Coventry’s rural working class

Although people from Willenhall were employed in Coventry’s car manufacturing and machine tool factories and Binley’s coal mine, residents recall the fields, farm labourers and animals that defined their area as more rural than urban. Betty Leather’s mother took a job on a farm sewing sugar beet, thinning them out and then harvesting them during the Second World War. She continued to work seasonally on farms in the post war period:

Length of audio: 1 min 18 secs

Betty: My father said, he asked, he told her he asked her to marry him and he’d keep her. And that’s what he did. Well when we, before my sister was born when the war started my mum used to go out and do farm work. Sugar beet. They used to sew the sugar beet seeds and then have to thin them out and then they used to harvest them. Well that money that she got for that she, that had to go into a building society, that wasn’t spent. Me father kept us. That was, that was the idea. And also all our family allowance which I think it was, [narrator working out the sums] no it was ehm, ten shillings which is 50p now, I think it was ten shillings and that ten shillings had to go, you didn’t get it for the first child, so me mother never had it for me but when me sister came along she had ten shillings a week and that went into an account, a bank account but it wasn’t used to spend.

Hilary: Why was that?

Betty: Well because my father said when he asked her to marry him, “Marry me and I’ll keep you.”

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