Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Duchess of York in Market Harborough, 1927

Now that British Pathé has put much of its archive on Youtube, you can see more easily what I was blogging about in 2009 - a video of the Duchess of York visiting Market Harborough in 1927 to open a "training hostel for women household workers for Australia".:
The Duchess may not have been there to open the establishment, as an Australian government website suggests: 
British women and girls were encouraged to migrate to Australia to support its development as domestic servants and as wives and mothers – between 1926 and 1930 the Australian and British governments jointly funded a specialised centre, the first of its kind, at Market Harborough, England, to train women for domestic service prior to migration to Australia. You can even see pictures of the place towards then of this PDF of the pamphlet Australia invites the British domestic girl from 1929. 
But the establishment did not close in 1930. A Commons written answer from 1931 reveals that there were five government-run establishments for training domestic servants. They included The Elms, Market Harborough. 
Today The Elms is known as Brooke House and occupied by a college that specialises in giving overseas teenagers British qualifications. We called it a "crammer" when I was at school up the road, but that may have been unfair. 
When I was a councillor in the 1980s one of my fellow Liberals reported canvassing an old lady who mentioned disparagingly that one of the Tory candidates has attended an establishment in the town that trained girls to be servants. It must have been The Elms.
The Duchess of York was later to become Queen Elizabeth and later the Queen Mother.

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