Series charting the revolution in modern fatherhood in Britain over the last 100 years. The opening part explodes the myth of the tyrannical Victorian-style father.
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Becoming a father is one of the most important events in a man's life,
and the relationship he has with his child will shape both of their lives
for years to come.
Until relatively recently,
very few historical or academic studies have explored
this crucial relationship and its impact on family life.
For too long, negative stereotypes of the father have persisted.
But now, in this three-part series,
we bring together personal testimony and expert opinion
to help us set the record straight.
The image that we have of fathers in the past is absolutely totally,
totally wrong. If you actually look at dads in the past,
the vast majority are loving, warm, fathers.
Beginning at the turn of the 20th Century,
this series will examine the social changes that affected dads
in the hundred years that followed.
We will show that despite the tragedy of two world wars,
the privations of economic hardship
and the upheaval of the sexual revolution,
most dads have always striven to do their best for their children -
as provider, protector, teacher and playmate.
He always gave us a big hug and big kisses,
and tell you to grow up a big girl and be a good girl.
Oh, I loved my father deeply.
I just wanted to be in his company as much as possible.
In this first programme,
we journey back in time as far as living memory will allow,
and hear from the children of Edwardian fathers
and from dads who raised families in the inter-war years.
There are many negative images of fathers from this period,
but these are largely exaggerated or inaccurate.
I think why I was so fond of my father
was because I always felt very strongly that he liked me.
That I was a real person who he liked.
These are tales of struggle and sacrifice,
of tenderness, redemption - and above all,
the enduring love that bonds father and child.
This is the extraordinary story of...
One of the most enduring stereotypes we have of the father from the past
is of the distant, uncaring patriarch
who expected his children to be seen and not heard.
Come here, Florence.
What is the child afraid of? Come here, Florence.
But this image is, for the most part,
a myth - a creation of literature, propaganda and historical studies
which have focussed almost exclusively on the mother.
Do you know who I am?
And have you nothing to say to me?
Say "good night", miss.
Good night, Papa.
Good night, Florence.
Go to Richard's now.
One of the first academics to challenge the negative stereotype
of the father from the past was Professor Joanna Bourke.
We have this idea that fathers in the past
were these rather stern patriarchal figures
who sort of bossed everyone around -
bossed the children around, you know, did corporal punishment,
bossed the wife around - and rather tyrannical type figures.
Those images, I think, really do need to be broken down.
When I started to look at fathers in the past,
one of the things that immediately jumped out at me was,
"Hang on here. This sort of negative image of fathers
"simply can't be true. I mean, I have a great dad."
And in fact, all the people I know
have fantastically warm, loving fathers, who are obviously...
My dad, for example, had to juggle lots of things -
he was a medically missionary, he worked very, very, very hard.
But, you know, he was always a hands-on dad.
He was always loving and affectionate.
And I think that that was one of the reasons why I thought,
"Well, is the stereotype... Is that true?"
At the beginning of the 20th Century,
the social landscape of Britain was very different
from what it is today,
with around 80% of the population considered to be working class.
Focusing her research on this section of British society,
Professor Bourke set out to uncover the truth.
drawn from oral histories and autobiographies, were surprising.
When I looked back in the archives and actually looked at ordinary dads,
of the 250 working-class autobiographies
that I used in my work,
for every one who said that their dad did not do childcare,
14 explicitly stated that he did.
This was an era when fathers often worked long hours
in dangerous conditions to earn what was called the family wage,
and mothers were expected to stay at home with the children.
It was a division of labour that would remain intact
in peacetime Britain for the next 40 years.
But although he was away from the family home,
the father's main responsibility was to his children.
In Edwardian Britain,
we think very much of fathers being absent from family life
and they're absent because they're in work, being providers.
However, historians have tended to think this means that
fathers aren't intimate in family life in any way -
but in childhood memories of their dads,
children actually constitute Father's absence
as evidence of his presence in family life,
because Father's away working for his children, for his family.
We see lots of images of men leaving, in their hundreds,
the mills, the factories, the mines -
often very dirty, often very weary -
and we tend to leave them at the factory gates.
But if you read childhood memories,
children anticipate Father's return home with real excitement.
They know that Father has been away all day, working for them.
But again, what we don't think about
is fathers who've worked a very long day - often very, very tired -
being truly excited to return home
and to have their children greet them.
But men can't resist their children.
They love that tactile involvement with children
and are delighted to be welcomed home with such excitement.
