Bolton Remembers the War Logo
Nellie Shaw - Women's Land Army
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Nellie Shaw
Nellie Shaw



Nellie Shaw née Hart

14 September 2005

Nellie was born at 17 Markland Hill Lane, Bolton in 1925. Her father was a lamplighter and she went to Church Road and Whitecroft Schools. She started work at Chesro at Sunnyside Mills, making dresses for Tootal Broadhurst Lee.

In 1942, at the age of 17, she applied to join the Women's Land Army and ended up working at Oldham's Farm, which was her brother's farm. She lived at home, setting off each day at 6.15am and returning on the 6.45pm bus. Each day consisted of mucking out, milking the cows and delivering the milk, as well as muck spreading and growing potatoes, kale and wheat. She finished as a Land Girl in April 1947 after 4 years and 3 months and has always felt that the Women's Land Army never received the status and recognition they deserved. A memorial to the WLA was only unveiled in 2005. They are a forgotten Army who provided an essential service for the nation.

Full text of Nellie's interviewFull text of Nellie's interview

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The Land Girl's wardrobe... mp3 sound clip - 260kThe Land Girl's wardrobe... mp3 sound clip - 260k

Life on the Oldham's Farm... mp3 sound clip - 582k Life on the Oldham's Farm... mp3 sound clip - 582k

The Land Girl's wardrobe...

Three shirts, six pairs of knee high stockings, a lovely overcoat, a hat, a tie with all stripes that said WLA, WLA, WLA... green pullover, corduroy riding britches but those that finish at the knee, we must have had two pair of those. And then when you were lucky, you got gabardine ones, which you saved for best. Overalls, and a coat - I think these days they'd probably call it a milking jacket, but it was fine for taking milk... Boots, you didn't get gumboots, you bought your own. Oh, sturdy brown shoes and a black mac. We were covered for everything, yeah, we were. They were replaced every year! I really can't remember how. You never had tatty shirts, or anything like that. You sort of got half a dozen pairs of stockings every year, so they must have sent us fresh shirts and fresh stockings, and probably a fresh pullover. You had the same coat all the time.

Life on the Oldham's Farm...

I lived at home. So I used to catch the bus at quarter past six in the morning, and I caught the half past six Belmont bus from town, so when I got off the bus, which was near Wilkinson's Sanatorium, walked up the path. If it was summer, I used to bring the cows in on my way, and if it was winter, unfortunately you mucked out when you got there, and then we milked. There was no machines. There was no electric on the farm either. And then after you milked you had your breakfast, cooled your milk, got it into kits, and went delivering. It was the milk float for about twelve months, and that's the horse that I had photographs with. Then he got a van! So, not that first hay time the next one came around, I must have been driving because I took it on my own at busy times. I don't know, surprisingly enough when I went to this school to tell them, one little boy put his hand up and said ‘You wouldn't have to pass a driving test would you?' I said ‘No, I didn't'. Because you didn't at that time. So, there were milk jugs left on doorsteps. We'd very few bottles, or otherwise the door was just left open and you walked in and put the milk in. No, I enjoyed that bit.

And then you'd to wash all your cans and things and then the afternoon was spent doing what you had to do outside, which was muckspreading - which I didn't do a lot of. We also grew potatoes, kale and wheat, which normally dairy farmers wouldn't do, but we had to do, because the War was on. You had a digger for potatoes, it threw them up, but you had to pick the potatoes, and if it was muddy, you left your gum boot behind! The kale you cut, and then of course, wheat came at the back end, when the harvester used to come round. When it was hay time in the summer, Irish... You used to get Irish men then come hay time, and you always got the odd man or a friend trotting up doing something. You know horrible jobs like taking lant out and things. There was one bloke who didn't mind doing that! So I was actually out of our house thirteen hours every day. And in summer, when you'd finished, because it was double summer times... when you was hay making you could work later, so it was later than that. I had one half day off a week.