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Melksham Probus

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The December meeting of Melksham Probus took place in the Kings Arms on 1st December.

After yet another nourishing lunch followed by bread and butter pudding, we had another eye opening  account of life in the East End of London by Martin Collinson.

Work started back in 1860 when Martin’s grandfather was born. When he started work it was as a Fancy Box Cutter, the boxes were used to hold perfume bottles. After 56 years he then went to work on fishing trawlers and died in 1949. He was married twice and sired 22 children, some with another woman whom he did not marry. Of the 22 children five died early on.

Poverty was terrible. The Very Poor Act and The New Poor Act came into being between 1601 and 1882. In 1900, Bryant and May built the largest factory making matches and employing 2000 women and  children, Soup kitchens and work houses started in 1903.

Many immigrants, Huguenots and Chinese, worked in the area and gang warfare started with the locals. Besides  many  gangsters such as The Krays, Sir Alan Sugar opened his first stall and Jamie Oliver’s grandfather was landlord of The 10 Bells public house.

Brian Jennings gave a vote of thanks for an interesting look back in time.