One of four children,
Lily Barron was born in the Welsh mining town of Blackwood in 1912.
That is myself - Lily -
and that's Daddy.
The most important man in my life.
He really was, and I loved every inch of him.
I think we were the...
apple of his eye, really.
He really did - he...
I think he worshipped us.
With a young family to keep, Lily's father worked hard -
but like most dads, he made sure there were treats, too,
like a trip to the seaside.
On one day out, Lily was paddling in the sea,
when she was knocked over by a wave.
We didn't have bathers in those times.
perhaps I had a petticoat and a pair of knickers on
and that was it, you know.
So I had to go off and be stripped off
and Daddy carried me up the beach - cos I was crying -
and got me undressed and put me on the...
put the clothes on the rocks to dry.
But Daddy never grumbled.
He never... I never remember him grumbling at us.
And we were naughty sometimes, I'll tell you.
This image of the gentle Edwardian working-class father
is at odds with contemporary reformist propaganda,
which often portrayed Dad as a brutal drunk.
Whilst it's true that some men liked to drink, and a few drank to excess,
the idea that many drunken fathers
regularly abused their wives and children is a myth.
These negative stereotypes
are perpetuated by very particular groups in society,
so not surprisingly, one of the key groups that sort of,
er, perpetuates the stereotype is temperance reformers.
By the early 1900s, the temperance movement,
which advocated teetotalism, was flourishing in Britain
and social reform groups like the Band of Hope
were spreading the word against the perils of alcohol
and its effect upon the working-class family.
As a direct result,
three million signed the pledge in support of abstinence.
Yet the myth of the brutal, drunken father persisted.
One of the reasons I think they are so keen
to promote this negative image of working-class fathers is that
it justifies their own position within working-class communities.
For temperance societies to justify their existence,
they have to have a folk devil to target,
and it is the working-class man.
Of course, it wasn't only Edwardian working-class children
who had close relationships with their fathers.
One of seven children, Phyllis Ing was born in London,
where her father was a solicitor's managing clerk.
I'll never, ever forget my father.
He was so kind and loving.
A man you could snuggle up to.
He was like a cuddly teddy bear.
During the week, Phyllis's father spent long hours at work,
so at the weekend, there was nothing he enjoyed more
than playing with his children.
It was a far cry from the "seen and not heard" childhood
of popular mythology.
We used to have lots of fun with Dad.
He was a real funny man.
And on Friday night - always on a Friday -
he used to come home with his pocket full of sweets for us.
We used to play chases round the garden
and we'd be shrieking with laughter and that sort of thing.
Even the neighbours used to enjoy listening to us laughing.
Mother said the weekends, it was terrible -
the noise we used to make with Dad and that.
She used to be glad when he went to work.
Perhaps the single most significant event to affect fathers
in the first part of the 20th Century was the First World War.
As war fever spread across the country in August 1914,
hundreds of thousands of men took up arms
in the name of duty and patriotism.
But as the threat from Germany grew stronger, it wasn't only
the young and reckless that took the King's shilling.
In 1914, you get this enormous rush to the colours.
In the first instance, young men - unemployed, disaffected,
keen on a sense of adventure.
What you get then is a second rush of older men -
of fathers who've wanted to make sure everything was OK at home,
wanted to make sure the government was going to pay proper allowances
to their families when they went to fight.
These men were motivated, of course, by a sort of sense of patriotism
and of duty, but it was more parochial than that.
They had read the newspapers,
they'd seen evidence that Germany threatened not France and Belgium,
but threatened England itself,
and it was their job to stop the Germans overseas
before they came and stood on their own front door.
Lily Barron's father was one of those who volunteered to fight
at the beginning of the war,
and was posted to the South Wales Borderers as a Lewis gunner.
With the expectation that they would help achieve a swift victory,
the fathers who left for France
could scarcely have imagined the horrors that awaited them.
But as the weeks turned to months,
and the casualty lists grew ever longer,
it's not surprising that their thoughts turned regularly
to their wives and children back home.
At the beginning of the war,
the Army Postal Service was handling some 650,000 letters per week.
By 1916, that figure had increased to 11 million.
Many of these letters and postcards survive to this day,
and have provided historians with a rich source of material evidence,
which show that although far away, fathers still took a great interest
in the daily lives of their children.
PROFESSOR BOURKE: One of the things I always loved
when I was reading the letters and diaries of working-class men
is the great, great pride they take in their children.
