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Social Order

Rearrange these well known trades and professions into the social order of the 1950s (your parents' most respected ones first):

Plumber/ rag and bone man/ broadcaster/ nurse/ joiner/ policeman/ mill worker/ insurance man/ shopkeeper/ doctor/ newsagent/ journalist/ lorry driver/ airline stewardess/ rubbish collector/ department store worker/ newsreader/ (merchant)navy/ entertainer/ psychiatrist.

Re: Social Order

Rubbish Collector
Rag and Bone Man
Millworker
Joiner
Plumber
Dept Store Worker
Lorry driver
Insurance Man
Shopkeeper
Journalist
Nurse
Airline Stewardess
Newsagent
Merchant Navy
Entertainer
Newsreader
Broadcaster
POliceman
Psychiatrist
Doctor

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Social Order

Oops my post is in an upside down order. but it wouldn't let me edit !

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Social Order

Yes, Brian. The edit function seems to have vanished. I was going to edit to include politician, but it wouldn't let me....Anyway, good list. I wonder what others will come up with.

Re: Social Order

Certainly in general agreement with your listing, Brian, though I would have put policeman rather lower and air stewardess (the air-hostess as she then was) rather higher. In the fifties, there was still a lot of competition for the job of air-hostess in a very restricted market (pre-bucket shop airlines), and only "young ladies of the best sort" (only privately educated, finishing-school, university graduates and debs need apply...) tended to land them.

I think too, at the local level, the Mr Mainwarings of any small-to-middling size town were much respected, up there with the doctors, the solicitors, the clergy and, surprisingly, given their government-manufactured, abysmal standing now, schoolteachers.

An interesting exercise, Allan.

Doug

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Keswick, Cumbria

Re: Social Order

Allan - Any particular reason why you've omitted members of the Armed Forces (commissioned or otherwise)? Or, for that matter local government employees (above a certain level) who, I recall, were held in a certain level of esteem?

Current location (optional) Embsay Nr Skipton

Re: Social Order

No Brian - no reason. Just didn't think of them. Feel free to include them in the list your parents would have made! (Lots of other occupations I failed to include which may have ranked highly for my parents, secretary being one of them).

Re: Social Order

This is very difficult Allan.
I've searched my memory for things my father said regarding such occupations.
Maybe some of his views were dictated by whether he knew people in certain occupations, and whether he'd been employed in such occupations in the past (see "insurance man" - he had done this job and didn't rate the value of it too highly)..
Here's my rough guess at what he would have said.

Doctor
Broadcaster
Policeman
Newsreader
Entertainer
Nurse
Merchant navy
Joiner
Shopkeeper
Newsagent
Plumber
Department store worker
Journalist
Mill worker
Lorry driver
Rubbish collector
Insurance man
Rag and bone man

I've left out airline stewardess and psychiatrist since I'm not sure if we knew of the existence of such callings when I was a little lad.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Social Order

Surely, throughout the fifties, the pecking order was largely determined by category of job which, in turn, was largely determined by the rigid class system. At the top end, certain 'professions' still belonged mainly to the upper classes, the public school/Oxbridge route: stock-brokers, diplomatic service, broadcasters, lawyers, higher ranks in the armed forces etc. Others to people who had come through the grammar/private school system, but hadn't been able to go to university (unlike doctors, teachers in the 'better' schools): bank managers and cashiers in banks, building societies and so on, solicitors, secondary modern, infant & junior school teachers (college trained), nurses, many clergymen. Then came the self-employed such as small factory owners, shop-keepers, garage owners, farmers. Below them were the skilled workers (who had completed apprenticeships), semi-skilled workers, unskilled workers, factory workers and labourers. In the fifties, the effects of the 1944 education act had not yet begun to be felt. We who were educated in the late forties and fifties were the first to begin breaking down this rigid class/job system having the first opportunity ever on offer in British history of upward social mobility, which was built into the system. Only in the sixties and seventies did our presence begin to be felt in any numbers in the professions in particular. The fifties belonged, still, to the pre-War world.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Keswick, Cumbria

Re: Social Order

That's right Doug. There was a socially-determined, "accepted" hierarchy as you say. However Allan asked about what we recalled of our parents' views, which may, or may not, have been in tune with the class system as it was then perceived.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Social Order

I think my parents' list would have gone something like:

doctor/newsreader/policeman/broadcaster/airline stewardess/jentertainer/journalist/department store worker/nurse/insurance man/shopkeeper/newsagent/psychiatrist/(merchant)navy/joiner/lorry driver/joiner/mill worker/rag and bone man

By and large I agree with Doug's analysis. Any job where you 'got your hands dirty' was essentially inferior, in my parents' eyes, to white collar jobs. In our house, being an insurance man was considered a worthy occupation for some reason. I think ours gossiped about the neighbours, which gave him brownie points in my mother's eyes.

