My mother Sylvia Browne ( nee Austin), although an A student, was encouraged to leave school at 15 to work in the Mayfair factory in Portadown, which made clothing. She was an examiner and her sisters Jean and Lilian were stitchers. Her brother Billy started work at 14 in Spence Bryson s one of the linen manufacturers in Portadown where my grandfather Thomas Austin also worked. My uncle Billy worked there until he was 19 before he moved on to work for the local newspaper. He then went onto become a self employed graphic designer and artist.
My maternal grand father Thomas AUSTIN (1911-1982) started out with Spence Brysons straight after school in Meadow Lane, Portadown and then onto Markethill when Portadown closed. He started out as a weaver and eventually a cloth passer. I remember as a child him going to work and returning from Portadown to Markethill on his heavy black bicycle. Before retiring he had had a few mini strokes and still continued to cycle this distance despite his health.
Granda Austin front row far right with work colleagues in Spence Bryson.My maternal grandmother Mary Rebekah (nee Russell) worked in Spence Bryson in Portadown hem stitching where she stitched handkerchiefs. My mum remembers leaving primary school and sitting on a stool beside her mum until she finished work.