They take great, great pleasure in, you know,
what their child is doing
and you get these letters
sent from fathers in the front lines actually complaining and saying,
"Please! Can you tell me what little Sue is doing?",
and "How is Johnny?",
and "Lots and lots of kisses",
and drawing images for their children.
So children - infants in particular -
are something that fathers were increasingly concerned about.
They took great pride in it.
# Take me back to dear old Blighty
# Put me on the train for London town... #
Perhaps more importantly, the legacy of this correspondence
would be to change both the private and public perception
of a father's feelings towards his children.
When those men came back from the front lines,
they were faced with children who actually knew -
they had material evidence - that yeah, Daddy loves you,
Daddy wants to kiss you, Daddy wants to cuddle you,
Daddy will look after you when he comes back home.
Although letters enabled fathers and their children to keep in touch,
more important were the rare days
that dads could spend at home on leave.
For battle-weary soldiers,
a few days respite, spent in the company of their sons and daughters,
must have seemed like paradise.
Lily Barron is returning to her old home town of Blackwood
in South Wales.
It was there that she was reunited with her father
for the first time in three years,
when he came home on leave in 1917.
We were in school, my brother and I,
and when we got home, we had such a surprise - Daddy was there.
And oh, we were all over him then, you know.
He hugged the pair of us in both his arms, around the both of us,
and was kissing us, and then he'd rub Wyndham's hair like this
and, oh, he just was...
I don't know. I think he was excited to see that we'd grown a bit.
We really didn't want to know about the war.
All we cared about was our father coming back
and we wanted to keep him there, but...it wasn't.
Wasn't able to.
Lily's father spent little more than a week at home,
but arranged to have this photograph taken as a keepsake.
The following day he had to say goodbye to his family again -
this time with the full knowledge of just what awaited him in France.
On the morning that these fathers would have left home,
they would have kissed their wives goodbye, hugged their wives,
hugged their children, got their kit, walked to the gate,
Then they were going. They knew what they were going back into.
They'd been wounded once or were back on leave.
They understood the nature of the Western Front
what happened to an infantry battalion
when it went over the top,
and that moment when they leave their family for that last time,
they give their child that final kiss,
their wives their final hugs.
Can you imagine what that moment must have been like?
As a father, I can get a sense of,
you know, being away for a week and missing my son,
but at least I have the prospect of coming back and seeing him.
For these men, they had every prospect
of never seeing their family again.
The children that they'd read bedtime stories to,
taken to the playground, taken to church.
And all of a sudden,
an arbitrary shell or bullet was going to end all that.
Lily's father, John Jones, was killed in November 1917.
His body lay undiscovered for nearly six months.
Regimental diaries reveal that he was shot in the thigh,
and left behind as his regiment retreated.
A copy of the family photograph was found on his body.
The family struggled after his death,
and Lily was sent to live with an aunt in Herefordshire.
She never lived at home in Blackwood again.
But today, she has returned to the town
and the war memorial where her father's sacrifice is remembered.
Well, I still think, you know, when they all had to retreat
and Daddy was left there alone,
what were his thoughts?
I'm sure he was thinking about us all, you know.
He was lovely. Yes, he was.
It is estimated that 250,000 British fathers
were killed in the First World War,
and their loss left a hole in family life
that would last for generations.
But that is only part of the story.
Propaganda films like this one
portrayed a happy homecoming for fathers lucky enough to survive.
# Keep the home fires burning... #
But this too was a myth.
In reality, countless numbers of fathers
found it difficult to settle back into family life
after the horrors of war.
And for these men seeing their families again, it was...
It was a very, very difficult experience because all of a sudden,
they'd seen things that no man should ever see and it...
They would thrash around at night, they would have nightmares in bed,
the children would now be not quite sure - who was this man?
Maybe they were too young to remember him pre-war.
Maybe even if they could,
he's now not the father that they could recall.
So all of a sudden, you've got this moment when you should have
this elation of family reuniting again but very, very quickly,
that broke up as people began to say,
"You're not really my daddy that I remember,"
or, "Daddy's angry, Daddy's violent, Daddy can't get a job,
"Daddy can't look after the family." Equally, Daddy himself is thinking,
"I can't look after my... I can't do well by my family,
"I can't maintain the household. I've got these wounds,
"I've got these mental agonies that I'm going through
"and I've got nobody to help me."
Alec Haines was one of those
whose family suffered in the aftermath of the war.
He was born in the village of Holme Lacy in the Wye Valley in 1920
and has come back in search of the place where he lived with his father
over 80 years ago.
