Letter: Harriett was a grand lady

This letter sent to the Star was written by Vin Malone, Sutton In Ashfield, NG17

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 6:47 am
Harriet Dowson in George Butlers buffing shop, you can see the conditions she worked in.

I received news today which I knew was getting closer with every passing day, a Sheffield lady passed away age 99. Her name was Harriet Dowson and she was a breed of special ladies, a buffer, and I knew her during my privileged years working in the cutlery industry.

Harriet didn’t fit the profile of buffers, she was quietly spoken and unlike the other buffers I remember, I never heard her curse or complain about anything in the buffing shop on George Butlers on Sidney Street.

Unknown to many people the site is now just a horrible car park and the building that stood there held some great memories for me and some horrible ones, but Harriet slots nicely into the great memories. From the very first time she spoke to me with a soft “hello”, she was a friend.

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Harriet Dowson

The buffing shop was dark and dirty. As soon as the ladies started work they were covered in buffing sand.

The ladies did their best to keep their little dinner table and its area clean as they could, but Harriet always brightened up the dismal shop.

When she retired I did lose contact with her and I moved when Butlers relocated miles out of its traditional cutlery area but we bumped into each on the Moor. She was with her daughter Susan, another softly spoken lady. We exchanged phone numbers and we did keep in touch and bumped into them while they were out shopping, Harriet still had that twinkle in her eye and was still as bright as a button.

She lived alone during her last years despite Susan begging her to go and live with her.

She was one of the old school, independent to the end, but sadly she succumbed last Sunday. She will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her. It’s sad she didn’t reach her 100th birthday and her card from the Queen.