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Lizzie Holmes (1893-1979)


The first woman in Horden to wear trousers


In her own words Lizzie Holmes was “rough and ready me”. Three years before her death she gave an oral history interview as part of the Easington People Past and Present project. The recording and transcript provide an amazing glimpse into the social history of the area at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Lizzie was left an orphan and was farmed out first to her grandfather and then her aunt. Before she was legally allowed to leave school, at the age of thirteen, Lizzie was already angling for a job. Her elder sisters worked at the ropery in Hebburn so she dodged the “Kiddy Catcher” (the local education board inspector) to get herself a job too, which she promptly lost for beating up a bigger and older lad!

She married in 1913 to her childhood sweetheart, Jimmy Holmes. At fourteen she had had his name tattooed on her arm so she was pretty certain that they would end up together! When her husband went off to war Lizzie got herself a job working in the coke ovens at Horden. The work was hard and dangerous but Lizzie took it all in her stride. She would often be the one called on to shift hundredweight bags of cement.

While at the coke ovens she joined the women’s football team there. You can hear her account of this by scrolling down to the “Supporting Material” link at the bottom of this page.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01wvlky

http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/2075/People-Past-and-Present-Archive

http://collections.beamish.org.uk/search-results?query=holmes&searchType=audio&go.x=0&go.y=0

Civil Parish: Easington

Birth date: 1893-Apr-15

Death date: 1979-Sep

Armed force/civilian: Civilian

Residence: 195 William Street, Hebburn (1901 census)
16 Alice Street, Ryhope (1911 census)
Second Street and Eighth Street, Horden (oral history)

Employment: hemp factory, domestic service, cake shop, coke ovens, cleaner

Family: Parents: George Wilson, Fanny Wilson
Siblings: Robert Wilson, Alice Wilson, Florence May Wilson, George Wilson (1901 census)
Husband: James (Jimmy) Holmes
Children: Florence Holmes, Jack Holmes, Sidney Holmes (oral history)

Gender: Female

Contributed by Durham County Record Office