Built in 1899 the original head office of Thomas Ogden’s Tobacco Company and factory are still standing on Boundary Lane off West Derby Road in Liverpool. Billy and Barbara Rainford met while working there in 1968. Billy worked throughout the factory in the Case Making, Filling Room and the Blending Room while Barbara documented tobaccos such as St Bruno and Gold Block once it had been stripped and weighed. Below are some of their memories of their time there:
Length of audio: 1 min 10 secs.
Barbara: I also thought though I didn’t want to leave school without being in work and I wrote to another factory, as I say it was Barker & Dobsons the sweet factory, and I went for an interview and you know they say well ‘we’ll let you know’ and everything. And then I went for me interview for Ogdens and I got two letters both with a starting date of the same. I was fifteen on the twenty-fifth of August which was on a Sunday and both to start on the twenty-sixth of August which was the Monday. And I always remember me Mum and Dad saying well Ogdens is your best bet because I think the money went up every year in Ogdens, it was slightly better.
Billy: Because you got the bonus.
Barbara: You got the bonus.
Billy: Plus it was only at the bottom of the street.
Barbara: Yeah and in Barker & Dobsons you had to pay for your overall out of your wages and me Dad said “well somebody, people will always smoke”, you know what I mean and me friends were starting there and I would have been on me own going to Barker & Dobsons as well.
length of audio: 2 min 32 secs.
Billy: There’s a type of tobacco called Shag tobacco, I got sent there and that’s where all the tobacco came from the Cutting Room, got transferred into there, flake and when I first went there it was rough cut because there was a, rough cut tobaccos, flaked tobacco, rough cut tobacco.
Hilary: What was the difference?
Billy: Well flaked tobacco was as you can imagine, flakes, it was … you had the cakes and most of them was three inch wasn’t it, the St Bruno and the, the Walnut and the Redbreast. The cakes would be cut up into strips of six on what was called a crosser. Then they would go into the machines and the six strips would be got put into the machine and get cut [unclear] or cut up, I mean er there were different cuts like Bruno was twenty-five cuts to the inch where you got twenty-five flakes to the inch erm. Walnut, like a walnut slice and Redbreast, they’re all twenty-five. Then a few years later when we got all the … they stopped manufacturing the pipe tobacco in Players in Nottingham and they transferred it to Ogdens so we got er a batch of Digger tobacco, that was thirty-one cuts to the inch, that was terrible stuff to cut that.
Hilary: What made it so difficult?
Billy: Well when they were manu, when they were blending it and that Digger tended to be a bit heavier than the likes of Bruno, but I don’t know if they put more moisture in it so that and with it being a thirty-one cut to the inch it was sort of, it was a slower cut and erm it was just awkward to cut.
Hilary: Would it crumble?
Billy: Not so much crumble, it did sometimes if it was a poor cake, the worst thing it did was jump, like you had the knife, the knife was coming up and down, that’s a, you seen them didn’t yer, they went at a terrible rate, and you had your fingers right up to the knife.