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I spent last weekend in Shropshire on the border of Wales, where my great great great grandfather and his father came from. My mother has researched our family history and I was struck by the changing pattern of employment in our family reflecting the history of this country. My great great great great grandfather was an agricultural labourer working at a farm in Shropshire. His son was a miner. Presumably that meant more money but a shorter life. He moved firstly to Walsall and then to Hyde in Cheshire presumably for work and better prospects but we don't know how he moved that great distance. Did he walk or as it was the early years of the railways, did he have the money to travel by train? Either way, he was prepared to travel far further than a lot of people today to find work.
My grandfather was a welder. This was the height of manufacturing in England and during the war he welded pieces for Spitfires. My mother remembers him working such long shifts during the war that he would fall asleep taking his socks off!
My mother as the daughter of working class parents benefited from Balfour's Education Act, which for the first time gave free grammar school education to those who couldn't afford it, as did my father. My mother became a teacher, which was seen as a step up the social ladder for someone from her background. It was also one of the few opportunities open for bright girls like her at the time. The others were nursing, being a librarian or a secretary.
Her daughter, me, now runs her own business, has foreign holidays and owns her own property and car. It made me wonder what my great great great great grandfather would say if he could compare his lifestyle with mine. It also made me wonder where we shall all be in four generations time. How jobs will have changed by then and whether we shall have continued our climb or be going backwards? It is certainly quite incredible to me that in a mere four generations, our family has prospered the way it has.. Part of it has been down to politicians with vision, who did the right thing to help the working class escape from their social situation and part of it has been down to individuals seizing those opportunites.
I sincerely hope that today's politicians at some stage can offer a strong vision for the future so that ordinary people can continue to progress.
Have a good week.