Woodford Occupations

Woodford Family Occupations


Framework Knitting

This was the main form of work in Leicester, and Woodford & Wormleighton was a Fancy Hosiery Manufacturer in 1891, employing 710 men and women and 60 boys and girls.

framework_knitting A descendent of John Henry Woodford recalls that the Woodford and Wormleighton factory owned by John Henry Woodford started with one knitting machine in a room over a pub in Leicester to knit balaclava helmets for our troops in the Crimean War. By 1891, the Woodford and Wormleighton Fancy hosiery Company employing 710 men and women and 60 boys and girls. It floated on the stock market as Woodfords Ltd. and was later taken over by Nottingham Manufacturing.

Most of the Woodford family were connected to the framework knitting industry or boot making industry Hand knitting originated in Great Britain in the 15th century, in 1589 in London. The industry then developed in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Other machines were invented, such as the Strutt’s ribbing machine in 1758, and Brunel’s circular frame in 1816. William Cotton patented a procedure in 1869 which permitted an automatic increase or decrease in the number of stitches required to produce a fashioned garmen Hand frame Knitting was an important part in the life of the North Leicestershire villages during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Yarn was obtained from merchants who also rented out the frames. Each week the finished goods would be taken to the merchants and new yarn collected. This was often carried out by a middleman known as a bag hosier, or bagman. The frames were placed in the home or in some cases in outside sheds or ‘shops’ Framework knitting was the main employment in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries with the stocking frames situated in the house, so that all the family could benefit from the work and contribute to the family income. The knitting was often carried out by the husband with his wife doing the seaming and the children winding the wool on to the bobbins. As the demand for knitted goods increased more frames were installed in new factories and house extensions.

Boot making boot_maker

Before the time of the introduction of sewing-machines in 1857, Bespoke shoemaking was the traditional way of hand sewn shoemaking, and laid the foundations of the trade in Northampton and Leicester long before machinery. The idea was that a shoe was made to fit due to careful and detailed measuring, and it was this that set an individually-tailored shoe apart from todays mass produced counterparts. The customer would know that this boot or shoe had been made for their comfort with hand stitching and hand finishing When the sewing machine was introduced, factory made shoes became the faster way to mass produce boots and shoes. Groups of workers would set up small closing shops in their homes or in purpose-built closing rooms, and the machinery often rented from manufacturers. Outwork – This was making part of a shoe outside the factory. Pieces would be collected from the factories and would then be made up by the shoemaker.


Runnalls Family Occupations



newlyn harbour

Most of the Runnalls and Kitto families are shown in the censuses as fishermen around the Penzance and Newlyn areas. Fishing in Cornwall was traditionally one of the main elements of the economy. Pilchard fishing and processing was a thriving industry in Cornwall from around 1750 to around 1880, after which it went into an almost terminal decline. During the 20th century the varieties of fish taken became much more diverse and crustaceans such as crab and lobster are now significant.

Much of the catch is exported to France due to the higher prices obtainable there. Newlyn is a working but picturesque fishing village which runs into Penzance, but has successfully kept its characteristic identity. With fishing being the main focus, the village has developed from the harbours outward. This has led to the harbour front being surrounded by small granite fisherman cottages, reached by narrow roads and alleys. Fishing is a hard and dangerous living, and every family involved in fishing has lost someone.

Weather permitting, Beam trawlers are out 7 days and home for 2 and a half in weather up to force 8 gales (these make up most of the fleet). A few big ones stay out 10 days and back for 2 and a half (big ones stay out in worse weather) Some boats have ice making machines others take ice on board before going to sea. The catch is mainly megrim sole, dover sole, lemon sole, conger eel, monkfish, cod, hake, and haddock. Most trawlers have 5 crew, skipper, mate, engineer, cook and 2 deck hands. Everybody works in turn on deck and on watch 3 hrs on and 3 hrs off. The fish are cleaned and gutted on board after each haul (every 3 hrs) They fish up to 100 miles out to sea wherever they think the fish are.


Printers Compositor compositor

Before the arrival of mass medial newspapers were slow to develop in Cornwall. due to poor roads, and long distances. Distribution of national newspapers did not start fully until the coming of the railways in the 1840s.

The first newspaper printed and published in Cornwall was the Royal Cornwall Gazette, first published in 1801, and It finally ceased publication in 1951 Compositors were the most highly paid members of the trade, having great spelling skills and were often expected to correct authors’ punctuation although that later became the task of proofreaders. A compositor gathered type, sorted by letter, size, and kind, from a compartmented box. He set each letter on an iron rule, called a “composing stick,” to form words and lines.

The type had to be set “backwards,” as printing reversed the images. When several lines were done, the compositor set them in wooden cases called galleys. Sometimes woodcuts were added to illustrate notices and advertisements. The galleys were tied with string, gathered and locked in a page-size iron frame, or “chase,” and secured to the stone bed of the press. A carriage carried the chase back and forth beneath a pressure plate, or “platen.” A fellow called a “beater” used two wood-handled, wool-stuffed, leather-covered ink balls to spread a mixture of varnish and lampblack evenly on the type. Moistened sheets of paper were laid in a cushioned frame that hinged down on the chase, and the carriage was run in. Mounted on a screw about the size of a man’s forearm and operated by a long-handled lever, the platen was lowered by the pressman, or puller. Each sheet was squeezed against the type under about 200 pounds of pressure to receive its impression, then set aside to dry before the other side was printed. Each impression required about 15 seconds.

The workday lasted up to 14 hours. The compositor served a 7 year indentured apprenticeship with a printer and could not be released until his 7 years were completed. My great grandfather James D. Runnalls began his apprenticeship in Penzance at the age of 10 or 11 and had completed this service by 1881 at the age of 18. He then moved to London by 1887 where he met his future wife.


Female Occupations in London   Garment Worker


 The choice of occupation for the working class girl in London was limited to either domestic servant, prostitution, shop work, the stage or dressmaking.

Dressmaking was honest employment and appealed to many. It promised long hours and hard work in every field. The dressmaker’s life varied according to the place of employment.

There were many different types of dressmakers, but there were five main categories of dressmaker.

First: The high class court dressmakers

Second: Those who worked in the workrooms of large stores such as Harrods.

Third: The many hands who worked in the East End of London where labour was ‘ sweated ‘ out of them.

Fourth: The ‘little dress-makers’ who worked privately in various types of accommodation.

Fifth: The more or less incompetent dressmakers who were employed almost as an act of charity by private households.

None of these dressmakers were well paid for their labour, although some were employed in more tolerable conditions than others. Their roles were impossible to envy, and the more impoverished seamstresses worked to eat, and ate to work and supplement the household income.

Several women in my family including my grandmother worked from home, but she had to keep it a secret from my grandfather who on one occasion threw the garment she was making on the fire and forbid her to make any more clothes for people other than family.

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