Maria Pescod

Insights from someone who used to work at Riverview

I started at J.M.Reed in April 1985 when I was 16, on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme). My sister Carol and my mum Sandra were already working there; Carol had started the year before me. My first job was with Doris and Mary, checking work and packing it. The first week my pay packet was £18. I had to pay my Mum £10 keep and run my motorbike to get to work. I worked with Doris Talbot; you either got on with her or you didn’t. I liked Doris. She was a bit stern and scary at times but I wasn’t frightened. Mary Male was the complete opposite to Doris, and Elsie Townsend, who was Pam Cox’s mum, was lovely.
Marina Male using an inseam machine

I wanted a job on the machines, where the girls were on piece-work, and I could earn some more money. I remember Marina Male would make the teas for us – Yvette and me use to call it “Marina’s mud”.

My Mum taught me inseam and I got it straight away. Carol and myself were naturals at it. After Derek Pitman cut the gloves up in his room, they would be brought into the working line in bins of 25 dozen by John White. If I was hot, cold or bored, I would go up to Derek’s room for a five-minute chat. He’d tell me about the horses he’d bet on.

First, you made the thumbs and then put them in. Next, the fitting went in and then the glove would be closed. You’d get your stretchers out and turn them the right way round – you had to make sure that the fingers were nice and straight and there was room to put them on, and no holes where you’d run off the side. If I remember correctly, I think I’d make 8 to 10 dozen a day, depending on what we were making.
Sandra Male, Pam Cox, Elaine Heathman, Marie Small & Margaret Lockesome of Maria’s work colleagues.
The man with the ceremonial chain is the Worshipful Master of Glovers.

I worked the prep machines on a couple of occasions, for a couple of weeks at a time, with Pam Cox, Heather Lock, Sally Flory, Alison Bloxham, Yvonne Thorne, Jeannette Talbot and Mel Bunston. I think the best memory I have is of Pam Cox telling me stories about when she was younger. I also done some ironing with Elaine Heathman, Sandra Male and June Worner – I don’t think my feet ever got over standing up all day…!
The Glove Factory workforce photographed for the Millenium Project – 2000. Maria is centre front.

We had a lovely little factory in Kingsbury but sadly, it closed in May 2005, and we were moved to Stoke-sub-Hamdon to work. I just couldn’t settle there and less than six months after we went there, I left to start a new job.

I have so many good memories of the factory in Kingsbury. The laughs we all had together, and some sad times. It was such a mixed group, from the “seniors” like Doris, Elsie, etc, to Mum’s age group, who all knew each other from school or were related to us youngsters. We all knew each other somehow. But it was also hard work. I think the saddest was when John died. I thought he’d be there until the last. Sadly, we are all getting older.
Clearing out the factory before demolition in 2005

Although I used to say to my niece, when she was younger, “Don’t come gloving, get another, better job”, now that it’s all but gone I think it sad that the art of glove-making will die with my generation, after years of being a local industry. All of the jobs lost that all of those people – mainly women – used to do.
I shall always remember the buzz of the machines going, the radio on and the quiet chatter of voices. Being boiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter – and the old clocking-in machine where we’d say our “good mornings” and “see you tomorrow”.