E.J. Rudsdale Talk

I will be giving a talk as part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival on E.J. Rudsdale's Journals, entitled 'Creating History: A Civilian's Experience of the Second World War in Essex' on Thursday 30th October from 7.30-9.00pm at Anglia Ruskin University. Tickets are free. Book your ticket here. Many thanks, Catherine Pearson

18th March 1942

Long talk with Poulter tonight about Museum affairs. We have done this without any obvious benefit many times before. P. still insists that Hull is immovable for another 25 years, and that our affairs will become steadily worse. I still cannot believe this. I cannot believe that any Corporation Committee will be prepared to put up with present conditions for more than a year or two after Gurney Benham’s retirement or death. P. thinks that after Gurney has gone an effort will be made to reduce the Museum to a nonenity, and it will only exist as an appendage of either the Public Library or the Borough Engineer’s Department. Of course, it is impossible to prophesy what effect the war may have on the Museum, (quite apart from possible destruction).

Am I to stay at this moulding, decaying institution for ever, and watch it become more and more motheaten and filthy? I feel I cannot do it. I would rather, at the end of the War Agricultural Committee job, (if it ever does end) leave the Museum forever, and live for a year on my savings, during which I could write. Two big stories have already come to my mind, the “Camchester Chronicle” and “A Camchester Diary”. If I could get these two off in a year, I believe I should be a success.

I have at least £200 in cash, and about £60 to come from the pension fund, besides the sale of pony, trap and harness. I know I could live comfortably on £5 a week.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catherine

The values today of Rudsdale's savings and pension fund are £6,588.33 and £1,976.50.

As I have noted before he seems to be quite well off, but was he? Comparisons with other workers at Colchester council at the time would be interesting.

Mike Dennis

Anonymous said...

Catherine

His £5 a week to live on would be £164.71.

Mike Dennis

Robin King said...

Again an example of how one or two people can unhappily influence the outcome of local (and national!) affairs. As I haven't read the diaries, this is for me like an unfolding horror story - hopefully with eventually a happy twist to the tale. The war does end, and the Castle and its Museum does flourish today.

E J Rudsdale said...

Thanks for calculating this for me, Mike. This does put Rudsdale's savings and pay into perspective and the amounts don't seem that much to live on.

British Labour Statistics for 1939-45state that the average weekly pay for men in the industrial sector by 1942 was £5.57 and Rudsdale was earning less than this at just under £5 a week. Government industrial establishment workers were earning considerably more at £6.10 a week and I imagine that clerical workers within Colchester Council would have received higher pay.

The museum sector was notoriously poorly paid especially for assistant curators such as Rudsdale (eg: £3 a week prior to the war) and the farming sector also had lower than average wages so he had not chosen very lucrative areas to work in! CP

E J Rudsdale said...

Thanks for your comment, Robin. I think Eric was feeling increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in his career by this stage of the war but interesting to note his commitment to his writing. It would take another 70 years but at least his diaries have now been published! There will be more twists in the tale to come but something tells me that Eric is heading for a happier few days shortly! CP

Barbara Critchley said...

My mother notes in her 1942 war-time letters to my father that two of her work colleagues flat-share in north London and spend 30/- (£1.50) in today's money on food, heat, rent etc.

E J Rudsdale said...

Thanks Barbara - that's a very helpful comparison. Clearly Rudsdale's £5 a week would have allowed him to live comfortably as he said. CP