Alec's father was gassed and shot in the war
and for a time, his injuries prevented him from working.
He soon began to find comfort in drink.
Like millions of soldiers in the First World War, came home,
their lives had been shattered and so had my poor father.
There was no work available
and he could not work,
but eventually, he did go out to farms
and help in the hay and the corn
and pulling up beet and all this sort of thing.
And he took to drinking home-made cider
and that's what he had at that farm,
and subsequently, wherever he could get it.
When Alec was five, his mother died,
shortly after giving birth to his youngest brother.
The family were evicted from their cottage
and the youngest children were sent away
to be looked after by relatives,
but Alec and his dad stayed together.
Somebody gave my father an old First World War bell tent
and we two stayed in there
and we were on some ground on a farm.
That's where it would be - up there,
but that don't matter, as long as we get on a green patch, do it?
Here's the style, here.
Bloody hell. "Heads down, Alec -
Now we're right.
While Alec went to school,
his dad laboured several miles away in return for cider and food.
They supplemented their diet with fresh eggs collected from birds
that nested in a nearby bank,
and bread and jam made by the farmer's wife.
After a brief search, Alec found his old home.
He hasn't been back to this spot since 1925.
This is it.
It was here, in this field, that Alec and his dad lived
for nearly six months,
until the onset of winter forced them to leave.
Unable to cope, Alec's dad had to find an alternative.
he decided to send his three oldest children to Muller's Homes,
a large orphanage in Bristol.
The homes operated a strict system of segregation,
and after a tearful last goodbye, the children were separated.
Quickly indoctrinated into a daily routine of prayer,
hard work and cleanliness, Alec and his brother and sister
were only allowed to see one another for one hour a month.
All the time I was in Muller's Homes,
I... I always thought,
one day my poor dad will come down
and rescue us from this terrible conditions we were in.
And of course the time came -
quite unexpected for me - when a master came in.
He said, "I've just had a message.
"Your father's died."
I think I must have taken a deep breath.
He did no more than turn round
and go back to where he was with his hands - I can see it now -
with his hands behind his back.
He didn't know how it would affect me
and it suddenly dawned on me,
"Not my poor dad."
And I fell down on the matting and with that,
10 or 12 boys rushed to me and consoled me,
and of course, I was just crying and crying.
I'd lost everything.
Alec remained in Muller's Homes until he was 14.
He had no idea what had happened to his father
until after the Second World War,
when he discovered that he was buried here,
not far from where they used to live.
To my disgust - it hit me terrible -
he was buried in a pauper's grave.
After all that, for this country -
wounded and gassed, came back to England,
could not work,
brought up a family -
and then died and was buried in a pauper's grave.
Yeah, in a pauper's grave.
During the inter-war years,
a new spirit of optimism gradually began to spread across the country.
After a government promise to provide homes fit for heroes,
the Housing Act of 1919 led to the development of new council housing
on modern cottage estates.
And further legislation, passed in 1930,
paved the way for the demolition of the old slum areas.
Families soon began to leave the inner cities
for a fresh start in the suburbs and by the end of the decade,
one family in three lived in an inter-war-built house.
This was a golden age for the new suburban father -
one where he could enjoy simple pleasures with his children
in a clean and safe environment,
and where his role as a provider could be fully realised.
The council estates and the suburbs of the inter-war years -
very, very different to living in the inner cities.
They were built not with pubs, but with gardens.
They were built a long distance from your work,
so there was a... You know, you had to travel from work to the home,
so home became a separate sphere, if you like.
The small nuclear family-type idea
really, really grew in importance.
Birth rates, which had been falling in the early part of the century,
temporarily increased after the First World War.
Yet for most men,
childbirth remained a mysterious and frightening event,
an experience from which they were often excluded.
But nothing could overshadow the sheer joy
of becoming a father for the first time.
Alfred Jenkins became a father in the 1920s.
It was a very, er, terrifying experience for me,
because I could hear my wife upstairs
groaning with the pain
and, er, I could hear the nurse encouraging her,
and to be quite candid, very, very upsetting to me.
Although I wasn't going through the pain,
I must have been having sympathy pains,
I'm told that I fainted at the bottom of the stairs.
When I recovered,
I remember being presented with this lovely little baby.
And I remember the feeling of elation, first of all,
that my wife - according to the reports I received - was well,
the child was well,
and there I was, holding my own baby in my arms.
And it was a wonderful moment.
