Nostalgia: ‘It was a good job and it was good pay’

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Charles Hamilton, known as Chuck, talks about leaving school and getting a job at a carpet factory in Bonnyrigg.

Chuck, who celebrated his 100th birthday in March, was born in Dalkeith and has lived in Lasswade or Bonnyrigg his whole life.

He said: “I left school at 13 and I went and got a job at a carpet factory called Henry Widnell And Stewart to work as a weaver.

“It was a good job and it was good pay, although it wasn’t the healthiest job.

“Sometimes it would be busier than others – if you had a quiet week you had to look for something else to do, picking potatoes or helping with the harvest.

“They had two factories, one in Bonnyrigg and one at Eskbank.

“Bonnyrigg had the one with the small looms and Eskbank had the ones with the bigger looms. The looms were kept well apart from each other so you didn’t really have a chance to speak to people while you were working, but you knew everyone there. There must have been about 100 people working there.

“At the end of the year they would hold a big dance for the workers, they called it the factory dance.

“The factory had a great big showroom in Bonnyrigg, it was bigger than a ballroom and they held it there.

“It was paid for by the company and there was a committee of workers that ran it.

“People used to really look forward to it.

“They used to have a beauty queen competition – I know there are a couple of women who still live in Bonnyrigg who won it.

“I ended up staying at the factory for 40 years.”

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