Industry: water, steel & energy
Mowbray, John (1 of 6) National Life Story Collection: An Oral History of the Water Industry
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2010-11-04, 2011-02-10, 2011-06-13
Mowbray, John, 1957- (speaker, male)
Gilmour, Alison (speaker, female)
Part 1: [Session One: 4 November 2010] John Mowbray [JM], refers to being married with two children. [00:00:52] JM comments on earliest memory and the nature of JM’s memories. [00:04:14] JM quickly describes semi-detached bungalow in which JM lived aged five: layout; sleeping arrangements; existence of Anderson shelter. [00:06:50] JM describes his taste in music as being influenced by the twins [Larry and Dennis Morland] and his brother [Ian Mowbray, IM] whilst remarking on ‘Top of the Pops’ and purchasing his first record. [00:12:56] Short description of next house in which JM lived at Seaburn Dene: layout; bathroom being upgraded to include a shower; washing routine; remarks on being fortunate due to having an inside toilet. [00:17:36] Brief discussion on JM’s relationship with his siblings IM and Kath Mowbray [KM], and how this developed over time. [00:24:03] Lengthy discussion on JM’s relationship with his parents, mother [Sheila Mowbray nee Morland, SM] and father [Bill Mowbray, BM], their background and nature: comments on family activities; JM’s dread of being disciplined by parents; SM’s employment in the telephone exchange; physical description of SM; [00:34:48] BM’s employment as General Manager of Coles Cranes then Robalo; BM writing to JM when he was abroad and JM’s childhood perception of BM. [00:38:48] JM comments on his parents’ aspirations for him. [00:41:03] Description of childhood holidays: camping trips to North Yorkshire and Cornwall; family house exchange in London; trip to New Forest campsite during 1966 Football World Cup; school trips abroad in 1968 and 1970; Majorca with parents in 1970. [00:49:24] Brief description of a typical childhood Christmas day. [00:53:27] JM comments on common meals consumed during childhood including weekly Sunday roast, favourite food, changes to eating habits. [00:57:17] Briefly comments on contact with paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother. JM remarks on reading and family evening activities including games and listening to the radio; mentions watching television. [01:00:25] Comments on learning about current affairs and family discussion. JM remarks on being the youngest in the family. [1:04:57] Short discussion on JM’s attendance at St Benet’s Church: BM’s conversion to Catholicism; siblings’ participation in wider church activities; as an adult no longer attending church; JM’s desire to send his children to Catholic school. [01:10:32] Discussion on JM attending St Benet’s Roman Catholic Primary School: description of building, uniform, discipline and JM’s first experience of receiving the cane; mentions teachers Mr McHugh, Miss Thomson, Miss Mullen and Mr Arkle; remarks on not having to complete the Eleven Plus; elements of primary school JM enjoyed; school friends Chris, Alan, Micky; JM explains significance of geographical location in determining who sat the Eleven Plus; JM remarks on Eleven Plus as divisive; [01:22:26] thoughts on having to start school [01:24:10] religious education; quality of education. [01:25:38] Discussion on JM attending secondary school [St Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Secondary School]: transition as scary; nature of the school as strict; JM’s awareness of bullying at school; playing football; [01:32:54] JM’s secondary school friends as Steve Murray, Lynn and Martin Killeen and his relationship with them now; [01:35:08] JM’s academic performance; [01:38:28] preparing for O Levels; anecdotal remark on being sent home from school to get hair cut; [01:41:16] JM’s relationship with parents whilst at secondary school; [01:42:22] JM’s reaction to O Level results; [01:43:13] sitting A Levels in Maths, Economics and History at St Aidan’s Catholic School. [01:43:59] JM briefly explains decision to pursuing a career in accounting. [1:46:40] JM remarks on himself as a school leaver. [1:48:32] JM describes the development of his relationship with wife [Lynn Mowbray nee Dooley]: initial activities; shared interests; getting engaged aged 18; married in 1978; reflective comments on convention of engagement and marriage compared to contemporary relationships; JM remarks on his children, Laura Mowbray  and Martin Mowbray . [01:54:26] Discussion on JM’s early work experiences and influences on his decision to study accountancy through Sunderland Council trainee programme instead of university: summer job aged 15; temporary job after leaving St Aiden’s in 1976 in the Treasurers’ Department in Sunderland Council [SC]; offer of trainee accountant job with SC and placement on trainee accountant programme with assurance of accountant’s job on successful completion; continuing education at Durham College and accountancy qualifications; placed in SC’s Technical Department; escalated to early responsibility for managing team of up to thirty-five people on sudden death of Arthur Gray and his successor Allan Sayers. [01:58:15] JM briefly comments on interview for placement on SC trainee accountant programme. Reflective remarks on potential learning opportunities at university: JM remarks parents did not go to university; inadequate careers advice in school. JM comments on SC trainee accountant programme: job security during mid-1970s; nature of programme; location at Pity Me; attendance at New College, Framwellgate Moor in Durham. [02:12:28] Mentions origins of village name of Pity Me. [02:13:22] JM describes the nature and variety of work as trainee accountant: comments on types of technology used in early days of computerised systems; physical check of ledgers by a ‘comp’ using a key-driven mechanical comptometer; remarks ‘comp’ staff were always female; use of punch card machines; size and limitations of computer system; remarks on experience shaping his later management style.[02:20:33] Description of structure of trainee accountant programme in Public Finance and Accountancy including the application of JM’s final dissertation project: subject areas studied in college: first block-release year in college; subsequent years of external training in college rotating between block release and on job training; short description of JM’s dissertation topic on setting up an in-house insurance risk model; adopted by council; JM remarks former colleague [Dave Francis] now runs system and regarded as top risk manager in country; comments on undertaking research for dissertation prior to internet; brief comment on insurance system prior to adoption of JM’s model; use of external agency Municipal and Mutual subsequently taken over by Zurich insurance company; model to JM’s now being used by Northumbrian Water [NW].
Life Story Interview with John Mowbray, Director Of Corporate Affairs, Northumbrian Water