A True Story Of Emigration From The North
By ALFRED GROSCH
While there is much that is true and pleasant to read in "From North To South,by a Durham Miner, there is in actual fact much more that is also true, but far, less pleasant to r'ead which is not mentioned in the article. I frequently come across families stranded in London trying to live on the dole, who were on the same amount comparatively well off in the North. Here is one of quite recent date. Only the names are fictitious.
Dan Brennan and wife, George 18, Tom 16, Annie just on 14, and a baby corning. Dole 35s., rent of house including as much land as Dan could cultivate, 7s. 6d. a week. Coal cost about 8d. cwt.,. and Mrs. Brennan baked all the family's bread.
Mrs. Brennan worried Dan to sell up and come South. He declined. He could get an odd day in the pit now and then and considered that they were not too badly off. At length George, urged on by letters from other lads of the village, decided to follow them South, and Mrs. Brennan pawned her wedding ring to pay his fare. He departed and in less than a week secured work riding a delivery tricycle at 25s. a week. His board and lodging cost 22s. a week leaving him 3s., less National Health insurance, for clothes, boots, fags, pictures, etc. • . 4". 'A
Tom Follows George
Torn Was, at once fired with an urge to follow George, and by some miracle of scraping and saving Mrs. Brennan found his fare. He, however, being unused to London traffic, stepped off the kerb in front of an errand boy on a cycle and the result was a broken collar bone which put him in hospital. Mrs. Brennan at once packed off her husband on his bike to cycle the two hundred and sixty odd miles to London, giving him 5s. to see him through. She then set about selling up her home and when she had done so followed her husband.
As a special favour she obtained two bare top rooms in a dreary looking street at a rental, paid in advance, of 13s. 6d. a week. They had no beds or bedding and slept on the floor for a day or two. Then they obtained some on the hire purchase at a cost of 5s. a week, and so 18s. 6d. out of her 35s. was already mort gaged. Coal cost 2s. 8d. a cwt. Annie was placed in a factory near by, but owing to certain undesirable habits and language she picked up there Mrs. Brennan decided that the few shillings she brought in were not worth the risk to Annie, and so much against the girl's will she was placed • in domestic service at a very small wage.
Epilogue George got the sack from his job and couldn't get another, after some weeks he joined the army. Tom was discharged from hospital, unfit for work, and Dan couldn't get a job anyhow. He was only one of a large crowd at the employment exchange each day. When 1 called they were living on bread and treacle, pining for a cottage, for the North, and for a bit of land there with no hope of getting them.