Leni Cooper remembers how Family Ties helped her get a Job at John Player & Sons


Leni Cooper writes:

"My maternal grandfather John Thomas Thraves started work at John Player & Sons in 1900. Initially he was employed as a cigarette machine operator but by the time he retired he was an electrician. I can remember that he was incredibly proud of his long service certificate that was framed and used to hang in the hall of my grandparent’s home in Hazelwood Road. I can remember my grandfather saying that Mr Player used to walk round the factory most days and would often pass the time of day with his employees. I think it was fairly standard to receive a gold pocket watch in recognition of 50 years of loyal service to the company. Sadly, my grandfather only had 2/3 years of retirement before he passed away but I can remember him taking me with him when he went to collect his weekly pension – that was either from the Player Street entrance (where I eventually worked) or the original old entrance opposite No.2 Factory on Radford Boulevard. Whenever I was able to, I used to visit nearby ‘Rogues Gallery’ that contained the photographs of retired employees – just to see the one of my grandfather! Incidentally, my mother used to tell me that before the photos went into the Rogues Gallery – the subjects wrinkles were smoothed out – so they all looked more youthful! First stages of ‘Photoshop’!

My mother Sonia Thraves also joined the company – I believe that she worked in cigarette making.  It seems that she may have been something of an ‘activist’ in her younger days as she used to tell me that for some reason that I cannot now recall, there was some kind of protest in the factory that she was involved in. I know she was definitely working there up until her marriage when she had to resign because married women weren’t allowed to work in those days. When WW2 broke out and men were enlisting, married women were welcomed back into work to keep production going to help with the war effort.

My parents met in Cleethorpes – my father worked there and my mother was on holiday with her parents. Apparently, it was love at first sight and my father ended up moving to Nottingham and, after much persistence, eventually managed to get a job in 1939 during the construction of (I think) No 3 Factory.  He worked in the engineers section, finally transferring to the Stores department at Wilton Road.  Shortly after receiving his 25 year service award – a silver ash tray – he resigned to follow a dream.

I left school without any qualifications, working as a trainee cutter at Debenhams Manufacturing on Terrace Street, Hyson Green but only stuck at it for 6 months before moving to one of the Staddon & Son shops on Radford Road. Seeking an increase in both prospects and pay, I decided to apply to Players – by actually walking into the personnel department and asking if there were any vacancies. I was interviewed there and then, asked if any family members either worked or had worked for the company and given a ‘staff test’ to take.  A date was made for my medical examination by the company doctor – subject to which I would be offered a position.  I remember my father being amazed that I had had passed the staff test, although I suspect that my success may have had more to with the fact that I was continuing a family tradition working for the company."


Leni Cooper


Leni Cooper


John Tom Thaves (Leni Cooper's grandad).jpg



Leni Cooper, “Leni Cooper remembers how Family Ties helped her get a Job at John Player & Sons,” People at Players, accessed March 1, 2024, https://peopleatplayers.omeka.net/items/show/33.


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