Last updated: Jun 06, 2019 at 11:57 am
The Jewellery Quarter – Now a Place to Really ‘Live Work and Play’:
Coffees, Cakes and Creatives
These days, if you live in the Jewellery Quarter you can spend the whole day just going from one venue to another, eating and drinking every few yards, and visitors can do the same, including ‘making things’ along the way, going to talks, on walks and volunteering for all kinds of interesting and enjoyable work. (See our Events Section).
‘Ye Olden Days’
So different to what Hockley was like ‘in ye olden days’ when it was just a place to work, very often for long hours on boring repetitive work, surrounded by left-over squalor and crumbling old housing stock. The streets were knee-deep in rubbish wrapping around your legs as you walked on the cobbled pavements, and broken guttering showering water all over you on a wet day. I won’t even mention the sanitary arrangements!
There were very little safety or fire regulations so plenty of accidents. There were still plenty of pubs though – often with anxious wives waiting outside on pay day to catch their man to get some of his wages before he got into the pub!
Some people romanticise about those times but in reality, there was little leisure time, most people working a nine-hour day (plus four hours on Saturday) no unemployment pay, sickness, or benefits such as maternity/paternity pay, child allowances, etc. The only paid holiday was Christmas day, plus one-week summer holiday. You could take the Bank Holidays off, but you did not get paid.
If you were self-employed you got absolutely nothing! If you didn’t work – you, your wife, and kids, didn’t eat!
We actually had ‘Pay Day Loans’ in those days, one particular gent was known as Mr 10% – some self-employed guys didn’t get paid in cash – instead they were allowed to keep the scraps (sweeps) instead, but it was difficult to get the money from dealers in time to take home as ‘pay’. The following week you paid him back +10%.
Children worked in the factories part of the day from a very early age, but even then, they were expected to be able to read, write and do sums by the time they left Junior school. They were also taught to respect their elders and discipline was very strict – even ‘talking’ in class could result in a severe ‘caning’.
Evenings and weekends, Hockley became a ‘ghost town’ with deserted, very dark streets and quite intimidating – and the Council even suggested at one time of making it a ‘red-light’ area at weekends – but we soon squashed that idea!
No, I am not romanticising – but actually write from experience!
Jewellery Quarter Festival
On a much happier note – the Annual Jewellery Quarter Festival is upon us at the end of the month and preparations are now well underway. It all sounds a load of fun and hope the weather is fair. If you know a ‘no-rain dance’ – get going!