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Oral History Summary – Emily Saville


Ref. No.    

Interviewees’ surname(s) Saville

Title: Mrs                                 

Interviewee’s forenames:  Emily

Gender:      Female     

Occupation: Retired Machinist                       

Date of Birth:  14th May 1923  Photo:


Date(s) of recording and tracks (from – to):  March 19th 2009 (tracks 1 to 4)

Location of interview(s): 129 Chadwell Heath Lane, Chadwell Heath                            

Name of interviewer:  Louise Joly

Interviewee’s background:  



Track 1

Sound check.

Track 2

(00:42) Emily Saville born in Forest Gate, 69 Neville Road on 14th May 1923.  Maiden name Bowers.  (01:25) Mum was Emily.  Dad was Herbert.  Mum was from Poplar, Dad was from Stratford.  Grandparents – all from the East End of London.  Parents lived in the East End all their lives.  Father worked for the railways and used to collect parcels from the Docks.  Emily one of three children.  Two brothers, one younger and one older.  Sister Shirley was born when she was 14.  (03:33) First memory – remembers the house when quite small.  Remembers the little Baptist church on the corner and sang “Away in a Manger” in front of 50 people aged 3 or 4 – in Forest Gate.  Went to school in Plashet Grove (or Road) - a big school.  Husband (Bill) was very much into Gandhi.  Returned to the school (in later life) for Bill to give a talk about Gandhi.  Remembers the feeling when started school at 4 – it was so huge.  Went back about 10-12 years ago. Bill was asked to do the lecture.

(6:00) Can’t remember much about the first school.  Moved to Dagenham aged 6.  First teacher was Miss Chennapa (check spelling) – she was black – not many black people seen in those days – wore a beautiful coloured dress.  Remembers being in the moving van when 6 years old.  The big adventure.  Lived 6 doors up from where Kingsley Hall is in Dagenham now.  Kingsley Hall was a field where we would play.  Emily went and saw the caravan (07:06).  There were ladies there who said they were going to have a Sunday school.  Mum insisted on Emily attending Sunday school at age 3.  Moved to Dagenham Emily went to a Church of England Sunday school- didn’t like it. When Emily heard there was going to be a Sunday school at KH in the field she went there instead.  80 years of Kingsley Hall.

The ladies were obviously Muriel and Doris Lester and Miss Pullen.  They were the Sunday school teachers.  It was just a tent and a caravan.  Mum said there were gypsies there who would take us away but they sang the same songs.  Posters up to say what was happening.  (08:45) Mum said Dagenham was like “Heaven with a gate open”.  She’d been in two rooms in Forest Gate with 5 in one room sleeping.  Describes the house in Bonham Road in Dagenham, the reasons for moving there and her mother’s feelings about it.  Moved there due to overcrowding.  Waited a long while to get a house.  Mum never regretted it.  Lived in Bonham road until age 15. LCC were building – you had to be a soldier to get a house.  Father was wounded in the war so they got a council house.  It happened to be the road next to Kingsley Hall and Emily started Sunday school.  

(10.24) Describes the building of Kingsley Hall Dagenham and the friendly atmosphere.  The first thing they built was a wooden hall.  It was called the old hall.  Play hour there after school.  (11:14) Told off by Sydney Russell for making noise.  Miss Bonnard was in charge.  Told to apologize.  Describes herself a noisy kid.  (12.13) KH was pacifist.  No Brownies – nothing to do with military.  Joined Brownies at another church.  Then left and joined the Guides – but didn’t like being the small girl being told what to do by the big girls.  So joined the Camp Fire girls aged 11.  (Provided the British Campfire Girls leaflet – stayed there until after John was born).  Aged 20 on the cover of the wartime survey– other person was Joyce.  Only met once since grown up.  It was different to Guides.  It was good as far as citizenship was concerned.  Nothing military about it.  Couldn’t do it during the war as the leader Mrs Bonnard (sic Barnard) was evacuated with the nursery school – she was the nursery school head.  (Looked at leaflets and picture of Muriel Lester).  The uniform was a coloured shirt and a brown tie (Microphone dropped off at 15.53 – but can still hear the sound in the background.)  Nothing to do with the military.  We got beads when we past a test.  Every bead meant something.  Ceremonial days – gowns were like the Indians wore.  Then you put the beads on the gowns.  There were symbols that meant something.  Emily enjoyed everything she did as a kid.

(16:50) Emily says she was good at school.  Discusses mother’s views on education of women.  Impact on Emily and her decisions re the education of her son John.  Describes husband’s education.  Emily and her husband Bill left school at 14 - the usual age.  Describes feelings about not being allowed to do the 11 plus examination and its impact on her later decisions.  Aged 10 – describes walking from Barking Park where they were building houses.  Went and looked at a show house with its serving hatch.  Aspirations to own a house like that – and mothers response.  (19:05) Significant moment that she decided she would buy a house.  When got married.  Bill in Air Force.  No idea where would live.  Offered accommodation in friends house as family had been evacuated and she had a room at 13 Balmoral Gardens in Seven Kings.  Later the husband at Balmoral Gardens died and Emily’s mother in law died.  Friend married Emily’s father-in-law and became her mother in law.  The war was on – lived in the back bedroom for 12 years.  Then the people downstairs decided to sell.  So Emily and Bill bought the house.  John was born in hospital in Stepney in the lying in home.  Emily knew he was clever when he was 6 years old.  Describes good behaviour of son when young – only child.  Decided not to have another child if did not have a house.  John was 8 when bought this house.  Husband Bill was the eldest of 3 boys and a girl.

