What did your parents/grandparents do for a living?

Interesting as it is it see the list of our current jobs etc I thought it may be nice to share some history and see how lives and families have changed.

My Father was a salesman for Olivetti typewriters and office equipment most of his life. He also served in the Navy in Korea. My Mum never had a career.

My Grandfathers were both in WWI. One worked afterwards selling textiles from a barrow in the East End, the other as a gas fitter–ironic since he was gassed in the war. Neither lived long lives.

My brother and I are the first to go on to further education, and probably the first ‘middle class’ in the line.


My father was in the army (Korea, Aden and North Africa) then became a teacher. My mother was a Norton nanny, who became a school matron when my parents divorced.
My paternal grandfather was a clergyman, as was his father before him. My grandmother was a mother.
My maternal grandfather was a farmer, who served in WWI; his wife was a mother.

Paternal grandfather was a coal miner, hence not allowed to join up for WW1. Two mining accidents in 1920 encouraged him to retire from mining and set up in business on his own with a pony and trap taxi service. This grew into a bus/caoch business. My grandmother I never knew, she died young. But I knew my step grandmother who had been a house maid to some semi-noble family in Norfolk.

My father, along with his brothers continued developing the coach business. He served in the REME in WW2, first with the British Expeditionary Force and back via Dunkirk. Then for about 4 years in India, Assam and Burma. After the war, being the youngest brother, he was “pushed out” of the bus/coach business with a small payoff. Set up in haulage contracting, followed by second-hand car sales, followed by petrol filling stations in which myself and my two brothers still have “sleeping” stakes.

My maternal grandfather was a railwayman for 50 years (less WW1 war service in the artilary). He was at the front of digital technology (ie a morse-code telegrapher) to start, and retired as head of operational comms in Newcastle. my maternal grandmother was just that - a mother to two girls.

My mother spent the war years as a crane driver, building tanks.

I was the only one of my brothers and cousins to go to university (civil engineering) and learn to fly. One of my daugters went to university (architecture) and a few of her cousins and half cousins did first degrees. One of her sisters (now in Canada) and several cousins/half-cousins heve set up in business.

I wonder how many of our current jobs will become obsolete inside 25years? My dad sold typewriters, now only seen in museums!


Both my grandfathers were joiners in the Greenock shipyards. Not sure what jobs if any my grannies had - one died very young and I never knew her and the other seemed to have all the time in the world to spend with her grandchildren which was cool for us!

My father served his time in the shipyards as an electrician before joining an unknown company called IBM ( “It’ll never last - stick in the 'yards son” - how wrong they were). My mum worked in the accounts office of the big local Mill rising to have quite some responsibility before leaving as soon as she married to have us kids.

We three kids are the 1st generation to contemplate going to Uni and were lucky enough to do it in the 80’s when there were still maintenance grants and no fees. Having our degrees has opened numerous opportunities for all of us for which we are very grateful.

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This can get complicated. I can go back to 1770 on paternal side & 1200’s on maternal side.

Paternal side
Father. KIA Arnhem, 10th Para
Grandfather was a woodcarver. In WW1 he joined up with The London Regiment & fought at Gallipoli & Palestine. returned home & continued same profession with his own business. Great Grandfather started as a shop keeper & ended up owning three shops, these continued in the family up to WW2 when all were damaged in the blitz.
G.G.G.Father was a Fellowship Porter, Guildsman & Freeman of the City of London
G.G.G.G.Father was a coal merchant, shipping & transporting from all over UK into London. He also was a Freeman of the City of London.
That business was started by his father.

Maternal side
Grandfather was a farm foreman & horse specialist. In WW1 he was in The Bucks Hussars & he also fought at Gallipoli & Palestine, including the Battle of Jerusalem & Mughar Ridge. Returned home & continued in farm & game keeping.
G.G.Father was a farmer & three generations before him owned the same farm.
Previous forefathers included a sea captain & an equerry to William-III.

My father and grandfather were bookmakers. The firm was established in 1911. It was made legal in 1961!

Re IBM in Greenock - it didn’t last the site has a very abandoned look to it - even the railway station - IBM Halt is no longer stopped at.