But although new dads enjoyed spending time at home
with their young children,
most baby care remained the duty of the mother.
Many men were reluctant to get involved
with the hands-on responsibility of caring for their baby -
particularly those who worked in a masculine environment, like Alfred.
When I got home from work most days,
I helped with the children quite a lot.
There was no question of my changing their nappies
or bathing them or anything of that kind.
The general picture was that men didn't do these things.
That was the general way of life.
It was women's work, men's work.
And if a man did it, he was...
I'm not saying he was baited all the time, but he...
he'd lost a bit of his manliness in the eyes of other men by doing it.
I would nurse them in the house,
but the wife would always push the pram, like, see.
If I went - I wouldn't go to push it in any case -
but if a man did go to push it,
the wife wouldn't accept it.
See, that would...
She wouldn't accept it. It would appear as if she was,
what we called in those days, hen-pecking a man.
Fathers like Alfred were perhaps reluctant
to take a hands-on approach because most were never shown how to do it.
In the first decades of the 20th Century,
welfare agencies and health visitors were on hand to offer instruction
in the basics of parenting,
but their services were provided almost exclusively to the mother.
-You have milk depots, training classes,
health and welfare visitors who come to the working-class home,
all aimed at the mother and teaching the mother to be a better parent.
Fathers are completely -
actively and deliberately -
excluded from this movement.
But all that was to change,
with the creation of a new movement in parenting
that would last into the 1940s.
It was called Fathercraft.
Well, the Fathercraft movement has, until recently,
been completely lost to history.
It started in London in 1920,
at the Lancaster Road infant welfare centre in Kensington.
And there were some male doctors who started it,
and they thought it was very important to draw fathers in
to the care of infants and young children.
And the movement quickly spread
and soon, there were centres in Bristol, in Birmingham,
in Glasgow, in Liverpool.
It sprang from developments in child psychology
which had begun to recognise the important role played by fathers
and to understand that when the bond between the father and the child
was fostered very early on, that it was strongest.
This was an absolute turning point.
it was a turning point in the history of modern fatherhood -
the first time that fathers' roles
were really recognised by members of the health profession.
Although there were many dads still to be converted
to the joys of childcare, those that took the plunge often enjoyed it.
Tom Atkins moved to London from India in the 1930s
and in the space of the next few years,
met a girl, got married, and became the proud father of a baby daughter.
And from the start, he took the kind of hands-on approach to fatherhood
that would have made the instructors at Fathercraft classes very proud.
Well, I remember changing nappies. In those days, it wasn't these...
These little things with the press button at the side
which you took off and threw away.
These were the towelling sort of thing,
which you put on and you pinned them at both sides.
There was a special way of putting them on.
It was smelly, and you just folded it up
and put it in a bucket of water. Salty water, I think it was.
Yes, I did that. I did that for her.
It's always been the hope of every new father
that their child succeeds in life,
and even betters their own achievements.
In the inter-war years,
as new babies grew into young children,
many fathers willingly took on one of their most important roles -
that of educator.
This was particularly true in working class communities,
which often had a strong autodidactic tradition -
one which encouraged home education and self learning.
Rather than the cliche of spending hours in the pub,
many fathers would prefer to be at home, schooling their children.
There's been this widespread assumption
that working-class fathers haven't been interested
in their children's education.
In fact, historical records have debunked this myth.
It's perfectly clear that working-class dads -
especially more highly skilled workers, such as miners -
were very interested in their children's education.
There was a strong tradition of self education -
miners' institutes, libraries, working men's educational groups -
and it was these fathers' greatest joy
to pass on their learning to their children.
And for some of them, it was their greatest dream that their sons
would be able to escape this hard life in the pits,
risking their lives every day,
by being able to go on to finer things.
And so they transmitted their knowledge
not just for the love of knowledge,
but how it could help their children in the future.
George Short, a miner from County Durham,
brought up three children in the 1920s and '30s.
Well, I taught my children, first of all,
the importance of education
and taught them, as I had been taught,
how to read and how to write.
I thought it was important because
reading books, as I explained to them,
they weren't just living on their own personal experiences -
or even on my experiences -
but books reflected the experiences of other people
and because of this,
books would give them a wider outlook on life.
George's choice of books for his children
was aimed at widening their understanding of the world,
and its pleasures and problems.
When they got to about eight or nine,
Shakespeare, Jack London,
and Dickens. I was, er...
