Growing-up With Southall From 1904 (Memories of R.J. Meads)


Good Offer Turned Down. 

                        About this time the piece of land in Cambridge Road where now stands the telephone exchange was offered to my father by Dr. Windle for £100. Dispite all good advice he turned the offer down. The councillor who bought it built 8 houses on part and sold the remainder to the Post Office for the first part of the new telephone exchange, which was built by Halse Ltd. of Woolwich and opened in 1923. My father worked on it and did most of the drain work, of which he was proud. He could not say the same about the work on the houses, which he also helped to build. At the time the builder’s son was Building Inspector for the Council, and some of the work which normally would not have been passed was granted certificates. He was eventually dismissed for unprofessional conduct. 

Emigration, Local and Far. 

                        Towards the end of 1919 the Australian Government provided passages for wives and children to join their husbands in Australia, and the day came when the tearful goodbyes were said by many Southall parents seeing their daughters and some grandchildren off at Tilbury. After a time news was received as to how they were settling down, and it was not all good. 

                         Canada was also calling for skilled building workers, offering far better wages than were being paid in England. Wages at that time were 10 ½d to 1/- per hour for labourers, 1/1 to 1/3 for painters, 1/4 to 1/6 for bricklayers and tilers and 1/6 to 1/8 for carpenters. Plasterers were nearly all on piece work. Highly-skilled joiners and electricians earned 1/9,  and plumbers the same. I knew personally several that did emigrate, men that worked with my father. Most of them did very well and sent for their families. 

                           Unemployment was very bad in the town during 1919-20, but then things started to get better. A large number found employment at Hayes. The H.M.V. Gramophone Company got back into peacetime production. A large piano factory, the “Aeolian”, opened. Harrison’s stamp works, Scott’s jam factory, the British Electric Transformer Co. and the X-Chair factory all helped to find more work. 

                           Although a great many used to walk along the canal or ride their bikes to work the railway fare ( workman’s return ) was only 3 pence. Workman’s fares were issued to all who travelled to reach their destination before 8 a.m. The fare to Paddington was 10 pence, and to Farringdon Road 11 pence. Some Southall men used to work at the Maypole Company’s head office in London.