Upon completing his apprenticeship Charlie was unable to find work. Much later (unfortunately this piece is undated) he wrote about his period on The Dole and the hardships that he endured at that time. It is difficult, whilst reading this, not to draw some parallels with the present situation in Britain where so many young people are currently experiencing difficulties in finding work.
It is rather difficult to unravel the dates in this piece. Charlie says that upon completing his apprenticeship at the age of 21 (1926?) he was out of work for 2.5 years. The way the piece is written it seems that this period of unemployment came to end when he finally found work at the new Ford’s factory in Dagenham. Yet we know that he started work there in May 1933 – some 7 years later. Maybe as we read more of his writing from those intervening years he will shed some more light onto what he was doing during this period.
I found this rather marvellous painting by Terence Cuneo of the Dagenham works on the Bonhams website. As yet I haven’t tracked down whether I am permitted to use this image (still working on it) so I may have to take it down. But in the meantime it is such a great picture that I simply couldn’t resist using it for now.