I always liked Dickens, even when I was younger myself,
because I always thought the stories of Dickens
were such that they were very easy to read
and those that was on the side of the poor people,
in Dickens's books, always came out on top.
By contrast, children of the upper classes were often sent away
to be educated at public schools,
although some younger children - particularly girls -
were taught at home by a governess.
But despite the fact that upper-class fathers might not be
so involved with their child's day-to-day education,
some were inspirational figures,
who taught their children more than scholars ever could.
In the days of Empire, many fathers lived and worked overseas,
while a lucky few travelled simply for pleasure.
The middle daughter of seven girls,
Dick Worcester was born in the New Forest in 1920.
Her father, Tom Longstaff, was a qualified medical doctor,
although he never practised.
Instead, family wealth allowed him to follow
his love of mountaineering and exploration.
It was an age when climbing at altitude was a dangerous pastime,
but Tom Longstaff had a passion for life, and for living.
Don't be put off because a thing's dangerous -
or supposed to be dangerous, or looks dangerous.
What's the good of your life if you're not willing to chance it?
His adventurous spirit had a marked effect on Dick from an early age,
first becoming apparent when she decided
she no longer wanted to be known by her original name, Barbara.
I didn't like my name Barbara, I didn't like being a girl.
I wanted to be a boy. Of course, I could then travel
and explore and do things like my father.
On the whole, there were no women climbing mountains and exploring
that I knew about.
I thought if I was a boy, I could.
Among his many achievements,
Dick's father climbed with George Mallory and Sandy Irvine
on their 1922 expedition to Everest.
It was just one of the exotic and far-away places
to which he travelled during his lifetime.
Although her father could be overseas for months at a time,
the moments they spent at home together
were always special for Dick.
Her favourite treat was to be invited into his study,
an almost sacred place,
which she would hardly dare enter without his express permission.
For an inquisitive child,
it was a place of great wonder and fascination.
Almost everything in the study was from a foreign country.
On the back of the sofa, there was a snow leopard skin.
He'd shot the snow leopard, but there were many in those days.
And over the side, Tibetan saddlebags,
and there was a strong smell of pipe smoke and tobacco.
I loved lifting the lid of his tobacco jar and smelling it.
And there was a narwhal's tusk, and there was a walrus tusk
etched onto it by Eskimos.
Little scenes of Eskimo life.
And heaps and heaps of books,
and I was allowed to take out ones I wanted to.
Despite his frequent absence,
Dick has fond memories of her father
and his playful, often relaxed, approach to parenting.
Well, the first thing I can remember about my father was going along
a long passage - it seemed very long to me -
from the nursery to my parents' bedroom and getting into their bed,
with them, where they were having morning tea
and I loved drinking cold dregs out of willow pattern mugs.
And my father used to want to play -
to be a fox hidden under the bedclothes
and then springing out at me,
and he had a big red bushy moustache.
He didn't have a beard in those days, but he did later,
and I enjoyed it very much, and he loved doing it.
I did feel that my father loved me, although he was very undemonstrative.
But I did feel that strongly.
He seemed to understand an awful lot about me without saying much.
But I can't remember any discipline from my father,
except he hated us playing the gramophone.
We used to play the gramophone and roller skate in a big room he built
and he could hear the music from his study windows
and he used to come and firmly shut the windows in our room.
We realised he was displeased, but he wasn't cross.
Inspired by her father's adventures,
Dick has always loved foreign travel.
And one place has meant more to her then any other.
I went to Nepal when I was 70
and then four years later, when I must have been 74,
and I loved it.
Being high up made me feel strongly connected with my father,
which was a very, very nice feeling. Very nice.
I knew he must have loved the same sort of country,
though of course, he went much, much higher up.
One of the best experiences of my life, being there.
Who put that picture there?
Dick's experience of a having father who was reluctant
to discipline his children is not unusual,
but it contradicts an enduring stereotype - the violent father.
Whilst it's true that some men did use corporal punishment
against their children, the image of the brutal disciplinarian,
popular in contemporary films and novels, is largely inaccurate.
You'll hit me too hard, Daddy, and they'll hang you.
I'll learn you.
They'll hang you, Daddy. Don't do, Daddy.
-I'll learn you.
You dare turn my picture to the wall. Your own dad...
Most fathers disliked punishing their children,
and their involvement in discipline was often seen as a last resort.
You good-for-nothing little madam. I'll learn you.
PROFESSOR BOURKE: If we look, for example,
at the role of discipline within the home,
what becomes very, very clear
is that it really was - it remained -
the mother's job to discipline the children.
