Wages and Money

 

Wages

There was a national inconsistency in how the wages were calculated. Some girls for example weren’t sometimes paid for their overtime. However, Lady Denman campaigned during the war for a minimum wage of 28/week [zotpressInText item=”{EVJ7DCN4,76}”].

Some of the key developments were as follows:

  • 1st June 1939:  Wages were set 28 shillings (£1.40) weekly pay (10 shillings less than the average farm wage at that time) for a 50 hour week (48 in winter). Half of that (70p) to pay for food and accommodation.
  • 1st March 1941: 32 shillings (£1.60) (for up to 48 hours a week) for a Land Girl billeted off the form, 16 shillings (80p) for a Land Girl billeted on the farm (plus free board and lodging), plus overtime pay.

According to I.Pamphlett, for a 52 hour week for £2.4s, and from this £1.10s was deducted for board [zotpressInText item=”{PU7K4T54,65}”]. There was often a wait for wages, as the farmer was paid by the state, who then had to pay the Land Girls. In many cases, money was late in getting to the Land Girls.

Four weeks training are over Iris Joyce receives her first weeks pay. Source: D8838, Northamptonshire Record Office. Courtesy of Dr David Wilson.

Four weeks training are over Iris Joyce receives her first weeks pay.
Source: D8838, Northamptonshire Record Office. Courtesy of Dr David Wilson.

A Tight Budget

Despite working for most of the day in uniform, Land Girls did not have much money to spare. Out of their wages, money was taken for board and lodgings and laundry. The lifestyles of many Land Girls functioned on a tight budget. Grimwood remembers hitch hiking on numerous occasions, despite being warned of the dangers.

Land Girls and Lumber Jills on Bikes

Land Girls and Lumber Jills on Bikes
Unknown land girl at a north Bedfordhsire hostel. Note the makeshift straw-bale garage for the hostel lorry which took land girls out to farms each day. Source: Stuart Antrobus.
Black and white copy negative of Jean Johnstone, a member of the Women’s Timber Corps, posing with her bicycle beside Loch Eddy, Peeblesshire, c. 1941 – 1946. Source: National Museums Scotland
Unknown Land Girl by her bike. Source: Caro-jon-son (Flickr) Joan Birchall and her WLA colleagues arriving or leaving Hope House, Ipswich. Source: Kara Lynn

 

A need to cycle…

Bicycles, which were often used as transport from the girls’ accommodation to the farms were vital, once they got to know their way around the country lanes. Having your own (or a WLA bicycle) gave you freedom of movement in a country area. There were no road signs, so as to not aid the enemy in attack. Dimmed bicycle lamps at night also made it extremely difficult for the girls to find their way around. Mrs Scott noted how:

“Another time I was biking home for lunch when the cows were being taken for milking. Behind them were some troops from Grange Camp. Not wanting them to see a Land Army girl frightened of cows I rode through them when a tail flicked out and hit me in the face, knocking me off the bike. There I sat, my bike on top of me, a dirty face and the troops laughing.

 

Courtesy of Stuart Antrobus


References

Grimwood, Irene. Land Girls at the Old Rectory. Ipswich: Old Pond Publishing, 2000.
Kramer, Ann. Land Girls and Their Impact. Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2008.
Mant, Joan. All Muck No Medals: Landgirls by Landgirls. Leicester: Book Guild Publishing Ltd, 1994.

Further Reading

For more on the history of cycling, visit Sheila Hanlon’s excellent website.