Interview: working lives, responsibilities and relationships of Women in North Devon
To Celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve selected photographs and quotes from interviews with women connected to the photos in the Beaford Archive. Together they offer a unique insight into the working lives, the responsibilities and the relationships of women in rural North Devon in the 70s and 80s.
If you have thoughts, comments and memories you’d like to share, please add a comment below and help us build on this ever-evolving record of Rural North Devon.
‘The big thing was the disparity between women living in urban areas, and women living in rural areas, and the lack of opportunity, for rural women…. but it was not only a lack of opportunity, often attitudes were such that, that really wasn't what women should be doing, or you know, sometimes it wasn't so strong… but it was more just an acceptance that actually women were needed in the household, their roles were best served in the household.’
’But of course things changed quite rapidly… I think particularly in rural areas where there was accessibility. The key was sort of the transport …getting out of the village, then would open up opportunities…’
‘I must have been brought up differently…I went out to work. I was told I couldn't come on the farm, you're out to work. So I worked at a factory in the office, which made fire engines, air crash tenders and vacuum gully emptiers. So I went from working in administration, accounts, purchasing, to receptionist..’
‘When I was young, a lot of the daughters were expected to stay 'ome, I couldn't wait to come home on the farm, I didn't want to do anything else.’
‘Where as my Mum, she always worked home….she’ did actually…she made the money, she did all the milking,…did the poultry, did this, whereas Dad trundle round on his tractor. This farmer comes up in front …wife behind, doing all the slugging work!’
‘A lot of wives took in visitors in the Summer and that made a huge difference, and they took a lot of visitors, they did a job really well.’
‘Women did farming, the house work, the home, the cooking, the lot actually. The men did the farming, but the women did it as well. They were milking, and all sorts, yes, and getting breakfast ready and elevens's for when they came in and then lunch, [tea, high tea, supper] Women actually did it all.’
‘And of course that became important sometimes if the farm was, say with milk quotas or something when some farms suddenly had a really drastic decline in their income, then suddenly women's, the work that women did was you know much more important, much more central to the business.’
‘And often of course the daughters were not expected to go off and marry because they were expected to look after the elderly parents, and I know many like that of course. The men didn't go off and marry often either, didn't always, I remember many single, yes, but the daughters were expected to stay home and care for lady, yes.... And it was the youngest.’