My maternal family were tenant farmers, cows, crops, milk, butter.
My paternal grandparent was a trolley bus conductor when he was about 11, then he had a few cows and sold milk from a horse and cart.
The milk cart grew into a business moving goods.
This grew into a business for the next generation of three brothers who had lorries to cart stuff around and take animals around the country.

I did not see the joy in haulage so I opted out to get a degree in Production Engineering
and then moved into IT (I did not like the smell of suds and a machine shop)

Retired in 2000 at the tender age of 56.

One Grandfather went through WW2 start to finish with the DLI, wounded twice. Came out and worked essentially as a painter/decorator but also some specialist work in gilding. Ended up as lollipop man in retirement. My Grandmother worked in bakers most her life.

Other Grandfather was an engineer and in the war was part of team adapting tanks to work in different roles like fording rivers etc. and once drove a Sherman across Thames riverbed! Then a senior engineer in Leicester firm for rest of his career post war. My other Grandmother never worked a day in her life and is now 97 and only one left. By some years!

Yes, sadly true - though for the 35 years he worked there it fared much better than the yards which were closing one by one.

Paternal line
Father: Solicitor
Grandfather: Professional Army (India / Afghanistan, then Palestine) then solicitor
Great grandfather: Solicitor

Maternal Line
Mother: Nurse (then theatre sister and ward Sister)
Maternal Grandfather: Minerals merchant to the ceramics industry

Father: attended national service in 1951 RAF, volunteered for a couple of extra years served in Libya - ground crew pumping gas mainly, nice easy job but got very bored, back in civvy street joined the GPO became telephone engineer / tech 2 grade. His mum had no career - died young of cancer, his dad was a truck driver before & during WWII, and after a delivery driver for large department store.

Mother: just for a few years in her 20s a couple of part time jobs for notable firms during the 1960s; Huntley & Palmers, and later Gillettes, before ill heath set in. Her parents were Welsh [from mining community Gwent ] emigrated to England looking for work during the 1930s. Grandfather lost a leg in motorcycle accident in 1930s but he worked successfully as a carpenter - eventually for British Rail mostly.
Mum’s mother was a servant when young, after marriage a housewife, when kids left home worked part time [as a cleaner i think] for Courages Brewery for many years.

My parents were the first of the family line to buy and own their home in the late 1950s.

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My paternal grand father was a visiting American serviceman during the second WW, who went back unknown.
My maternal great grandfather was a renowned vanity painter with many works installed within the RMS Titanic.

Paternal Father; Qualified as a solicitor but went into academia, culminating in 25 years as Professor of Law at Birmingham University. Recieved an OBE for services as a Comparative lawyer, promoting links with Birmingham and France. Served in WWII as an NCO working radars at Leuchars, Scotland.

Paternal Grandfather; Inspector of Taxes for Wolverhampton. Served in WW1 repairing aircraft at Leuchars, Scotland.

Paternal Mother; Worked hard as a housewife and mother to four children.

Maternal Grandfather; Owned a foundry in West Bromwich.


I must admit I’m finding many of these stories really interesting. My only family claim to fame is my maternal Grandfather played a few games of cricket for Essex around 1912-3

My paternal g/f was an electrician and union agitator, my maternal g/f was at one point in the French Foreign Legion, was later in the merchant navy, then worked at the Royal Mint. The former was in North Africa and Italy in the war; the latter was on the Atlantic convoys.

My dad was an accountant, while my mum (who at various points had to keep the family going on her own) was variously a housewife, a nurse, telephonist, lollipop lady, a carer, museum attendant, a dinner lady, and worked in a department store.

I know my paternal gg/f (ie, my dad’s dad’s dad) ran a pub in South London, while my mum’s maternal grandparents were circus/fairground people from Bristol.

Unfortunately he never got the financial returns he was promised. Sadly the family fortune sank with the rest and he gave up painting.

I still have a working Olivetti M21 from 1986. Not exactly a typewriter, but running MSDos 2.11 is comes close …

Father was a naval aviator and then a broadcast (radio and tv) engineer–he was the youngest person in the state of Arizona, USA to get his Ham Radio license in 1933. Grandfathers were bookies and janitor for school. Both were alcoholics in their spare time.

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