I have had to speed through Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’ and have had to put down David Nichols’ ‘One Day’ to make room in my reading window for ‘The History of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters’. This is not my usual read, but something that must be done. When it dropped onto my door mat with a tremendous THUD, my heart did race with antici…pation. The information contained in this book is very important for my brief study of Dudley, hosiery making and the years spanning 1855 to 1868. Just thirteen little years but so much can happen within a brief space of time.
Joseph Green began life as a farmer’s son. In his teens he was a grocer’s assistant. On the 1861 census he is into hosiery and millinery and by heck, by 1864 he is a Hosiery Master, working from the living room of his family home. What must that have been like. What type of machinery was he manoeuvring in his home? Was it some kind of clacketty clack clack wooden frame affair? How long would it take a person to train to become a Master? I assume his family would have helped him, but how? I can imagine his children being roped in to doing all sorts of tasks. When my parents owned the appliance and furniture shop on B Street, I remember having the wide broom handed to me. To be honest, I think my parents were just trying to keep me occupied. A big, empty refrigerator box was my most favourite gift, as it meant hours of colouring the inside to make my own little home. Oh, how the hours flew by as the shop, with me in my Crayola house.
But I digress…
I just want to get a better picture of their life. How much of this I will use in the final project is another matter. Whatever I learn along the way will somehow come through in the final result. It’s all very interesting that these men have been makers of things. Richard Kingwell made paper and was a Master and supervisor in the early 1800s, then Joseph Green (Richard’s son in law) became a maker of fine garments. What next? Farming. Hm. Maker of things that grow? Two generations went another route, and then there was me. Maker of things to fight in the war against ugly.