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Interview of Gladys Winifred Smith (nee Hollins), 28th February 2001

Interviewed by Mike Preston>

Gladys was born in Thurmaston, and left school at the age of 14. She began her working life in the hosiery trade but after a time wanted a change and in 1941 asked her brother, who was working for Taylorcraft, to see if there was a vacancy for her. She was given a position at `No.2 works` based in the Britannia Works building at Thurmaston, helping to restore Tiger Moths, along with about six other women, all of whom lived locally. In 1942 she was transferred to `No.7 works` in Syston, where she helped to produce foot pedals for the aircraft, moving on to electrics and assisting with the construction of instrument panels. Gladys recalls their `target` at the time of building 24 planes in a month - a high number compared to their usual order. They worked from 8.00am until 9.00pm (as opposed to their normal working hours of 8.00am until 6.00pm), including weekends. They succeeded in their task and celebrated at the end of the month with a drink in the `Dog and Gun` in Syston! The staff at that time Gladys recalls as being both men and women, the men consisting of those having been taken out of the army/air force due to injuries sustained in the war. The majority of the men were welders and were able to carry out their work in spite of severe disabilities such as amputation of legs. In about 1944, more women were taken on at No.7 works from surrounding areas, some of whom had opted to work for Taylorcraft rather than joining the forces.

Gladys recalls the ladies getting together to form a football team, playing at the nearby Syston park. She remembers challenging a team from Rearsby aerodrome and, although confessing to not being a particularly good team, managed to raise money for the Red Cross by winning (Gladys thinks) by two goals to one - Gladys scoring the winning goal!

Gladys lived in Gipsy Road, Leicester and would cycle to work each day unless the weather was particularly bad, in which case she would catch a bus to Syston. In November 1944 Gladys went to work at what was the old tram depot on Abbey Park Road in Leicester, helping to build wings for the Lancaster Bomber as a riveter. She remained there until July 1945 when she married.

Her work at Taylorcraft stood her in good stead as, ten years after her marriage; Gladys took a job in engineering which lasted for sixteen years. She remembers her years with Taylorcraft with great fondness and believes she made the right move in leaving the hosiery trade in her early years.

All of these transcripts are available in a single file in several formats.


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