(23.26) Left school at 14 in 1937.  Mother insisted Emily became a machinist in “The Castle” in Upton Park.  Describes benefits of being a machinist.  Enjoyed work. Stayed there until she was expecting John.  Stayed at home until he was 7.  (26:00) John’s first day at school, and when he went to University in 1965 to study cybernetics.  (28:11) Offered promotion and training as a supervisor of the machinists aged 44. Enjoyed this post and teaching.  Learned to drive.  Went to factories in Dagenham, Reading and Daventry to check the work.  (32:10). Aged 55 had enough of work, decided to stop, and never worked since then.  (33:09) Says she was unusual for a woman to go back to work having had a child, although had to do war work. Describes air raids.  Sister born in 1937 – worried about her in the air raids.  Used to go dancing at Kingsley Hall and walk home 2 miles in the air raids.  16 when war started.  Moved to Chadwell Heath near the station so easier for father to get the train.  (34:30) Describes how she met her husband Bill when the family moved to Chadwell Heath.  Went to the youth club, and Bill taught her to dance.  (36:00) Describes the beginning of the tea dance at Kingsley Hall Dagenham, discussions with Sydney Russell, and his concerns about money. Popularity of tea dance.  Bill ran it for 18 years – all the money went to Kingsley Hall (refers to certificate on the wall in house).  (39:10) The “This is Your Life” party for Emily and Bills 50th Wedding Anniversary.  Emily continued with the tea dance after Bill died, and continues today with the Tuesday afternoon dance.  Has been running over 25 years.  (42:00) Talks about neighbours, and all friends are related to Kingsley Hall.  Have holidays twice a year – next one is in Hayling Island.  (44:11) Talks about when Bill died.  Returns to when she met Bill, and their cycling trips and youth hostelling to Somerset.  Married for 57 years.

(47:12) Bills connections to Kingsley Hall in Bow.  Muriel Lester was good to the family – poor family.  Bill was tiny had to have radium/light treatment organised by Muriel.  Muriel offered Bill training for the church.  Bills father would not allow it.  When Gandhi came to Bow, Bill would get up at 5am and go for a walk.  Bill wrote an essay when he was 10 years old, which was published (interviewer reads out the essay).  They went for walks around the canals.  (50:00) Emily met Gandhi at Kingsley Hall Dagenham when she was 8 on a Monday so he didn’t talk.  He wrote: “Love surrounded me here” That’s how I feel about Kingsley Hall.  The whole family was involved.  (51:34) Recording stopped.

Track 3: (00.25) Reasons why Bill moved from Bow to Dagenham.  (1:08) Started Young Mums group at Kingsley Hall Dagenham.  (1:45) 2007 spent two weeks with Sydney Russell school teaching the young people dancing, and learning how to do graffiti. (04.30) Significant people connected to Kingsley Hall.  Arthur Durrant who started an exchange programme with German youth in 1947.  Bills’ young sister went to Germany and swapped places.  Still friends with them.  Still goes on but taken over by Dagenham Council.  Emily wasn’t involved as John was born.  Kingsley Hall Dagenham had first nursery school in Essex.  German Youth Exchange started to help be free of war.  Bills sister is still in contact with her German friend.  (08.19) Recording stopped.

Track 4: (00.10) Mother was in the Women’s Fellowship – this is how she knew Gandhi was coming.  Mother born in Poplar, Mile End Road – were the sort of people who were always moving until they moved to Dagenham. She had a sad life.  She was never late.  Mum lived on the other side of Chadwell Heath. Dad was a quiet man. Dad didn’t take part in Kingsley Hall – he was working and didn’t get home until 9pm.  Emily’s sister was born when mum was in her 40s.  Her opinion is quite different.  Maybe due to the parents being older.  She didn’t belong to Kingsley Hall, and didn’t have the same connections.  She lives in Rayleigh now.  She has had a different life to Emily.  (5.52) Dad - born 1891- lived for his work, and died aged 77.  He saw John get his degree.  At that time Dad found out that Emily’s mother wouldn’t let her sit her 11 plus exam.  Mother made all the decisions, and managed the house.  Now Emily helps with the jumble sales at Kingsley Hall – but will not sell clothes.  (09:00) Emily’s father was in active service in WW1 – wounded at the Somme.  The last one alive in the trenches.  Mother was engaged to his cousin – but he was killed.  Mother visited the family and met father.  (10:00) The influence of Kingsley Hall and campfire girls – it was a training.  (10:47) New minister now at Kingsley Hall - Mike.  Bill is buried at Kingsley Hall in the rose garden.  (12.28) Copyright clearance form.  (16.33) End.