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Violet Grove

by her Daughters, Christine White and Sandra Hanshaw

Our Mum, Violet Lilian Lloyd, was born on 29th December 1923 in Bow. She started working at the Bryant and May factory in Fairfield Road when she left school at the age of 14 in 1937. Although there weren’t the perils of ‘Phossy Jaw’ by that time as it was illegal to use white phosphorus anymore, she only worked there for six months, saying it was too dangerous.  


When war broke out, Mum joined the Women's Land Army, and went from Bow to a very rural farm in the country, where she tended the land and learned to drive a lorry (we still can't get out heads round that!) and in the winter, she had to light a small fire under the lorry to defrost it, as it wouldn't start.


After the war, Mum married our Dad, Arthur Robert Grove on 3rd August in 1947 in Bow Church and they had us two girls.


Mum then went back to work at the Bryant and May factory in the early sixties and got jobs for her friends there. She worked with Alfie Parr, Olga Lynn, Alice Snoddy, Ginny Carly and Julie Reed. They got on the bus every morning early, from Poplar to Bow. Violet was well liked and there was lots of laughing with the boys and girls.

She worked with a number of interesting characters. There was a lady who looked after the cleaning and the toilet, known only as ‘Docker Nell’ and the singer from ‘Mungo Jerry’ worked under Violet’s supervision.


A highlight of working at the factory was when, as a Supervisor, Mum got to meet the Queen when there was as Royal visit in the late sixties. Another interesting, if frightening incident was when one day a young girl caught fire, Mummy took her to hospital and stayed with her all night. She was badly burnt but it wasn’t life threatening. Mummy took up her case and the girl got compensated.


Treatment of staff at the factory was vastly improved compared to the times before the 1888 Strike – every year Bryant and May put on a pantomime and children's Christmas party with great presents. They also had an annual dinner and dance. The workers had the chance to work an extra half hour per day and finish early on a Friday. Then they all went up Chrisp Street market in Poplar to shop, pre-supermarkets of course. They had a great canteen too, having breakfast and lunches.


When Mum’s first Grandchild, Lucy (Christine’s daughter), was born, she bought a 'Sweep' teddy (of Sooty and Sweep fame) which is still in the family. After a long and happy life, Mum died on 3rd April 2011.

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