Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Mr Norman Woodward recalls working conditions at the Challenge Woollen Mills during the Depression, interviewed in 1986

Mr Norman Woodward was born in 1918 and interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960.' He went to work at the Challenge Woollen Mills in Liverpool during the Depression in 1932.

INTERVIEWER: What were the conditions like working there?

NORMAN: Atrocious. There was no locker rooms, there was no showers, no lunch rooms, and the only place you hung your coat, you banged a nail into the wall at the end of your machine and you'd hang your hat and coat there. No place to wash when you finished work; and lunch time, well you just sat down at the end of the machine and ate your lunch because there was no dining rooms. There was unions then but the Textile Workers' Union was known in those days as the weakest union in Australia. It had to be weak then because there was no work and you did what the boss told you. If you didn't you're kicked out and there was two hundred waiting at the gate to get your job. So you just had to take it.

INTERVIEWER: And what did you do there?

NORMAN: I was a spinner, worked on machines spinning yarn, woollen yarn.

Contributed By
(Excerpt from interview with Mr Norman Woodward, from the 'Looking back at Liverpool : an oral history of the Liverpool region 1900-1960' conducted in 1986 by Liverpool City Council, editor and project co-ordinator Catherine Johnson ; researchers Angela Imbrosciano, Verica Miiosavijevic, Kathleen Smith)