And last month it was Edna’s birthday. She was 90 years old. So here is a bit about Edna – about where she grew up and where she worked. Edna was born in Highbury in 1922. After her father died suddenly, and tragically, the family moved in with her grandmother, Nelly Pearson, in Wharton Street. Edna’s two aunties were already living in the same large house. Moving in with her grandmother is Edna’s most vivid memory of her childhood. The family lived with her for many years. Edna remembers the long garden with rabbits and chickens at the end of it. She remembers that she had to help her grandmother round the house.
Edna said, ‘My grandmother looked after us when my mother went to work.’ Edna’s paternal grandparents lived in a different area so she had little contact with them. Edna’s maternal grandfather worked for the City police. (Interestingly Edna’s nephew works for the police force now.) Edna’s mother was called Ivy Glen. Her father had had his own business in the City. He was a Hatter.
Edna’s earliest memory is going to school at Amwell Street, Clerkenwell Parochial, when she was 5 years old. It was a mixed school and she went with her brother, John Arthur William, who was two years older. John used to walk Edna to school. Edna’s favourite subject at school was sewing in fact she loved sewing. And so when she left school in 1936, aged 14, her mother helped her find an apprenticeship to a dressmaker. The pay was 7s and 6d a week. When her apprenticeship came to an end Edna worked full-time at Marshall and Snellgove on Oxford Street. Every morning she’d take the no.19 bus from Rosebery Avenue to Oxford Street.
Edna explained that all the fine work was done by hand. In her 20s, she went into the theatre as a Fitter for a little while working at Berman and Nathan who made clothes for the film industry.
Edna went to work for Hardy Amies in Saville Row on the ballgowns. Her boss was called The Hand. Edna said that Hardy Amies was a ‘very nice man.’
Edna worked her way up to become a Gown Hand at Hardy Amies where she was treated with a lot of respect.
Edna made her own clothes and clothes for her family including the wedding dresses and continued to work after she got married. She loved the whole of her working life and retired in 1989 from Hardy Amies.
And just for the record Edna’s favourite part of London is Oxford Street.
Best advice Edna received in the course of her career:
Look after yourself and behave yourself.
What advice Edna would give a young person just starting out on their career?
Work hard and enjoy what you’re doing.