A Corner of the Vineyard
by Denise Johannsen
by Denise Johannsen
Lily of the Valley
Men in cloth caps and scarves, women with shawls wrapped around their shoulders, the sound of the clogs clip clopping on the pavement, sirens blaring; yes, the 5:30 a.m. ritual was still there. Men and women going through the same repetitive motions that had been their daily routine for the inhabitants of Blackburn and, indeed, for the rest of the north of England for the past hundred years. One thing was thankfully missing--the little ones. Child labour had been abolished in the earlier part of the century. They now had to stay in school until they were 13 years of age. In the last term of their education, they were allowed to have either the morning or the afternoon off to work at their future profession, so they could begin to learn their trade.
[The] Early 1900s saw the demise of the cotton mills, as they experience another slump in the market. A majority of the work force were on half time. The sight of a mill on almost every street corner was soon to become a thing of the past, never to return.
1914 came the outbreak of World War I, which was to be salvation to the mills that were left. To meet the demand, they were working flat-out; so too were the other industries in the town. With full time employment again, people could afford to buy necessities., emphasising 9c on "necessities," as luxuries were still beyond the reach of ordinary man and woman.
Living conditions had improved slightly. 1911 saw the introduction of the "Council House." These houses were built with proper sanitation, and installed with electric lighting, also with a bathroom. Terraced houses in the main, still did not have any of these modern facilities.
|Council houses aren't much different today. Some of the old ones are still being used.|
With the young men off to the front to fight, it meant that women were needed in industry. After the war, which ended in 1918, women who were now enjoying the freedom of the vote, and better wages, stayed in the factories. This consequently left the wealthy with staff problems as many [workers] were never to go back into [their] service.
Emigration was still popular as thousands left these shores in search of a better life. So too, the Latter-day Saints were flocking to Utah, Blackburn saints among them.
The members of Blackburn Branch were now in a three-story building adjacent to the Cathedral. The actual year they moved into the building is not know. Lily Smith, a member at that time, recalled that she was baptized in 1916 at the age of sixteen years, and they were using it [the building] then.
Lily was a wonderful lady who passed away at the age of 91 in 1993. She was small in stature, but very tall in character, with a quiet, sweet voice, and a sweet nature to match--very spiritual and a great example to all. Lily glorified the flower from whence she was named, and must have adorned this part of the Lord's vineyard with all the splendour of the true Lilly of the Valley. If only the opportunity had been taken whilst she was alive, to glean information from her, of this period in the branch's history. A much more colourful picture could have been painted, and the many grey areas eradicated.
The missionaries lived in the house with Lily's family and that is how her family came to be baptized. Lily's sister, Dolly, recalls she was five years old when the family joined the Church. She remembers the persecution towards herself and her family, which was still going on. She remembers windows being smashed, and her father being subjected to grouse indignities at the hands of some of the thugs.