Oh I miss Woolworths!! Author of ‘Wartime at Woolworths’, Elaine Everest, has kindly written a guest post for my stop on her blog tour today! Thank you to Bethan for asking me to be involved in the blog tour, and I hope you all enjoy the guest post!
The Woolworths girls have come a long way together . . .
Fun loving Maisie, is devoted to her young family and her work at Woolworths. But her happy life with her RAF officer husband, their baby daughter leads her to think of the family she left behind . . . With the war now into its fourth year, what will she find when she sets about searching for them?
Sarah and her husband, Alan, are blissfully happy and long for a sibling for their daughter. But dark days lay ahead for this close family.
Freda heads home to Birmingham, to go in search of her family, back to the life she fled – far from the safety of Woolworths and her new friends.
With families’ separated by war, will the Woolworths girls be able to pull together?
Wartime at Woolworths is the third moving installment in the much-loved Woolworths series by bestselling author Elaine Everest.
A Day in the Life of a Woolworths Girl
When researching the working life of Woolworths workers in World War Two I was
surprised to find little had changed from when I joined the company as a Saturday girl
in 1969 at the age of fifteen and three months which was then the legal age for
youngsters to start work.
My memories of those Saturdays are tinged with the excitement of youth and earning
my own money – the princely sum of one pound before thruppence (old money) was
deducted for National Insurance. That day in March, when I proudly took home my
brown pay packet with the thin strip of paper showing deductions was also the day my
pocket money stopped; but that’s a story for another time.
My day started early when I caught the train from Slade Green for the short one stop
journey to Dartford. We had to be in our uniforms and on the shop floor for the bell
that sounded throughout the store announcing the doors were opening to the public at
8.30 am. As a Saturday girl I could be moved around to where I was needed most and
I often found myself in the windowless basement on the toilet roll dpartment. Toilet
rolls had their own department? Yes, and as soft tissues were still fairly new there
were also boxes of the excruciatingly rough paper with the ‘medicated’ smell that we
used as tracing paper when kids. When not busy you would find all assistants dusting
the stock. I have fond memories of dusting boxes of toilet paper using a feather
At the beginning of our working day we would be informed whether we were first,
second or third lunch and tea breaks – there was never a chance to slip off to the
bathrooms in between breaks or head outside for a cigarette as workers seem to think
is their rights these days. First lunch break started at 11.30 am and meant the
afternoon would drag whereas third lunch meant we had a short afternoon but had a
long wait for that first tea break of the day. Yes, my favourite was third break as I
could make myself busy until 10.45 as I waited to hear the bell that told me I could
down tools and head up to the staff canteen.
The canteen was always a welcoming place and the staff supplied with freshly baked
goods for tea breaks as well as a cooked lunch. We were well looked after. We would
sign a book showing what we’d had for our meals and this was deducted from our
The bells ruled our lives and they rung for the start and ends of breaks as well as
lunch. Five minutes before the store closed that bell rang again before the doors were
locked. Until then we were not allowed to leave our counters and had to ensure that
everything was tidy and counters covered for the night. If we tried to slip away early
the supervisors who roamed the store would have had our guts for garters.
A quick dash upstairs to change out of our sludgy green overalls and then we queued
to sign and collect our pay packet – minus anything spent in the canteen that day.
Heading for the station we would stop to look in the window of a boutique or perhaps
pop into the record shop to look at the charts and buy a 45 rpm single then head to the
chip shop for a portion of chips, liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar, to eat on the
train going home.
Life was good when we were fifteen and even better when we escaped the sound of
those bells! Such was my memory of my life at the Dartford store that many years
later I set my books in the iconic Woolies and had Maisie moaning about those bells
whilst Sarah’s mother-in- law, Maureen, was feeding the staff up in the canteen.
Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest is published on 3 rd May by Pan Mac
(available in paperback and ebook, price £6.99)
Buy now from Amazon