Elsie Jakeman was born in Lower Cape, Warwick and cleaned at many places during her life including the Pump Rooms where, with her mother, had to scrub the mosaic tiles that ran, or indeed still run, the full length of the portico facing the parade. She also worked as a bar maid at several pubs including the Avenue Hotel and was serving behind the bar at the Lockheed Ballroom on the night of the Coventry Blitz in November 1940.
Elsie had to become the breadwinner during the depression of the 1930s when her husband lost his job. She still had her pride however, telling one “lady” in no uncertain terms that she was not prepared to clean under beds for 6d per hour that would cost her 8d!
Her last job was on the inspection at the Lockheed, finally retiring at the age of 74. She passed away in May 1987 at the Park View old folks home in Warwick. So despite living most of her long and eventful life in Royal Leamington Spa, she was actually born and died in Warwick.
She always seemed very stern when we were children but was always full of stories of the old days and the old characters of Leamington. She could remember when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to town and camped where the allotments are now along the Radford Road. Saying how strange it was to see Red Indians coming out of the Red House Inn. She could remember the troops being welcomed back from the Boer War and the parade. She could remember the cabman, whose name I think was Starkey, being killed when his horse threw him onto the railings that used to surround the trees near Euston Place during a thunderstorm. She could remember when there was an oak tree outside the Oak Inn.
This article is part of a collection of reminiscences held at Warwickshire County Record Office. The article is under reference CR4914/10, although it’s worth noting that some of the collection is unavailable for general access.