Elizabeth Constable

‘Betty’ discusses growing up in a happy family of 11 children as the youngest girl. Describes how her mother made ends meet using club cards and ‘diddlums’. Lived in Holderness Road area. Left school at 15 and worked in ‘Steradent’ department at Reckitt’s, later became a cook working in school dinners and Reckitt’s canteen. Describes her early social life particularly going out dancing and dance halls.


Media No: 1004
Interviewee Forename: Elizabeth
Interviewee Surname: Constable
Year of Birth 1937
Interviewer: Dan Dearing
Location: Unity In Community, Endike Lane
Date of Interview: 04/02/2016
Duration (HH:MM:SS): 00:18:55

Time Code Notes

[00:00:00] Betty was born in Hedon Road Maternity Hospital on 12th May 1937, Coronation Day. She was the youngest girl of eleven siblings. She recalls a happy upbringing despite their being little money. She ran errands for a neighbour and shared the half crown with her mother. Betty’s older sisters were in the ATS.

[00:02:15] Betty’s mother used to have club cards and would shop on Whitefriargate, maybe buying a new dress. She would shop in Boyes with an occasional visit to the more expensive Marks & Spencer. She recalls Holderness Picture Place and other cinemas on Holderness Road. Betty remembers having a piano and a black and white television. She recalls rationing and getting bananas.

[00:04:18] When Betty left school she got a job at Reckitts working in the Steradent department. She remembers the dances at the weekends when they would cover the swimming pool. If they ‘got a lad’ they would go in the changing rooms. Betty’s uncle converted a railway carriage into a caravan which was parked at Nettleton’s Field in Withernsea. She remembers going to the beach and eating chips.

[00:06:06] Betty used to go dancing at Reckitts and sometimes the City Hall or East Park Ballroom. Betty talks about Christmas and using her father’s socks for Father Christmas. There would be an orange and an apple, maybe sweets or a banana and sometimes something new to wear.

[00:06:50] Betty was visiting City Hall recently and it brought back memories. She recalls that if you got a lad you went on balcony with him. She remembers more about the cinemas including ‘Royalty’ on Newbridge Road.

[00:07:59] Trousers were never worn at the dance halls, it was always dresses. Betty, as the youngest girl, had hand me down dresses that were often too big for her, but it didn’t bother her.

[00:08:32] A dance hall night was always live music. They would sit in the cubicles until they were asked to dance. Some of the bands were well known.

[00:09:05] Betty’s Grandparents lived on the pier next to the Fruit Market. They would get bananas and, if there was money, an ice-cream. She remembers the horse wash at the pier.

[00:10:00] At the dance halls the boys would give you a kiss but nothing else.

[00:10:19] Betty worked at Mayfair and Savoy cinemas selling ice-creams, she remembers the old money. She didn’t open her wage packet until she got home.

[00:11:02] When she was 18 she went ‘on board’. She would give her mum half of her wages as board payment. As the youngest girl she would be sent to the pawn shop with her Dad’s best suit. It was off Courtney Street on Arundel Street. She would maybe get £1 or £2 on a suit. Her father liked a bet but the police would be watching. It was down a terrace in Balfour Street.

[00:12:34] Betty went to Buckingham Street school which was called ‘Mucky Bucky’. If you were posh you went to Craven Street school. From there, if you were clever, you went to Malet Lambert. Betty didn’t go there.

[00:12:57] Betty worked at Reckitt’s. Over the years she went to college and qualified as a cook. She worked in schools and then worked in the canteen at Reckitts. She recalls the big boilers where the potatoes and vegetables were cooked and then rice pudding and sago. It was hard work.

[00:13:52] Betty got married at St Andrew’s although it is pulled down now and old people’s homes have been built there. There was an indoor swimming baths on Holderness Road with a big Methodist church opposite.

[00:15:10] Betty remembers having a diddlum. She describes it like putting money in the bank. She would have a little book and would get the money back at Christmas with interest.

[00:16:16] She left school when she was 15 and got married at 20. She thinks she had to leave work when she got married.

[00:17:06] Betty’s sister was the landlady at Bonny Boat on Spring Bank. They would use the tips to buy things in the sales in town. Her Mum bought underwear with her club card and bought them bigger so they lasted longer. Betty says that they never wore bras.

These time code notes are provided as a rough guide to the above recording. Untold Hull would like to thank all the volunteers who took part for their time and hard work in producing this information.