Daisy Dobbs is a very bright girl. She can read and work out difficult sums in her head. Daisy has just started working as a scullery maid in a grand house owned by two ladies, the Misses Simms. Daisy grew up in a time when many children had to go to work, not to school. Even if children stayed on in school the curriculum was often limited to basic arithmetic and spelling. The lowest paid job in a household was that of a scullery maid, who would be expected to work very long hours, and take on gruelling tasks such as scrubbing and polishing. Daisy might have earned around £12 a year (about £1,200 today). 

Mum works very hard to support her family. She has no choice but to help Daisy get a job. Life in London during this time was often difficult for working class families. Although some reforms were made towards health benefits and pensions, children from families with less money might only go to school for half the day, and then have to work for the rest of it. At this time, it was legal for children as young as 12 to start full time employment. 

The Twins are Daisy’s two younger brothers. They miss her terribly when she is away. Girls such as Daisy would have often had to stay at home to look after their younger siblings while their parents worked. Since there were not many cars on the roads, children often played games in the street outside their house. This was a great place to play with marbles and wooden hoops, because there was more space than inside. For poorer children, toys like skipping ropes, wooden spinning tops, yo-yos and crayons were very common.

 The Twins

Ellen is the parlour maid in the house. She is forever running up and downstairs to fetch things for the ladies.  Cook works on the big, hot kitchen range, baking cakes and preparing meals for the ladies of the house. The domestic staff of a house would have to work very long days. As you could not get hot water out of a tap, the kitchen range would have to be lit as early as 5am so that there would be hot water for the rest of the day. In most houses, there would be a washstand in the bedroom with a built-in sink or bowl, and the staff of the house would bring the heated water upstairs for the mistresses and masters of the house to wash with in the morning.

 Ellen and Cook

A typical kitchen range

A picture of a typical kitchen range

Miss Jessie Simms is an older lady who lives in a refined house. She compliments Daisy on her work. Miss Margaret Simms is Miss Jessie’s sister, and also lives in the grand house. Even though Miss Jessie and Miss Margaret were fortunate to live in a grand house, they would not have been able to vote. In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst recruited women to campaign for women’s votes, and these campaigners became known as the suffragettes. When the First World War started, the campaign for women to vote was scaled down, and many women took on industrial jobs to support the country during the war. After the war women who owned property and were over 30 were given the right to vote, and ten years later all women over 21 were given the right to vote.

Miss Jessie and Miss Margaret

Miss Mabel Simms is the niece of Miss Jessie and Miss Margaret Simms, and is visiting her aunts in time to see the coronation celebrations. Miss Mabel is from America, and would have travelled to London on a ship that sailed across the Atlantic. These enormous ships were called liners, and they usually carried 1,500–2,000 passengers. 

Miss Mabel Simms