Interview of Dennis Knowles
by Agatha Pilkington
The following fragment was found with the other Pilkington recordings. It is a short interview of Dennis Knowles, a worker at the zinc plant. Worker records show a D E Knowles working at the plant between 1928 and 1967 as a "labourer". Mrs Pilkington's descendent (who wishes to remain anonymous) explains that the poor quality of this particular recording is due to them repeatedly listening to the tape so as to hear Agatha's voice again.
AP: This is Agatha Pilkington speaking to Mr Dennis Knowles of the Seaton Snook Zinc Works. Good morning, Dennis!
DK: Morning Mrs Pilkington.
AP: What do you think of the noise here?
DK: Beg Pardon?
AP: What do you think of the noise here? Do you not find it awfully loud?
DK; Oh, aye. But you just get used to it don’t you?
AP: Do you find they give you adequate ear protection?
DK: When I started I remember one of the auld ones telt me ter use cotton wool with vaseline, so I did that for a while, but then just sort of stop, don’t yeh? Ah mean, there’s always a bit of like… like, yer don’t want to be thought of as soft, like. So, yeah, yer just don’t.
DK: Oh yeah, some of the lads had them from when they was in the army
AP: The Lee Sonics or the…?
DK: Nah, the Mallock Armstrongs
AP: The Mallock Armstrongs, I see.
DK: Aye. But by then their hearing was all knackered anyway on account of the guns so they stopped bothering. I was still here cos of me leg, of course, so…
AP: And what about the younger men?
DK: Well I know one of the lads who was in the RAF used to wear ones that had the glycerine in them, like fluid they was called, but they used to melt down yer face if you was in the blast furnace! So they was no good.
AP: Oh dear! Have you ever received official communication from the managers about ear protection?
DK: Nah, nah, nothing from them. The gaffer might’ve mentioned it but I don’t remember.
AP: Do you ever worry about going deaf?
DK: Nah. Nah, it is what it is. It’s just part of the job, like.
It is clear that Pilkington is reading her questions from a paper, which could be an indication of her nervousness in the interview, or of her determination to make as proper and thorough study as possible, with set questions for each interviewee. Unfortunately, this is the only interview fragment among the recordings, and so this latter possibility cannot be verified.