Working Lives

A twentieth century oral history of work & industry in Nuneaton and Bedworth.

Bowler hats, fezzes, Concorde’s nose, sheepskin coats, banners, ribbons, chimney pots, drainage pipes, shoes, bricks for the Empire State Building, car parts, needles, knickers – all made in Nuneaton and Bedworth throughout the 20th century. The memories of people involved have been recorded and made available for all.

Do you have information we can add to the Working Lives web pages? Maybe you can identify someone in the photographs or have a photograph that we could add to the website? If you do, please contact Nuneaton Library.

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View this photo gallery on Flickr

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The coal, clay, and stone found in Nuneaton and Bedworth were key to the development of industry in the area. By the late 19th century, many brickworks, quarries and factories had developed and were transporting the goods they made all over the country via the canal, road and rail networks. These industries in turn attracted workers and their families to this part of Warwickshire.

Ribbon weaving had long been an important industry in the area, and a skilled workforce developed in Nuneaton and Bedworth. This workforce was later employed in the large textile factories within the towns and the hosiery factories in neighbouring Hinckley.

During and after the Second World War, many engineering firms, particularly those in the car and aeronautical industries, relocated to the area from Coventry.

Until recently, many of these industries were still visible in Nuneaton and Bedworth, however, in the last thirty years they have declined. The brickyards, hosiery and garment factories have disappeared whilst the engineering firms have either closed or relocated out of town. Quarrying continues but with a much reduced workforce.

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Book – ‘Memories of Work and Industry in Nuneaton and Bedworth’

The A4 soft backed book contains over 65 pages of colourful text, quotes and illustrations with a sampler CD of interviews. The book retails at £7.99 and is available at the following libraries:

Contact Nuneaton Library for your copy. There is an additional cost of £2.50 for postage and packing within the UK.

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Teaching pack

An exciting teaching and learning resource, based on the Working Lives project, for teacher’s to use in schools with Key Stage 2 children

  • easy to use lesson plans, based on the primary framework for literacy and the National Curriculum area of History
  • oral histories
  • photos
  • copyright free local maps

All of the Working Lives material is available for use in schools and is free to download.

Working Lives: Teaching And Learning Resource Introduction (PDF, 1.09 MB) – introduction, background and contents

Using Working Lives for literacy

  • Lesson 1 – listening to Oral Histories and developing your own questions
  • Lesson 2 – creating your own oral histories archive

Working Lives Lesson Plans – Using For Literacy (PDF, 270.65 KB)
Working Lives: Resources For Literacy (PDF, 234.78 KB)

Using Working Lives for what was It like to live here in the past

  • Lesson 1 – what is our area like today and how did it look in the past?
  • Lesson 2 – what do buildings tell us about the past?
  • Lesson 3 – different types of industry?
  • Lesson 4 – presentation

Working Lives: Lesson Plans – What Was It Like To Live Here In The Past (PDF, 282.21 KB)
Working Lives: Resources Part 1 – What Was It Like To Live Here In The Past (PDF, 2.9 MB)
Working Lives: Resources Part 2 – What Was It Like To Live Here In The Past (PDF, 207.5 KB)
Working Lives: What Was It Like To Live Here In The Past Maps 1 (PDF, 24.04 MB)
Working Lives: What Was It Like To Live Here In The Past Maps 2 (PDF, 27.88 MB)

Support materials

  • places to visit
  • glossary of terms
  • notes on three local companies

Working Lives: Teaching And Learning Resource Support Materials (PDF, 476.51 KB)
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Conditions of use and statement of liability

Conditions of use

All Working Lives interviews and text are the copyright of Warwickshire County Council. They are available to use for personal study or classroom activity only. When you download any of these interviews, either as a summary, transcript or audio file, you agree to abide by these conditions. If you intend to use them for any other purpose please contact Nuneaton Library & Information Centre.

Statement of liability

Warwickshire County Council do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness, factual correctness or reliability of any information contained and do not accept any liability for any errors or omissions including inaccuracies or typographical errors. The opinions expressed by the interviewees are their own personal opinions and not necessarily those of Warwickshire County Council.

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