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From an interview with Rae Drage on 25.7.2008. Transcribed by Jacky Lawrence
Nancy Hopkins
Picture of Nancy Hopkins in her royal blue coat with silver fox fur collar from Wills.
Nancy Hopkins in her Wills' Coat

I came to Rushden in 1933 when I was eighteen and stayed about six years. I had an uncle billeted in Rushden with a Mr and Mrs. Packwood, the builders that were there then. They kept in touch with my Auntie in Wales and they used to go on holidays there. While there they asked Auntie if she knew a Welsh girl who could go to be companion to his wife because he was confined to his work building, out all hours and she couldn’t be left. So I came up here to work. I didn’t like it very much at the Packwoods but I stuck it. I didn’t like to write and tell my Mum that I was unhappy there and not well and was advised to leave it. I was a companion. Florries’s father used to do all the fireplaces, the yard windows and all that. She had a woman to clean and I was to be a companion and get all her meals. They lived up Newton Road, there’s a little Post Office and up the road there’s a school. The house on the corner and you go along another road. The Packwoods were on the corner, number 80, as you go along this road with Newton Road going up.

After I left Mrs. Packwood’s; mind, I had a job to leave they didn’t want me to go at the time but I was determined to go. I was told about this other job with Mr.and Mrs. Muxlow and I was there for four and a half years. Somewhere about there and I got married. Not from her house, I got married from a friend’s house. But I left there to get married.

Mrs.Muxlow and I used to work together in the house, she used to Hoover and I would polish. We used to work together all times. I could come in anytime, my friends could come in for tea and everything, it was like a home from home. Mrs.Muxlow used to say. 'You’re like a daughter to me.' It was really lovely. I lived with them in their house in Newton Road.

The first year when Wills opened I went down for the excitement of the shop opening in Rushden, dress shop. I thought that was lovely, this coat. I wouldn’t look at anything else, I remember buying that coat. Royal Blue with silver fox fur. They said I could have it and pay what I like, so much a week. They trusted me didn’t they?

I met Bert at Rushden Feast. There was three of us girls. My friend came up to keep me company then. She went to work for Dr. Crane at the Rushden Hospital, he was a doctor at the San there. She went to work there as work was very scarce in Wales at the time. You couldn’t find a job at all, there was no work for men let alone young women. Three of us girls were walking along the park as the band was there on a Sunday night. My friend got talking to one of the boys. I said to my friend. ‘I wonder what Mary and Jacqueline are doing, are they coming with us or not.’ So I went up to her and said ‘Mary are you coming with me and Cath or not.’ She said, ‘I’m just telling him how to get out of the park to Wymington Road. Do you know that walk?’ I said, ‘Well it’s up there, it’s only just up there.’ So Bert said, ‘So show me then.’ And I walked off with Bert and left them standing and that’s how we met, that was it. We went with each other after, we were meant to weren’t we? When we got married I went to live in Wellingborough.

An early picture of the Mssion Church.
Mission Church
I went to the Mission Church up the Wellingborough Road. When I met Bert I finished, but when I used to go there I befriended their daughter, I forget her name now. Bromage, yes I’m sure, that rings a bell. The Rev. Bromage was the Minister there at that time. I was used to going to chapel. I made friends there, I was so lonely there at the Packwoods.

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