Pioneering women

Bush, Amy (1 of 5) National Life Story Collection: Fawcett Collection

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  • Subjects

    Education; Politics; Women's Movement

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Bush, Amy 1905-2000 (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Grenier, Janet (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Birthplace, Battersea. Father retired from Grenadier Guards and became a gardener. Brother and sister, much older so on her own a lot. Grandmother, invalid in Windsor. Dominated family from her bed. Happy childhood. Father interested in social questions. Children allowed to talk and discuss and express opinions at meals. Father always doing things for people - influence on Amy for later involvement in voluntary work. Mother, little influence. Little money, but both parents keen on education. All three children received grammar school education. Amy at school until l8 years old. Required great effort by parents. Ordinary schoolgirl, no special friends. Favourite subject history. Went to teacher-training college (Furzedown?) for two years. Board of Education teaching certificate. Credit subject biology. Twenty five years later, after losing a local election, went back to university for academic diploma on the principles of teaching. Met old English teacher, Miss Podzus, who had been a suffragette. Became interested in women's movement through her. Left l927, employment conditions bad. Taught in Hospital School in Carshalton; then St Mary Abbotts C of E School in London for three years. Met future husband at Battersea Parish Church. Married l93l and had to leave job. Housewife for four years. Involved in guides and youth work. Husband analytical chemist, interested in scouts. Got teaching post (having taken courses to qualify to teach infants) in church school, Christ Church, Chelsea. Church schools did not have marriage bar. Moved from Battersea to Wandsworth Common. At one stage had both mother and mother-in-law living with them. Didn't work when Amy went back to work; got flat for mother-in-law. When war broke out, Christ Church School evacuated to New Denham. After one year children were drifting back to London, so teachers sent back. Amy to Stepney. All London schools closed so teachers running field kitchens etc. Amy cooking at Brick Lane, Stepney. Lord Mayor decided City needed kitchen for City employees, so moved. Blitzed after l0 days so served soup and tea on the pavement. So many children back in London, schools re-opened. Amy cycled from Wandsworth to school in Stepney. Then moved to Surrey Lane School in Battersea where she stayed until the end of the war. Promoted to headteacher, Wyvil Infant School, Lambeth. There until retirement, nineteen years later. Joined Labour Party in l943; influenced by Ellen Wilkinson's book, The Town That Was Murdered. (Jarrow in the thirties). In l945 decided to run for Wandsworth Council (a Tory area) just so there would be a name on the list. Won - Labour landslide. Spent 30 years on Council. (Mother had tried to put her off politics when young). Chairman of Public Health Committee first, but biggest interest libraries. Chairman Libraries Committee for l0 years. Developed a prison library, boxes of books for hospitals and a mobile library. Involvement in Women's Freedom League. Joined before war while teaching in Stepney. Saw copy of The Bulletin (WFL publication). Noticed that treasurer was her old English teacher, Lilia Podzus. Got in touch and joined in l940. Involved in two campaigns - one for women to keep nationality after marriage. Fawcett Society and WFL involved. Lobbied government, and when Labour got in after the war law was changed. Other campaign - to secure equal compensation for women injured in the war. Canvassed and was member of deputation to see Clement Atlee. Delegate of Fire Brigade Union pointed out that women ambulance drivers received only 3?5 of what men got if injured. Legislation was introduced for equal compensation. (These activities before election to Wandsworth Council).

  • Description

    Life story interview with the late educationist, Amy Bush (1905-2000)

  • Related transcripts

    Amy Bush interviewed by Janet Grenier: full transcript of the interview

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