There are numerous professions missing from my impromptu list, notably lawyers and teachers. Teacher would have been very high up the list, probably right after doctor. Today's rankings would be different in many Keighley households, I imagine, and of course the list of jobs would have to include hairdresser, nail bar owner and tatooist.

Re: Social Order

I think the jobs in the upper echelons barely touched Keighley. The order of jobs only began with doctors, teachers, bank managers, then moved downwards. I think that in my family, which was definitely working-class, any job in which you didn't wear blue overalls or get your hands dirty was considered a cut above what most people in our street did. One young woman was a dentist's receptionist and she was thought to have a 'reight good job', as was being a secretary, working in a bank or an office, being 'one of't bosses at Trico', and so on. Expectations were low because of the nature of the town, it was still very much factory-based, with very many of the relatively few 'white-collar' jobs being direct or indirect spin-offs from that. What do people now work at in Keighley, I wonder?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Keswick, Cumbria

Re: Social Order

I don't think any particular social order would have occurred to my parents. They were working class, both left school at 14 and knew "their place" in Society. I am enclosing a small piece from my own "Aussie Memoirs" which I think illustrates the thinking of people of our parents vintage. Just to fill in gaps, I left home for Aussie with my parents blessing at the age of 17 looking for a better way of life than I could foresee in post war Yorkshire, rightly or wrongly. They followed me out with my siblings as assisted migrants about 18 months later in 1955. The following clearly illustrates how my dad thought. I had arranged for them to transfer their funds to a local bank in Geelong, by this time I was 19. Here we go-----------



I am going to relate an incident now which will illustrate the difference in attitudes between England and Australia in those days, and also how much I had developed in the 18 months I had been in Geelong. When dad and I went to visit the bank there was a short queue at the enquiry counter. We waited our turn and as the person in front of us finished and turned away, I stepped forward and said something like “right dad, it’s our turn.” Unbeknown to me, dad had stepped back to let a chap in a suit and tie go first. When I turned around and realised what was happening, I said to dad, “come on, it’s our turn now.” We finished our business and when we got outside dad said to me “don’t you ever do that to me again.” A bit bemused I had to ask “what have I done?” “You know, you embarrassed me in there when you stepped in front of that chap in the suit.” Then I realised where dad was coming from. I said to him “dad, you are in Australia now, it was OUR turn. Because he was wearing a suit it doesn’t give him priority over us.” In fact, I was also wearing a suit but that didn’t register with dad. We were still a working class family and someone wearing a suit was management or better off than us.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1947-51

Current location (optional) Orewa, NZ

Re: Social Order

Bill, that sounds very much like gut acceptance of a particular social order to me; the one your dad had recently left behind in Yorkshire. I sincerely hope he lived long enough to realise, as you had, that Australia was offering something quite different.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Keswick, Cumbria

Re: Social Order

Hi Doug. Thankfully he did live another 22 years down under and loved it and never regretted the move. He always accepted being a working class lad, but I know that quietly, he was very proud of how I got on in life. He found it hard to believe though, that his eldest son was on first name basis with a PM in NZ, who was a real working class chap who not only built his own house, he moulded and made the bricks to build it with. That was Norman Kirk of course. I remember saying to someone at the time, mid 70s, that only in NZ could it happen when I answered the phone in my office to hear voice "that you Bill, Norman Kirk here" etc etc. He was a champion bloke. Cheers.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1947-51

Current location (optional) Orewa, NZ

Re: Social Order

Doug - you were wondering what folk work at in Keighley nowadays. Well, yesterday I was driving from Edinburgh to Fife and found myself behind a lorry emblazoned with the legend 'Intelligent Logistics of Keighley'. So there's your answer. Intelligent Logistics - t'thinkin man's wagons!

Re: Social Order

Well, Allan, that reminds me that once or twice, recently, when driving through Keighley, I've found myself behind a wagon which tells us: 'From Yorkshire - supplying the whole of London'! So, far from what I expected, it does seem that t'owd place 'as really gone up i't'world. And we shouldn't forget 'Taylor's for Men of the Planet' at this juncture, either!

Doug

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Keswick, Cumbria