Work in the Fields

Reading ‘Big Pat’ Jennings’ story takes me back!  I focus especially on how he and his family earned money; doing various little jobs just to earn a few bob.

We were all engaged in similar pursuits;

messenger boys,

running errands;

picking blackberries;

selling sticks;

potato, strawberry or raspberry picking.


It would be advantageous if you were lucky enough to possess ‘a cart’ (soap box) for with that, you graduated to such jobs as collecting bushels of coke from ‘the Gasworks’.

Your customers were usually neighbours or local shopkeepers.   Two of my regulars were Tommy Roe, the ‘Boot Mender’ and Jack McAteer the ‘Petrol Garage Owner’, both located in Lower William Street.One particular favourite job every Thursday was herding the cattle or sheep onto the docked ship (usually ‘The Dundalk’) in the Albert Basin. 

At the end of the day, when the Dockers collected their wages from the ‘Steam Packet Office’ each man would produce a ‘three penny bit’ from his pay packet, hand it to the foreman who in turn would distribute the total fairly amongst us kids. 

These types of jobs were ‘Little Earners’ which were often spent on ‘treats’.  (My own favourites were ‘Wagon Wheels’ and choc ices). 

Then of course were the seasonal jobs which were ‘Big Earners’. These ranged from potato picking (Spring and Autumn crops) and the less remunerative but lighter Summer crops, strawberry and raspberry picking. 

For ‘potato picking’, (that was a ‘backbreaker’) the normal rate was 12 shillings per day (

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