43. Practical Skills

The Handyman

Grandad continued to do a wide variety of practical “handyman” tasks at home, at work and for others. I don’t know if he had his own workshop separate from work. He was living where he worked. So, I suspect he probably used the facilities in the work workshop when he needed them. I certainly recall that, in later life, he had a very well-equipped workshop. This was in a garage-like building behind the house in Drayton. He referred to this as his cabin.

A Bookcase and Other Things

Grandad made various things for mum during this period. These included, in 1948, a bookcase from a shop showcase that he no longer needed. Mum kept this bookcase throughout her life. It passed to me on her death. Other things he made included a frame, lamp holder and case for an electric clock; a music case; a leather binoculars case; a corner bracket for the telephone; a cooker cover; a gate; a fence; and a gadget for “reaching sloes”.  Other people who benefited from his handiwork were Annie Holmes, grandma, grandad’s nephew Len, and the tenants of grandad’s houses in Victoria Road.

Bookcase that grandad made for mum in 1948

Grandad Loved Woodwork Tools

Grandad loved woodwork tools and added more to a growing collection. Over Christmas 1947, he spent considerable time and effort setting up a new circular saw (see Chapter 36). In February 1948, he phoned Nuttalls (see box) of Mansfield to enquire about buying a “rip saw”. They said they had one. But, when he got there, he found it was cross-cut. He noted that he was a “little annoyed”. This is interesting as he rarely, if ever, directly expressed his emotions in his diary. He did in the end get both a 10 inch and a 14 inch rip saw. Other tools he bought (see Chapter 37) or made during this period included a sander; a bench drill; and a power plane.

I have found some adverts for Nuttalls including from the Sheffield Evening Telegraph in 1939 and the Nottingham Evening Post in 1943. It seems that they were at 20 Albert Street. However, I cannot find any record of them in the 1941 Kelly’s Directory.

Following in Practical Footsteps

Mum followed in grandad’s footsteps to some extent. Sometimes, she helped him with different jobs. Mum had a wide variety of practical skills, including knitting and sewing.  During this period, items she made or knitted included a dressing gown; chair covers; a jumper; a “derndalled” skirt (presumably Dirndl); a handbag and a nightdress. Where things were too difficult for her, she got other family members to help her.

Examples of Dirndl skirts © Jessica Hartman Jaegar and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
I am sure part of the reason why mum was so good at sewing, knitting etc. was the “make do and mend” attitude brought forward from the second world war. This approach is featured in these cuttings based on the work of Norman Longmate “How We Lived Then

Keen Gardeners

Both mum and grandad were keen gardeners. During this period, they noted acquiring plants from Jim and Renie and from Verlie Purvis (nee Deakin).