Madeleine Sleath describes how she got a job as a porter at Rothley Station during WWII and the work she had to do there.
East Midlands Oral History Archive
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We were discussing one day what we were going to do myself and about 3 of my friends and suddenly we looked in the newspaper and there was a picture of a woman porter on one of the London stations and I just said, ‘that’s the job I’d like!’ A day or so later one of my other friends came she said, ‘you said you wanted a job on the railway.’ I said, ‘yes I should love it.’ ‘Well I know where there’s one going. The station master at Rothley has lost two of his porters and he said he wouldn’t mind if he could get a strong girl to take over.’ Mother wrote for an interview and took me over on the Wednesday. He looked at me and he said, ‘you’re not very big but I think you look tough enough.’ So I asked him what I would have to do and he said ‘well all the porter’s jobs you’ll have to do except climbing the signal ladders.’ The one other porter that was left, an elderly fellow, he would be on duty when I was off duty. If I was on early turn he’d be on late turn, you see, but he always got the lamps down…we had to carry everything up 36 stairs or down 36 stairs…another of my jobs was going down to the weigh office to weigh the drays out when they were ready to go out or weigh them when they came in with any loads of anything… As I say, I left in 1919 to be married…I couldn’t give my notice in until I could be released when they got one of their men back and they sent me that sewing machine for a wedding present and that cost 27 pounds. The season ticket holders had a whip round for my ‘constant good nature and readiness to help’ that’s what it said on the letter…I’ve still got the letter.