Women and the straw plaiting industry – Gloria Morris

Gloria MasonGloria’s ancestors worked in the straw plaiting industry and she describes how they used to plait straw for the making of straw boaters while walking to St Albans market from Welham Green.It emancipated these women from having to do domestic work as they could earn more than men working as labourers. Even young children were employed to do straw plaiting.

Interview date: 22 August 2013. Interviewer: Linda Bateman.


  1. Janet

    Fascinating hearing about the straw plait trade from someone with information handed down within her family. My great great grandfather lived in Chesham, Bucks, on the Herts border and was a plait dealer. He supplied the straw to the plaiters and collected the plaits which he sold to the hatters. The local gentry were apparently put out by what they considered to be “impudent” behaviour from the dealers and plaiters who had money to spend and “didn’t know their place”. There were rumours that the women were immoral, probably put about because, as Gloria states, the women did not feel obliged to marry the first man who asked for reasons of financial security.


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