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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hats off to Women at Work - Sepia Saturday

PThis week's Sepia Saturday prompt photogrpah show a smiling woman, with her tied up in a turban scarf,  in the workplace wielding a power drill. 

I  remember as a young child  my mother putting up her hair in a similar scarf on wash day - always a Monday - we were traditional in the north.   This was the days before washing machines, not even a twin tub never mid an automatic.   She did the washing by hand and then got out the mangle  to feed the soaking clothes etc. through it to wring out the water. If I was at home on holiday I helped feed the sheets through, before  everything was hung outside to dry. 

All of this made wash-day an arduous task, so Monday tea was left overs - cold meat from the Sunday roast, served with chips. 

Needless to say  no photograph exists of my mother  on this task.  Family snapshot were strictly for recording leisure activities, not housework.  

Continuing  my headgear theme, here are some more photographs of women  in the workplace, wearing hats of one kind or another.  

A World War One Land Girl  - Becky Bennet 

This photograph was in the large  collection of my great aunt Jennie Danson  (1897-1989) of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.    I know nothing else about it. 

 My husband's aunt in the uniform of a  Land Girl and his mother  as an Air Raid Warden in World War Two. 

The Women's Land Army  was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars,  so women could work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military.

Air Raid Wardens patrolled the streets during the blackout to check that no lights were visible.  They also reported on bomb damage and sought  the help of the emergency services.

My Aunt Peggy (left) with a WAAF friend

In World War Two my aunt  Peggy Danson  served in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), with a note In the family photograph album that she was  in a Barrage Balloon Squadron in Hull, on the east coast of Yorkshire.  

Balloon barrages were a passive form of defence designed to force enemy raiders to fly higher, and thus bomb much less accurately.  The barrage balloon was simply a bag of lighter-than-air gas attached to a steel cable anchored to the ground. The balloon could be raised or lowered to the desired altitude by a winch
at times this could be dangerous work.

I could not resist showing again two images from my local heritage group, Auld Earlston,  as they fit my theme this week so well 

 Earlston Munition Workers in World War Two. 

Bondagers in their distinctive costume

Bondagers were female farm workers in south east Scotland and Northumberland. As part of their husband's contract (or bond) with the farmer, he would undertake to provide another worker (usually his wife) to help as and when required. The women wore a  dress with bonnet, described as the "last remaining peasant costume" in Britain.  The custom of bondagers lasted well into the 20th century. 


Finally I came across this quotation recently on Pinterest and thought it  was worth considering in relation to our own ancestors.   With thanks to www.ponderabout.com 

He who works with his hands is a labourer

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman

he who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.  


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photographs. 

Click HERE for more memories from fellow bloggers  


  1. Great photos of the different hats women wore in the service of their country during wartime. And the quote at the end of your post is interesting. All three lines could overlap depending on the circumstance. :)

  2. Working in the place of men during WW2 gave women who otherwise would have been at home the experience of outside work and many wouldn't have been happy when they were no longer required when the war came to an end. Those wives of workers in your last photo sound like they were truly under bondage!

  3. What a clever take on the prompt! I'm doing laundry right now, and I'm ever so grateful for the machines I have, especially after reading about your mother's wash day routine. As for work hats, I might have one or two photos, but most of my women who worked were teachers - no need for a hat.

  4. Aunt Peggy and her role in WW2 sounds interesting. She could feature in her own post.

  5. I've never heard of balloon barrages...very interesting.

  6. Hats that signify a job or occupation seem less common now, especially for women in official positions. Nurses, maids, cooks, etc. once had distinctive head coverings. Maybe because women's hair styles were longer then.

  7. I enjoyed seeing your relatives photos, uniforms of all kinds, and they were all doing whatever tasks were set before them. Love the quote. Yes, our appliances do help with our laundry and other chores, don't they? Nobody is taking pictures of us using them either!


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