The mother was responsible
for the day-to-day disciplining,
controlling, ensuring that everything went, if you like, according to plan.
Evidence of dads' reluctance to discipline their children
is supported by the observations of many social commentators,
and in particular, a district nurse turned author called Margaret Loane,
who wrote about her experiences in working-class households in London.
And Margaret Loane says that
a lot of mothers' discipline
is actually undermined by indulgent fathers
who are so pleased to see their children, they don't want to be
the one who has to use their special time with their children
to be disciplining them.
Margaret Loane also comments that
one of the reasons mothers use "wait till your father gets home"
as a threat is because children desperately don't want
to disappoint their dads and so, actually,
the "wait till your father get home" threat is quite an empty threat.
It's very useful because children don't want Father to know -
not because they're frightened he's going to beat them,
but because they don't want to disappoint him.
Of course, there were exceptions.
In fact, middle-class dads, even loving ones,
were the most likely to use harsh methods of discipline.
Phyllis Ing's father loved playing with his children,
but was prepared to use corporal punishment
when he felt it was necessary.
I know that he was a very loving, kind father,
but very strict.
I mean, I can remember there was always a cane hanging up
in the larder.
But never on the girls.
I think he occasionally gave the two elder boys
a tap on the backside now and again.
Like when my brother - eldest brother - went to the cup...
He had a very sweet tooth, which he'd had all his life.
Anyway, he went to the cupboard and he saw a tin of condensed milk open
so he got a spoon and he dipped it in
and he, filled... Had a whole spoonful of condensed milk
and then he took the spoon to the scullery to put in the sink.
But it also dripped all the way along the floor,
not knowing he'd done that.
And Dad came in, so he said, "Who's been to the cupboard?"
So Bill said, "I have, Dad."
"Get a cloth, wipe it up, and then get the cane."
And he got the cane for that, I remember.
You see, you couldn't do anything without asking.
Miner George Short, however, was one of those fathers
passionately opposed to the cane.
Just as he had with his children's education,
when it came to discipline, he took an enlightened approach.
I didn't believe in corporal punishment -
either for them or for any other children. I thought...
that was no way to teach kiddies,
to bring them up.
Even when they were naughty, then I realised
that was not a failure of them.
I realised it was a failure of me.
So if you want to train children,
the big thing is to win their confidence.
And if you win their confidence,
then they'll do whatever you tell them.
A father's ability to fulfil his role as provider
has always been dependent upon his employment.
In the first half of the century, many jobs were physically demanding
and often dangerous,
but the threat of unemployment was of far greater concern.
In the late '20s and '30s,
the North East of England was devastated
by the effects of the Great Depression.
Mines, shipyards and heavy industry closed down,
and men were laid off in their thousands.
In some places, as unemployment rose as high as 70%,
men joined queues at soup kitchens
and scrabbled for scraps of coal on slagheaps
in an attempt to provide food and warmth for their families.
It was harrowing time to be a father.
Fathers strive to provide for their families.
If they are unemployed it's a huge source of anxiety for them,
because they see their role and their relationship with their family
as kind of defined by their ability to provide for their family.
It's a language of love for an awful lot of fathers
who never verbalise their sentimental feelings.
And this is thrown into relief when men are unemployed
and the huge self-recrimination and guilt that men express
at not being able to provide for their families
offers us a window into seeing what that means for them.
In County Durham, George Short was one of those fathers
who had to cope with the misery of unemployment.
Here you were.
Your family needed things, they needed new clothes.
The average man - particularly the men of my class -
they always had believed that they were the breadwinner
and they were the one that, er...
that kept the wheels turning.
And the fact that his wife might get a job
didn't help, you see, because that helped take away
from the man the sense of importance which was his.
It was a terrible feeling.
Despite the hardships fathers faced during the Depression,
there was one unexpected benefit.
With no work to go to,
dads could spend more time in the company of their children.
George saw his free time as opportunity
to further his children's education,
and took them walking and camping in nearby woodland.
We used to go into the woods and in the woods, of course,
there was every form of wild animal.
Rabbits used to run almost tame
and, er, not only rabbits but hares, and they would be...
And then crawling about, you'd find hedgehogs and things like that,
so we would stop and look at these
and the bairns used to enjoy going for walks with us like that.
Fathers like George were an inspiration to their children
and in the inter-war years,
it was common for sons to want to follow in their footsteps,
by taking up the same occupation.
