being at work anyway and I would like to start part-time on a regular basis in the next year!"


GROUP SCHEME IS A BIG SUCCESS, SAY PACKING GIRLS

Two dozen cigarette packing room girls have just emerged from a period of the most intensive study ever to be exercised at Wills and the six month experiment has been voted a success. The idea was to have 16 full time and 8 part-time under one supervisor that they could go to talk to, if they had any personal problem, as well as questions about work. Clearly a lot depended on the supervisor. Miss Tremlin has been with Wills for 26 years and apart from his first year in the primary department of No 3 factory has spent the rest of her working life in packing rooms.

Miss Jean Tremlin

 

BRING THE SCHEME BACK!

"It was hard work in the beginning to get the people to work as a team ." she told Wills World. "But after a time they felt that they belonged and they were really worried if a machine went wrong."

Mrs Hilda Phillips a morning worker who has been with Wills for a year said: "It was nerve wracking at first because you didn't want to make any mistakes. But any problems were dealt with straight away however small."

 


Mrs Lu Parfitt worked in a shoe shop until she came to Wills in 1965. "I had reservations at first," she said. "Having a chargehand right by you frightened you to death, but you soon got used to it. I'd like to see the experiment back."

Miss Joan Watts was also sad to see the experiment go. With a permanent place on a machine "you haven't got to be shoved around." she said.

Mrs Margaret Woods appreciated she had someone to turn to. "It was a happy atmousphere, especially when you remember you have five different personalities in a crew."

GUIDE LEAVES AFTER 50 YEARS OF SERVICE


Factory guide Miss Florence Bird shows the cigarettes coming off a making machine to Mrs Gladys Ramseyer who used to work in the stripping room at No 3 factory.

Miss Florence Bird says, "There have been so many changes since I started in the hand rolling department. And most of them seem to have been in the last few years." For more than 40 years, Miss Bird has worked as a hand-packer in the beating up room at No 1 factory since 1944. She is also the longest serving factory guide and has been showing visitors round No 1 factory since 1944.

MISS FRY WALKS HOME FOR THE LAST TIME

Miss Phyllis Fry walked home for the last time on April 14, the day she retired after a lifetime at Wills. Every day come rain or shine for 46 years she had made the 15 minute walk from her home in Parson Street to the Raleigh Road estate and back again in the evening. Miss Fry began work at Wills in the No 3 factory cooling room and later went into the steaming room.

 

Last day at work - Miss Fry makes a moisture test in the Bristol cigar factory laboratory

JOURNEY DOWN MEMORY LANE FOR GERTRUDE

Mrs Gertrude Moore was left in no doubt when she saw the photograph in the Western Daily Press. It was a picture of her, taken when she was 15. That was in 1908 when Mrs Moore, now 87 worked as a packer for Wills. "Not all were pleasant." she recalls, "One of the other women shown was the supervisor who Mrs Moore told me was a bit of an ogre!"

 

Mrs Gertrude Moore when she was fifteen

WOMAN WITH A MISSION IN LIFE

After 40 years at work Miss Ruby Packer from the Bedminster staff snack bar is retiring. Miss Packer joined Wills in 1925 at the age of 14 and worked in the roll room, preparing pipe tobacco for spinning. She volunteered for the Land Army in the war and when she returned to Wills she went into the restaurant department and was a waitress in the staff dining room.

 

Miss Packer on her last day at work, serves a cake to Miss Bridget McDonnell in the Bedminster staff snack bar.

 

Please note that the inclusion of a listed building on this website does not mean it is open to the public.