Years in service: 29 years
Role: Silk Weaver at Stephen Walters
Phyllis Goody’s story began before she left school. She was the oldest of three children, two girls and one boy and her father worked as a farm labourer. One summer towards the end of August her father was working late with other labourers to gather in the sheaves of ripened corn, loading them onto a horse drawn cart. As they worked their way across the field the horse stepped into a wasp nest, disturbing the swarm. The labourers working alongside Phyllis’s father took off to avoid being stung, but Phyllis’ father stayed to release the horse from its harness so it too could escape. Unfortunately, this decision was to prove fatal and Phyllis’s father died in the field from the vicious wasp attack.
Within weeks Phyllis found herself at Gainsborough Silk Weaving looking for work to help her mother feed the family. It was 1937 and she was just 14years old. The hours were long and with very little money, she would cycle home every lunchtime to share whatever scraps were available, much of which was ‘found’, poached rabbits, pheasants and fruit from local orchards.
Now 95 years old Phyllis remembers some of the characters that worked in the mill at the time, Jappy Earl with his clay pipe, that he used to smoke upside down and which one day set fire to the cloth he was weaving. She remembers just a few months after starting work, one day carrying a tray of perns across the mill floor and as she passed a fellow worker more than twice her age, he squeezed her bottom. She ignored it until a few days later, he did it a second time. She put down her tray and looked directly at the older man, telling him that if he did that to her again, she would hit him with whatever she had in her hand at the time. This man never touched her again and they went on to become good friends.
Phyllis remained in the mill for 2 more years until the outbreak of WW2 and met George Goody who would become her husband. Phyllis herself preferred the outdoor life and while George progressed to a become an experienced weaver working for Gainsborough Silk Weaving until his death in 1987, Phyllis opted for the fruit farms, becoming brown as a berry picking fruit.