For many dads, this rite of passage
came with significant emotional responsibility.
For a dad training one's son up in your skill -
in your occupation - is one of the greatest gifts
you can give your son.
In a sense, your knowledge, your skill,
your experience as a working father is your capital.
It's your son's inheritance.
And so, giving this to your son
is not just about providing him with an income
and an occupation for his future -
it's very much about giving him something of yourself.
One of six children,
John Salinas was born in Liverpool in 1919.
Oh, I loved my father deeply.
I just wanted to be in his company as much as possible.
He was a very powerful man -
very strong, broad, and athletic -
and he used to take me to the swimming pool
and I could get on his back and ride on his back.
And it was a great feeling and a great closeness between us.
Unfortunately I didn't see a great -
as much of him as I would have liked -
because he was a seafarer.
And so he came and went and I saw him between voyages.
He was a ship's bosun and he was a leader of men,
and I was proud of the fact that he was the man
that went about the ship and told other people what to do.
He was an authoritative figure,
but not an unkindly authoritative figure.
He was my father. He was my father.
He was the head of the family.
He was a man of experience, and clever and...
able to take care of us, and equally missed when he wasn't there.
In 1927, while working on a ship in dock,
John's father was badly injured in an accident.
With his dad confined to bed, John took full advantage
of the extra time they could spend together.
I was eight years old at the time
and I used to read the paper to him -
would be the Liverpool Echo then -
and I couldn't get my mouth around some of the words,
such as "policeman" was "polisman"
and "needless" was "needles".
But he loved me reading to him.
I think... I can imagine now how touched he would have been
that I should stay in the quiet, semi-lit room
reading to him, than out playing with the other children.
Those precious evenings were the last John would ever share
with his father, who died from his injuries.
it was a sad and confusing time for John.
I can remember him lying in the, er,
tiny parlour that we had.
The coffin on two trestles.
And kissing his forehead
and finding it icy, like marble.
And there were lots of people coming to the house
and they were praising my father.
When my father was buried, we went in a...
A coach and horses,
and the horses' hooves rattled on the cobbles
and the tyres slid silently over them.
When I looked out of the window,
I could see people coming to attention and raising their hat,
touching their forehead and it impressed me greatly.
And they were respecting my father.
And even to this day,
if I see such a cortege moving along the road,
I behave in the same way, just in case there's some little boy...
..like me, who would get similar satisfaction from it.
When we got to the cemetery of course,
the coffin was lowered into a deep grave.
I never thought that graves could be so deep.
when I threw the handful of soil onto the shiny coffin lid
and it rattled on the lid,
I was filled with horror that my father was down there.
After that, I used to look for him everywhere.
I never... I never felt that he'd gone away for good.
I always felt that he would come back
like he used to between voyages,
but he never did.
With the sea in his blood,
John joined the Merchant Navy when he was just 15
and later sailed on convoys to Malta during World War II.
But wherever he was,
he always tried to live up to the example set by his father.
I wanted nothing to be said of me that would...
That my father would be ashamed of.
I always wanted to behave that he would never be ashamed of me.
And when I eventually went to sea myself,
I met some of his shipmates and they used to say,
"Oh, I remember your father.
"Fine man, your father."
They were very kind.
The love and respect with which John remembers his father is not unusual.
There's little doubt that dads in the first half of the century
often had close relationships with their children.
They might have spent long hours at work, been scarred by the war
or sometimes stern,
but to their sons and daughters,
they're also remembered as kind, devoted and inspiring.
In the inter-war years, health and welfare authorities
at last began to take seriously
the importance of a father's role in bringing up his children.
And whilst the idea of the hands-on, stay-at-home dad
that we recognise today was still some way off,
it's clear that the true picture of the father from the past
is vastly different from the negative stereotype
of popular mythology.
Next time, we reveal the effects of the Second World War
and the teenage revolution
on Britain's fathers and their children.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Series which tells the story of the revolution in modern fatherhood in Britain during the last hundred years. Using intimate testimony, rare archive footage and the latest historical research it reveals the important, and often misunderstood, role played by fathers.
The opening part explodes the popular myth of the tyrannical Victorian-style father, whose children were seen and not heard. The majority of men did not harshly punish their children: they were good and devoted dads who took their job as provider and protector of their family seriously.
Those who tragically lost their lives in the First World War are still fondly remembered by sons and daughters today. Some dads even took part in the fathercraft movement that began in 1920 and which encouraged dads to change nappies and to form close relationships with their children from the beginning.