Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Another Day At The Office

There's no getting away from my great aunt Maud, who once again provides me with the perfect material for this week's post. Maud is in the middle row, first left of this group. You will remember that last week she took centre stage in the guise of Britannia; this week she is more soberly dressed, as befits her position in the Labour Corps Records Office, in Carrington Street, Nottingham. The letter she received when she started there has been handed down to me, but it it is in a very fragile state, having first been folded into an envelope and then mended with sticky tape which has left a brown residue in the folds. The letter is typed in purple ink, which makes it even harder to read, so here's the transcript:

With reference to your application for employment in this office as a Clerk, you are engaged from April 30th 1917 on the following terms and conditions:-
The hours of work (for the present) will be 43 hours per week, from 9 a.m. to 12.45 and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays from 9 a.m to 1.15 p.m.
The rate of pay is 19/- for a week of 43 hours with a 2/- a week War Bonus, The week commences on Saturday morning and ends on Friday Evening.
Any absence which is not supported by a Medical Certificate, will be deducted for.
You are employed by the Government and subject to the Official Secrets Act.
A week's notice given on a Friday before 6 p.m. on either side may end your employment.

Signed by Capt. Collins for Colonel i/c Labour Corps Records and stamped Labour Corps Records Nottingham 2 May 1917.

This is interesting from the point of view of the hours worked and the rate of pay. I don't see any references to a tea break, though I'm sure there was some sort of refreshment; the hours were long, but there was a war on after all.

The other people in the photograph aren't named, but I do know a little bit about them. The job might have been serious, and probably deadly dull, but I think friendships were formed with some interesting characters. How do I know this? Because Maud kept an autograph book which has also come into my possession. I whetted your appetite I hope, when I wrote the first post about her in January, Where Was Maud? and mentioned it in passing. I'm sorry you've had to wait so long for me to reveal some of the contents. Most of the entries are from 1919 -1922, when there was still much work to do with demobilisation, and Maud obviously wanted to remember some of her colleagues, and a few are from 1926-1928. They range from serious poems and famous quotations, to witty aphorisms, alongside delicate sketches and watercolours, intermingled with cartoons and pasted scraps of maps. The Labour Corps Records Office rubber stamps appear on several pages, providing both verification of the autographees and an idea of some of the work that had to be done.

"Not entered on Medal Roll" states one stamp - "Being surplus to Military requirements (Having suffered impairments since entry into the Service.) Para 392 (XVia) K.R." Some office wag obviously thought it would tickle Maud to remember this years later! I wonder which one in the photograph it was. Click on the images below to enlarge and view in a light box slideshow. To see more visit my Flickr Set, Great Aunt Maude's Autograph Book.

A note about Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday has family bibles, inscriptions in books and perhaps other written ephemera as a prompt. I put together a montage of photos from two of our Sepia Saturday Facebook members as requested (now that I am joint administrator of the blog, as well as the Facebook page I take my duties very seriously) but I have no family bible of my own to write about, so I was delighted when Maud came to the rescue again. Alan and I are keen to include more material from contributors as prompts, so please get in touch with ideas. We are also going to be 'refreshing' the blog/meme in the run up to the 200 posts milestone, and I'll be canvassing opinion through the Facebook page, so please keep an eye open on there.

In the meantime, see what other contributors found in dusty tomes, weighty volumes and secret diaries, or join in with some of your own.


  1. What a wonderful pair of heirlooms to have, and the connection between them so important, too. I believe there not a great deal written, perhaps even available in records, about the work that women did during the war. We're used to seeing War Service Records of soldiers online e.g. via Ancestry and findmypast, but I have yet to find anything at all relating to the nursing work that my grandmother and her mother did during the Great War.

  2. It is so thrilling to have a documents, photographs etc. on an ancestor. It helps bring your Aunt Maud "alive" to your readers.

  3. The invitation to write in the book is my favorite one. The night flying map is an amazing bit of history, but I can't imagine submitting it as my contribution to a friend's autograph book; however, in retrospect it's wonderful.

  4. Now I am wondering what happened to my autograph book in which someone wrote on the last page, "By hook or by crook, I'll be last in this book. And by the skin of my teeth I'll again be underneath."
    Two great heirlooms to have and to cherish.

  5. Oh that Maud was quite the lady! She's got to be smiling down upon such a fine tribute. I've lost a few of my autograph books as well. Sometimes they can bring so many headaches years later, when they land in the wrong hands!

  6. What a wonderful post. The first photo is so clear. And I do love autograph books and those sayings. Very touching.

  7. The date of October 1918 adds an invisible color to the group. They all look a bit worn out to me. Are they thinking about the possible end to the war? The autograph book is fascinating, and like Wendy's book, the sentimentality is part of this age, though here it is tinged with 4 years of a horrific war. People obviously put a lot of thought into what they wrote. I wonder if today's social media will be collected and preserved in the same way for future generations.

  8. What nice little drawings too. A really interesting autograph book. Much better than the one I had from 6th grade. Wonder where it is?

  9. The artwork in Maud's autograph book is exceptional. Was everyone an artist in those days? And the pilot gluing in a copy of the map!

  10. I am growing quite fond of Aunt Maude -- me thinks she must have shared some of the qualities that made my Aunt Gail so memorable. I must write more about Gail. Thanks for sharing Maude, again.

  11. It is fun seeing the variety of art etc. in the book.

  12. And the images fascinate us now. The 'when you are blue...' one is a cutie. How about the 12.45 - 2 pm, would that be Great Aunt Maud's lunch break?


  13. I had completely forgotten about autograph books until this week's collection of sepia posts! Must find mine.
    And, the flyers map - what a different thing to find in an autograph book!

  14. As always, such a satisfying post - as pleasant to read as a bar of Fry's Five Boys is (was) to eat. The photo is quite magnificent : all those faces and all those different expressions and moods and emotions. As for the Autograph Album it is quite splendid. It was the kind of Edwardian equivalent of a Facebook Page wasn't it.

  15. That's a treasure to have! Remembering her is certainly not a task...

  16. Like that drawing in the one before last page.

  17. How neat!

    Can't wait to learn more about the upcoming changes.

    Kathy M.