My memories of working for Mr Waite

Violet aged 17
Peter Beckley
Violet aged 99,looking fabulous
peter Beckley
Letter from Peter, Violet's son
Peter Beckley

When Violet Oliver celebrated her 99th birthday, last September, she shared some memories with her son Peter of when she worked for Mr Waite.

Mum started work the Gerrards Cross shop but soon transferred to the office, in the same building, as a cashier/book-keeper to Mr Waite’s secretary. She worked there for 2 and 1/2 years after leaving school aged 17.

Pay & hours worked

She earned 12s (shillings) 6d (old pence) per week, of which she gave 7s (shillings) to her mother for board. She worked six days a week, from 8.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m., including all day Saturday, with a half-day on Wednesday.

Getting to work

She cycled over 4 miles to work and back each day in all weathers.

Young thoroughbred

Mr Waite used to refer to her as his “young thoroughbred” as she was educated at Dr Chaloner’s Grammar School for girls at Amersham.


Her work uniform consisted of brown overalls with detachable cuffs and collar which were clean on each day to maintain a smart appearance.

Colleagues remembered

Mum remembers some of the staff names:

·       Mr Sprent – Manager

·       Miss Dickerson – Mr Waite’s secretary (?

·       Miss Mitchell – Head girl – book-keeping

·       Miss Roberts

·       Arnold – the butcher!

She left Waitrose when she moved to London in 1933.

Following in grandmother’s footsteps

Following in her grandmother’s footsteps, my daughter, Ruth Vail, left school and joined the John Lewis Partnership at Robert Sayle in Cambridge.  She is still employed by the Partnership at Peter’s local Waitrose branch in Newmarket – nearly 20 years.


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