Banking & finance

Hart, Edwina (1 of 6) National Life Stories: City Lives

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    City Lives

  • Recording locations

    Lloyd's of London

  • Interviewees

    Hart, Edwina, 1957-, (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Perks, Robert, (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 (tape 1 side A): Born Swansea 26 April 1957. Mother a music teacher - father a shop steward in Engineering Union. She is an only child - unusual in her generation. Describes the place where she grew up. Says it was very ordinary though there were good schools and hers was a very happy childhood. She had a good grammar school education and was very active musically. - involved with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. Always encouraged to do things and formulate her own opinions. Lived in 3-bedroomed semi-detached house in a (then) very pleasant area. Now much of it has been built on. Remembers playing with friends from school and cousins who lived nearby. Father's brothers and a sister lived in same road. Father was one of eleven children and the difference in age between the youngest and the eldest was about 20 years. She enjoyed talking with all her elderly relatives and hearing about their childhood experiences. Her mother taught music at home so was always there. She visited her grandmother often - she lived nearby - died when Edwina was about 17. Grandma had vivid recollections of growing up prior to the First World War and Edwina found these stories fascinating. Also hearing about grandma's two sisters who were much younger and who left home and did adventurous things. Grandma was the one who stayed at home. Most Sunday mornings were spent going from one to the other of these older relatives, chatting, listening to their stories, eating their cakes fresh from the oven. Realises - now that she has a daughter of her own - how valuable her extended family network is. She still lives in the same area and her parents live with her. Her family was originally a family of weavers. Having a large number of cousins all within easy reach meant that she never felt isolated as so often an only child does. She also got used to listening to other people's problems and never really thought about her own. Thinks this is why she eventually became active in the trade union movement - she was sincerely concerned about people. As a child she remembers being impressed by the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and wondering how governments could allow such bombing and killing. She also worried about what was happening to the children and what would be the long-term effects upon them. Her most vivid recollection is of her realisation, at a very early age, that life seems very unfair sometimes. - especially where she lived and she observed what was happening in the pits and the steelworks - people's jobs were disappearing, works were being shut down. Lists the values which her parents had passed on to her - absolute honesty, a belief in one's self and one's opinions and a respect for the opinions of others. Mother is a Tory and always has been. She has only once voted Labour and that was in 1945. She does not know, to this day, how her father votes. He teases her daughter that he votes for the Green Party. She thinks that he had socialistic values when she, Edwina, was a child but has become steadily more reactionary in his views. Her parents have had no influence at all in the formulation of her political views. Talks about the effects of the miners' strikes on the activities of herself and her teenage friends. Father was a shop-steward in the 1960's and early '70's with TOSTRAY and she used to go to union meetings as a child. She describes her father as a typical member of the AEU and a typical craft member - it was a different brand of trade unionism from that which she is used to now. He is a retired member now - has kept up his membership dues and attends meetings regularly unlike most union members. She could not describe his work - never took an interest in it or in visiting his place of work. At home his job was to do the gardening, painting, decorating - mother did the cooking. Father worked shifts. She, herself, was never expected to help with household chores - not even to clean her own bedroom. She sometimes did some cooking but only because she enjoyed it and then only with her grandmother when she visited her. At 16 years of age she had a job in a pub at weekends to earn some money. She was expected to practise her viola-playing. Mother taught piano since she qualified at the age of 17 or 18. During the Second World War her teaching was interrupted when she enrolled in the 'Wrens' (Women's Royal Navy Volunteer Reserves). She teaches to a very high standard - takes students 'all the way through' and is an excellent musician. At first her mother was very keen for Edwina to study piano but says that by the age of 7 she knew that she did not want her mother 'bossing her about'. Her aunt had played violin and toured with ENSA during the War so Edwina started violin lessons - mother encouraged and helped her and accompanied her on the piano. She remembers the great pleasure she felt at the age of 13 or 14 being able to play duets with her mother as equals. Her mother also encouraged her to audition for the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and she was accepted much to her surprise. Later she also played the viola and thus had more chance of joining a chamber group, there being too many violinists and not enough viola players. She recalls wonderful summers when she toured the globe with various orchestras and choirs. She made a conscious decision not to make music her profession - she was not sufficiently committed . Decided to study law and applied to King's College, London. Her 'A' Level results were not good enough and she failed to get a place there. Finally went to Swansea University and studied Politics and Philosophy. Gave up her musical activities (not having enough time to maintain the necessary very high standard) and remembers her mother's great disappointment. She was the first member of her entire family including about 30 cousins to get a university place. Family very proud of her. Talks of the effect on her relationships and also about her work at university. Soon realised she was not university material and got engaged to a boy she met during her first year. She met him in a pub. Decided to leave and get a job and that is how she came to work in the Bank. Talks here about her parents' religion. Mother church, father chapel. She was made to go to church as a child and also to Sunday School. She had no great belief or faith. Eventually she gave up going altogether - though she remained long enough to be confirmed.

  • Description

    Interview with Edwina Hart, a Welsh Labour politician who worked in banking. Hart was active in the trade union movement and was elected as the first female president of banking union BIFU.

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