THE NEW WORKERS AT EVESHAM
A correspondent contributes the following article to the “Times”: -
In the golden light of the late afternoon a girl walked quickly across the old market-place of Evesham with a stride which was neither of the country nor the town. She wore a black waterproof hat, modelled in the fashion of a sou’-wester, and from underneath its upturned brim wisps of straw-coloured hair rippled as they caught the light breeze. Her heavy boots and leggings were smeared with soil, and a short smock which only partly covered a brown jersey and knickers, also showed the stain of the fields.
The fruit grower and market gardener with whom I was chatting told me that the girl was one of his workers returning to her lodgings after a day spent in an Avonside orchard. “She’s been grafting Victorias on to wild plum trees,” he said. “She was an actress before she came to me from the National Land Council, but she’s taken finely to her work here. I’ve a score of these ladies on my land now. There’s a general’s daughter and a doctor’s daughter among them, and you can’t say anything about them that’s too good.”
Market gardening and fruit farming have been found wholly suitable labour for this superior type of women worker. Local women of the industrial class have always been used to picking fruit, peas, and beans in the summer months, but they could not easily be trained to the more skilled work of the nurseries and orchards. My companion, Mr George Jones, who cultivates 500 acres of land near Evesham, and last year won the championship cup for market gardening, said to me:
“They don’t want showing every few minutes. You have only to teach these ladies how to do a thing – it may be rose budding, or fruit grafting, or planting of rose trees, or asparagus cutting – and they can go on doing it. Some that came to Evesham three months ago are now instructing new arrivals, and only the other day a farmer came round and offered one of my girls double her money to go to him.”