Irene Clarkson interview: Life after the war

What did you do when peace arrived? Did you carry on your job?

For a bit and then I applied to become a probation officer. The Government paid for me to go the London School of Economics. Because I was under 30 there was a theory then that it would be useful for social workers to have some sort of qualification. Anyhow I enjoyed myself. If you already had a degree they said you could do it in a year but the rest of us were there for two years. 

Were you a probation officer for a long period?

Yes, from 1953 until I retired [in 1981]. Not in Wimbledon. I was in the London service. When I retired I was a liaison officer to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). 

What happened when you retired?

I used to go up to Yorkshire to see my cousin because her old people had died. She didn’t drive so we would take off and I would do the driving. I would be staying with her in Harrogate and we would take off and go various places. 

Can you tell me about driving, what the roads were like in those days?

Well it was much easier, of course, driving. For instance, suppose I was going to drive across London from where I was working – Tower Bridge at one point – to a prison on the other side of London. I would simply put my A to Z on my passenger seat and think yes, that’s the way I go. You couldn’t do it now but I could then. Just glance at the map and off. And I could park outside any prison I wanted. Much, much easier. If I was going from Tower Bridge to Wormwood Scrubs, half an hour at the most. 

And when you were parked outside your house there were no other cars at all, the street was completely empty?