WOMEN EMPLOYEES IN
VICTORIAN HASTINGS & ST LEONARDS
Hastings & St Leonards had no industry except fishing. This was a male occupation, although some women prepared and sold fish, or made and repaired nets. These were generally the wives and daughters of the fishermen.
Most female employees here were engaged in servicing the wealthy residents and visitors. They were domestic servants in private houses and also cleaners, barmaids, waitresses and chambermaids in hotels, boarding and lodging houses, public houses and dining rooms.
Some women were employed as lodging house keepers (others were lodging house owners.).
There were women employed to run public baths and other places of public recreation.
There were also a large number of washerwomen employed in commercial laundries.
Women worked as assistants in shops ~ often ones owned by their parents or other family members.
Women with a little education worked as school teachers in endowed, church and ragged schools, although they were not trained or qualified until later in the century.
Untrained and unqualified women also worked as sick-nurses, monthly-nurses and midwives. As the century progressed, these occupations were formalised and training became compulsory.
From the 1860s a small number of women began to be employed as book-keepers in hotels and larger shops.
A small number of women worked for public services, for example as matrons and schoolmistresses (in infirmaries, workhouses and prisons); as searchers (for the police); as toll-collectors (on roads); as gatewomen (at te gates of large houses) and as ladies' waiting room attendants (on the railways). A few women worked for the church as pew openers, earning a few pennies a week.
Once a national education system came into being in 1870, women flocked to work in the new primary and secondary schools.