Cabinet Making

Cabinet making could almost be called the family trade, though only one person did it regularly. That was Arthur’s Uncle Albert, a carver in Bethnal Green. Arthur’s first job was in cabinet making before he went to Borstal, and then when he came out he did it for a short time once again, but soon gave it up since it yielded little financial reward.

Arthur, his business partner Bill Saville and a woman they employed, had a small workshop in a small room at the back of a pub. They could make very nice ‘Louis cabinets’, made from hammering and glueing whitewood and staining it black. A carver would then come in and carve out quick and easy patterns on the drawers. The whole thing would polish up easily and look very professional, though in truth this was really quite a low budget affair. They would spend around 27 shillings on each and could sell them for 32 shillings, giving a profit margin of very little. Making a living from such a venture was both strenuous and unrewarding, so Arthur chose stealing and counterfeiting coins instead. It was only much later after he came out of two consecutive jail sentences that he did chose to go straight and stick to carpentry the rest of his life.


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