Joan grew up in Otley Road, just a stone’s throw from the West Ham dog-racing stadium, where her grandmother’s whippets competed. By the standards of their neighbourhood, her family were relatively well-off, and Joan’s parents were the proud owners of such luxury items as a fridge, a Ford 10 and a caravan at Burnham-on-Crouch, where they would frequently drag her at the weekends. Although her mother believed Joan was too good to become ‘factory fodder’, Joan insisted on getting herself a job at Tate & Lyle, drawn by the exciting social life on offer, and was employed as a sugar-packer on the Hesser Floor. She spent all her wages on buying the latest fashions and went out dancing with her new friends every weekend. Joan’s carefree life was shattered, however, when she became pregnant by her soldier boyfriend – would he recognise the child as his own, or would the family be plunged into scandal?
Listen to Joan talking about the sugar girls’ social life: