Moira started in Tick Tock after leaving school at 15 (1963?). It was a very Welsh factory. She notes the training; singing at work; holding the eyeglass on her eye; targets; the strain on eyes when making women’s watches. She left to have the children (c. 1970) but returned to work on men’s pocket watches. Then she made clocks for cars at the Enfield factory. At Tick Tock – there was no dust and they wore rubber shoes. The men were on inspection and the apprentices were all male. She notes playing tricks on girls and boys who were getting married and on new girls; wearing rollers to go out Friday nights. It was the’ best school’. The Club organised trips, Xmas parties for the children and the Miss Tock Tock competition. They had to clean everything when the manager came around. She moved to the car clock factory at Cae’r Bont then (c. 1985) – it was dirtier work. She stayed there 28 years.
Meriel left school at fifteen. She worked in a shop before going to work in the Tick Tock factory from 1955 until 1980, when the factory closed. She had to pass an eye-test to get the job, because making the watches was such intricate work. The factory was homely because they spoke Welsh. They weren’t allowed to speak when at work, but they did sing. She mentions the union and striking because of the heat and long hours. She describes teasing the men at Christmas, and the new apprentices; the Miss Tick Tock competition and the social life.
Catherine left the grammar school at 16 and after working in a shop, she, like everyone else in the area, went to work in the Tick Tock factory from c.1958 until she had her first child in 1967. She describes learning the craft of getting women’s watches to ‘breathe’ and teasing new girls. She recalls Christmas parties there when she was a child and buying watches cheaply. She talks about the role of the foreman – always a male. It was a clean and happy factory with lots of singing. She remembers both Welsh and English being spoken there and the family atmosphere.
Joyce left school at 15 (1947) and started at Tick Tock (1947-1962) – then 9 years ‘out’ with the children and returned for 17 years (1971-88). It was difficult to get in there – you had to pull strings. Making coils for aeroplanes. When they started making watches she went on inspection on the Anglo site - a beautiful dust-proof building. In the beginning she was too frightened to go to the toilet. The boys in the automatic department used to whistle. In the dust-proof area – special rubber shoes and overalls. Making c.3000 watches a day (setting them by hand), and on to a further 7 regulation racks before ready. She was also a floater. When the Enfield clock factory opened she trained for the swing shift (4.30-9.30), mainly married women –friction with day shift, because they were hitting targets. Marriages announced in Tick Tock magazine. Her husband was a shop steward with AEU. Strict rules – Personnel Officer. Back injury – because of factory? When she got married in 1951 her colleagues gave her an Enfield clock. Dancing classes, dances and trips. The new young workers (1980s) had no respect and used bad language.
The speaker describes her upbringing. She left school to work in Woolworths’ before moving to the Tick Tock factory (c.1958), where she earned ‘a lot of money’. She left when she became pregnant (c.1965). When the children were small she started at the Economics making drums for the Mond Works (c.1970-1). This was dirty work in noisy, poor conditions. She moved to Berlei’s to work in the canteen (c. 1971-81) and became the manageress. She describes buying bras for sixpence, timing toilet breaks, ‘top payers’, unionism, music, a trip with the Merthyr factory on the train to London. When the factory closed she went back to Tick Tock (Rover works) (1983-99). She became a supervisor and got her cap and gown for business management.
VSW045 Mary Lyn Jones, Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. (inc. Smith's Industries and Ingersoll aka 'Tick Tock'), Ystradgynlais
Mary left Pontardawe Technical College at 16 in 1960. After some years in David Evans’ shop she went to work in the watch casing department in Tick Tock (1963). She notes the rules in the gold shop and one serious accident on the presses. She was angry that the factory girls were not offered apprenticeships. It was useful to have relatives in the factory to get a job there. Unionism – she objected to contributing to the Labour Party. She describes the causes of a few strikes. She mentions the nurse and some minor accidents. She left in c.1968 because she wanted a career.