chapter  9
Pages 11

The typical Edwardian skilled worker stood between these groups. His earnings did not so much set him apart as allow him and his family to participate fully in working-class culture. He was, characteristically, either a miner, a textile worker, a building craftsman or an engineer. The miner was likely to have been the best paid, although he was not regarded as a craftsman, and the mining communities were socially egalitarian rather than exclusive. So to some extent were the textile districts, where the lower grades of workers were often women and teenagers from the families of skilled men. The building craftsman, although the worse paid and more vulnerable to unemployment, belonged to a traditional industry in which apprenticeship partly survived. He might represent the old craft culture, although bitter economic experience could give it a radical cast: as with Alice Richards’s father, at the end of this book. The engineer, although now usually a factory worker, learnt his trade through apprenticeship, and was well paid and relatively secure. For him the attitudes of the ‘labour aristocrat’ could still make good sense.