Thomas Waddicor (b.1906): Purpose and Audience – Writing Lives

Thomas Waddicor (b.1906): Purpose and Audience

St Luke’s Church, Cheetham Hill

The reader is able to draw many conclusions as to what Thomas Waddicor’s main purpose was for creating his memoir as he does not directly address this. One of Thomas’s motives could be that he wished to share his experience of being poor, working hard and becoming rich: going from one extreme to another. Thomas begins the memoir moving house twice and going from a deprived areas to a ‘slum clearance’ (p. 1). Towards the end of his memoir he moves to London and becomes the owner of an advertising agency which prospered until he decides to sell it. Another reason for Thomas’s memoir could be that he wanted to leave an account of his life challenges for his children and grandchildren to read. Although he doesn’t reveal whether he has children we infer that he has a family as he has had two wives and constantly says ‘we’ and ‘us’ and ‘they’ when speaking about moving houses and other family orientated details. A final possibility may be by explaining his life struggle and how much he has come on in life may inspire and encourage people who come from his social background and class. With that in mind, however, Waddicor doesn’t aim to represent the social class or position which he comes from. He continues with his very personal and fortunate journey without explicitly referring to class and doesn’t ever use the word ‘poor’ or ‘rich’.

Thomas writes in bullet points and handwrites years in the margin of when each ‘memory’ had taken place. Specific events are revealed in a piecemeal fashion and he tends not to give much detail, allowing room for interpretation. The memoir mostly focuses on the years 1917-1923, which are the years he struggles in Manchester and begins to work with Mr. Hobson. Towards the end of the memoir Thomas’s busy life becomes apparent as he jumps from year to year going from 1945 to 1952. Thomas fought in the First World War and ‘with the start of the Second World War, in 1939’ it may have been that Thomas had to fight again (p.60) but the memoir is incomplete.

Mr Hobson is one of the main people in Thomas’s life and the author doesn’t refer to his parents as much as he speaks about Mr. Hobson. Consequently, the autobiography could be said to be a tribute to Mr Hobson who Thomas is fond of and eternally grateful for giving him many opportunities. Thomas’s success could be pinned to working for Mr. Hobson. It is working for him which opens many doors for Thomas. In Thomas’s case it is not hard work or great effort which allows him to escalate further into wealth but it is the support of Mr. Hobson and fortunate opportunities arising at the perfect time. This could cause problems for the reader who is reading the memoir as an inspiration when they realise that all Thomas did was be in the right place at the right time as not everyone is able to create their own advertising business in London. In fact, Mr. Hobson’s contacts create this possibility for Thomas

I was able to experience parts of Greater Manchester which I had not been to before. I visited parts of Cheetham Hill where Thomas Waddicor would go to when he was younger. One of the places being The River Irwell Bridge, where Thomas would feel ‘terror of walking across’ is now a very safe bridge (p.2). It was sad to see that St. Lukes Church, the place where Thomas would go ‘looking for the grave of some (now forgotten)’ is now derelict, which is ironic as the graves are now actually forgotten (p. 2).

Works cited

Burnett, John. Autobiographies of Childhood, Education and Family from 1820s to the 1920s, 1982.

Constantine, Stephen. Unemployment in Britain Between the Wars, Essex: Longman Group Ltd, 1980

David Vincent, Bread, Knowledge and Freedom. 1982

Davies, Andrew. Leisure, Gender and Poverty, Buckingham: Open University Press, 1993.

Eric, Hopkins. Childhood Transformed: Working class children in nineteenth century England. Manchester University Press, 1994.

Hedrick, Harry. Children, Childhood and English Society 1990-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997

Gagnier, Regenia. ‘Working-Class Autobiography, Subjectivity, and Gender.’ Victorian Studies 30.3 (1987): 335-363

Griffen-Foley, Bridget. From Tit-Bits to Big Brother: a century of audience participation in the media, Macquarie University, Australia. P533-4

Lynn Broughton and Helen Rogers. Gender and Fatherhood in the nineteenth Century. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

Marjorie Cruickshank, Children and industry, Manchester 1981.

Mike Savage and Andrew Miles, The Remaking of the British Working Class 1840-1940. Routledge London, 1994.

Rose, Jonathan, ‘Rereading the English Common Reader: A Preface to a History of Audiences.’ Journal of the History of Ideas. 53. 1 (1992): 47-70

Ross, Ellen. Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918. Oxford 1993, 152-3

Thompson, Paul. The Edwardians: the Remaking of British Society. St Albans, 1977.

Vincent, David. ‘Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class.’ Social History, 5.2 (1980): 223-247.

Waddicor, Thomas. ’Memories of Hightown and Beyond’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiography. University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:787

Dixon, D. (2016). St Luke’s Church Tower, Cheetham Hill (C) David Dixon :: Geograph Britain and Ireland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Jan. 2016].



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.