Bolton Remembers the War Logo
Leila Parker - War Worker
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Leila Parker
Leila Parker



Leila Parker

8 June 2005

Leila was born in Bolton in 1919 and brought up in Salisbury Street. She went to St Edmund's School and worked at Tillotson's who then ran the Bolton Evening News.

When War broke out she went to work at Burtons in Halliwell Road though she couldn't sew. Leila was the first person from the factory to be called up. She was sent to De Havilland in Lostock for office training and then went to work at the Mule Street factory, off Bury Road. Leila had a Wartime wedding at St Edmund's Church, followed by a modest reception at the Coop in Bridge Street and a four day honeymoon in Morecambe.

Joe, her husband, was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and was sent to Malta, where he was caught up in the siege and suffered from malnutrition. He came back when the War ended and was stationed at Beaumont Road in Bolton, which was then used for storage. He was demobbed in June 1946. Leila went back to Malta in 2005 as a guest of the Maltese Government and received the Battle for Malta 60th Anniversary & Reunion Medal on Joe's behalf.

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Working for De Havilland's... mp3 sound clip - 425kWorking for De Havilland's... mp3 sound clip - 425k

Going for a Burton...

We had to have an occupation for the War. So six of us one day in 1940, decided to go to Burton's, on Halliwell Road, where they were making uniforms for the Forces. I don't know why I went because I couldn't sew at all but we went, and to put it mildly, it was the worst time of my life the months that I was working at Burtons! I worked on trousers and I had to make a pocket, and put a size label on, all in a minute. It was a conveyor belt coming down and it only stopped five minutes every hour, and I never had a break, because I was always behind, and the lady in front of me was behind, but it was an experience, in that I'd never worked anywhere only in a family firm and this was a very, very big firm. And it was certainly an experience, but I was very unhappy. And when I used to go home, I was an only one and my auntie lived next door and I used to cry, and she used to say ‘You're not going tomorrow!' but I had to go because you couldn't stay away.

Working for De Havilland's...

Because I had clerical experience I was sent to De Havilland, in the office in De Havilland. I was in the office at Lostock for a short time being trained and then, they opened four satellites: one in Mule Street of Bury Road, one at Mill Hill off Bury Road, one at Croasdale Street near Kay Street and one in Little Lever. Now I was sent to Mule Street. I would imagine it was a mill originally, and the office was in the centre of the ground floor. I did go to Mill Hill for a short time and I did go to Croasdale Street, but the main job was at Mule Street. I met some really nice people and my best friend, who I met in 1941, only died a few months ago in Bournemouth. But we kept in touch all this time. It was difficult, we had to work nights as well as days, we started at seven thirty in the morning and it was usually ‘til seven at night, and then the night shift came on - nine o'clock ‘til seven thirty. So for only two hours in that twenty four was free from work.

It was very near to that paint works - W & J Leigh's Paintworks. In fact, because we used to see they had some prisoners of War working there, Italians, and they had a round ring on their back. We knew they were the prisoners when they were knocking about, you know. It was a very varied job, because we'd lots of different things to do. With us working nights, we were on shifts, you see, all the girls were friendly together and we'd two men bosses. It was quite a happy time really.