|The old Furniture Depository|
Stella joined Hawkers in 1941 having gone through the traumatic experience of being rescued from the rubble of her bombed home. She went to work as a typist in the Drawing Office, then located in the old Furniture Depository on the south side of Canbury Park Road.
Because you joined the company in 1941, wasn’t it?
November 1941, right so can you tell me about how you came to be working there?
Yes, I, well I left school because I, just after this traumatic experience I’d had, I really couldn’t concentrate, and I finally gave up. I wanted to go to University but I just, you know, I couldn’t concentrate so I went to work at, I had a friend who…
So you where actually ‘shell-shocked’?
Yes, badly I think, more than people think you know it just comes out. So I went back to Bentalls but, not for me. So I decided that everyone went to Hawkers, I would go to Hawkers. I wrote to them and had an interview and I had done a course at, not wanting to leave my education completely, I went three or four nights a week to the, what was the college, the technical college..
Oh, Kingston Tech.
Which became the Polytechnic in due course
That’s it yes.
And I went there for some years. I did a shorthand-typing course; I did a technical drawing course which I was hoping would get me into the Drawing Office. But I decided to join the WRENS before that came about. I learnt German and I did all sorts of weird things there. But it kept me thinking, you know. And I went into Hawkers and I loved it, I really loved it. We had a – as well as being a typist I was in charge of the filing system.
You actually joined Hawkers as a typist, didn’t you?
As a typist.
And which section was that you were working in?
In the Drawing Office.
Oh, so that was in the Drawing Office, right.
It was a set-up where the Drawing Office had all the big windows in the front. All the draftsmen. And then it was sort of open-plan and you came up from the Drawing Office and there was our little office.
There was …
The typist’s little office which – no end to it, it went into the Drawing Office. But it had a – one side had a wall and the other side was the Print Room which up one side, you know, was at the back of us. And so to get out the draftsmen all just walked through our office and out of the door.
So when you went there, this was in the Drawing Office, now that was in the Furniture Depository wasn’t it?
The old Furniture Depository.
The old Furniture Depository and that was – was on the south side of … [Canbury Park Road]
Looking over the railway line.
Looking over the railway line yes. That was an old, it was an old Bentalls building, I think.
It was Bentalls.
And that at some point had been taken over by Hawkers. Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like working in that building because it was not a purpose built building by any means was it? And I think Sidney Camm famously described it as an ‘inverted lavatory block’ at one point.
Well it wasn’t a very exciting building but I loved it and I think everyone was very happy there. And of course it did have – well – wide, wide, windows which was just what they wanted. They were working in daylight most of the time.
So it was open-plan and it had lots of outside light coming in so that would be very useful for…
Very good for the drawing.