Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
From an interview with Rae Drage on 11th May 2010. Transcribed by Jacky Lawrence
Doreen Lumbers

I'm 88 and was born and bred in Rushden. Well, Home & Colonial, 53 High Street, Rushden. I worked there from about 1937 to 1940, the staff then were Mr. Joe Larman, who was the manager, Aubrey Chiles, who was the first hand, eldest of quite a large family. Stanley Labrum, Ron Edwards, from Irchester, Derek Pack, from Higham and Donald Coleman, from Higham, who was the errand boy and me Doreen Smith, who was the cashier. This shop had had a refit in 1937 with a cash desk and above staff and was part of the Allied Suppliers group which also supplied Maypole, Liptons and Star grocery shops. We all had our tea on the premises as shops did not shut until 7pm then, on Fridays 8pm. We had a tin of pineapple, 4 1/2d, a tin of cream which was tuppence (2d) and a slice of cake which was tuppence. Still, wages were only about £2 10s to £5 or £6 for the manager and needless to say we didn’t have fruit and cream every day.

During the war the cash desk was dispensed with and more ladies came into the shop notably Ruby Deighton, Doris Fairey and Joyce Morris. The morning that the Victoria Hotel was bombed, Cave Shoe Factory and Alfred Street School was a frightful horrendous calamity. Thankfully we dashed to a spot under the stairs hoping for safety with hearts pumping with fright. Unfortunately the factory and school classroom received a direct hit and many were killed or maimed. Soon after this I was called to go to make munitions at Almarco, at Wellingborough and then to Dubiliers, in Glassbrook Road, Rushden. I worked nights and I was on a big lathe machine, I was there, say for two years. Then I left off and had a baby.

I went to Rushden Intermediate School, I’m trying to think of the time 19 . . . be about 1931. I went down to that school having passed a certain amount of exams. Unluckily I didn’t go any farther because I wasn’t clever enough but by and large it turned out to be a very good school with a very good headmaster.  Mr. Perkins made everything come to life, he was great and also he had his fun moments. I must tell you this, we were in the hall, which we went every morning to sing a couple of hymns and he gave us an address and he said. ‘This morning now we’re going to sing "Who are these like stars appearing" and you’ll see who they are when you start singing.’ So we all start singing "Who are these like stars appearing" and out comes Derek Perch, no Douglas Perch, Bert Lumbers and one other boy. They’d been so naughty and it was a job to control them so that’s their punishment. Into the library, come out as we were singing and they all looked very shame faced but it was fun for us.

Mr. Perkins was very hot on maths, a brilliant mathematician and he wrote several textbooks for our use and he made all maths come to life. You couldn’t help but listen to him he was absolutely brilliant. Apart from that we had Mrs. Hensman, who put the fear of God into you, but she was very, very nice and the only two drawings I ever did which were any good was under her tuition. So I’ll just put this little bit in, at 1984 I started art classes and have done a few since then and I’ve not been afraid to hang them on the wall.

All taught by Mrs. Hensman, yes, well sort of, I’d forgotten in between. Mr. Perkins was also quite hot on our doing well in sports, very interested. He didn’t do any himself but we had some good teachers down there that, you know, were sports orientated and I’ve got several photographs of myself fleeing over hurdles and long jump, high jump anything else you could mention. We loved to be down the field, hockey club.

Doreen's photo of the teachers
Being very photo conscious I did take a photograph of the teachers all together. There is Mr. Howitt, who taught the boys, Miss Boyes, she was very good and she was, I believe she went to a headmistress. After that Mr. Guardam, who taught woodwork, Miss Buttling who we all loved who married Mr. Dodge later. Mr. Entwhistle, again a boys’ class, Mrs. Hensman, Miss Smith, she was the French mistress, who my husband used to like to walk home, and Mr. Clark who took science etc. All very nice and all very approachable.

click here to read about the Intermediate School


Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the People & Families index
Click here to e-mail us