Pioneering women

Bush, Amy (4 of 5) National Life Story Collection: Fawcett Collection

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  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    00:31:30

  • Shelf mark

    C468/008

  • Subjects

    Education; Politics; Women's Movement

  • Recording date

    1991-28-03

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Bush, Amy 1905-2000 (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Grenier, Janet (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: Early life, grandparents, etc. Can't tell much. Father family man. Family did things together. Took her round London. Went by tram to London Bridge and then walked. Got to know London well. Went to Tower or St Paul's. Sometimes walked from Piccadilly. Was treated as an adult. Father keen on education. Taught her things girls not normally taught, e.g. to row at Battersea Park. Father was in Third Battalion of Grenadier Guards. Took part in the relief of Gordon in Egypt. Told some stories of his army life. After Gordon relieved, came home via Cyprus. Didn't say very much about his army life. Met A.B's mother before he went to Egypt. He was a friend of mother's brother. Army barracks were in Windsor. School days - L. Podsuz had no influence on her in school. Pupils not respectful as she lisped. A.B. saw more of her when she went back to University. L.P. started teaching life in a village school. Descriptions of what her teaching life was like there. Used to bring numbers down by sending children home for a day to help out. A.B. did not know much about her background. L.P. didn't talk about suffrage. After retirement, went to Algiers to teach reading and writing. Then came back to England and joined the Women's Freedom League. A.B. and suffrage. No talk about it at home. In l928 wasn't particularly interested. Had lots of interests such as youth work. In l937 got her Diploma in Nursery Work. Applied to LCC for paid leave of absence to take course. The reply was, "Yes"; a year's leave but no pay. Fee - £37. When she asked why she would get no pay was told that as she was married her husband would support her. Men did get paid. This really riled her. In any case she couldn't take it up because the war came. Teaching - Marriage bar in l93l so had to leave. No equal pay; women got 4/5 of men's salaries. Reason for going into teaching - not much open to women. Needlework, Civil Service, telephone. Some of her classmates went to University; three or four to Training College. A.B. not brilliant; besides, University was four years and teacher training only two. Needed to earn money. Got a bursary of £45 a year. Needed to be financially independent. Started teaching in l925. Great difficulty in finding a job. Few vacancies. Got 2-3 weeks supply work in an Open Air School in Battersea Park, for children with T.B. Couldn't get onto the list of first appointments in London. Couldn't leave home as mother a widow. Saw a hospital teaching job advertised and got it. When hospital school extended, got her friend on. Some newly qualified teachers walked the streets. Stayed at the Hospital School for two years, then applied for a Church School. Jobs difficult to find until the war. During the war women did everything, e.g. woman in a bank job went onto the counter where previously only men were allowed to serve. After the war women went back to their old jobs. In Infant Schools all the heads were women. LCC very fair. Not like in the country where education authorities appointed women teachers because they were cheaper. Labour Party - no discussion of women's issues. Preoccupied with winning power. Equal opportunities and access through voluntary organisations. The one or two women in parliament didn't bring up questions of equality. Could there have been more women MP's? Very few women put forward. A.B. nominated for panel for interviews to become a parliamentary candidate. Had two interviews but decided that it wasn't her cup of tea. Interviewed at Clapham and Harrow. Decided to stick to local government. In Wandsworth, Pat Llewellyn Davies, a candidate, used to come to A.B.'s house to rest. A.B. realised how she worked and how she was attacked. No encouragement from other women. Fighting an election was not for her. Marriage not a factor. P.L.D. had three children; wanted from 4-6 p.m. each day for children, and did get it. Very dedicated and ambitious. Encouraged by her husband. Famous aunt in Wales; Margaret Llewellyn, who did a great deal for women. When A.B. became Mayor, husband dead, so no "Consort". Would have had no encouragement from him, but it wouldn't have mattered as he had his own interests. Council - No prejudice. No antagonism in local government as there was in parliament. Difficulty in getting women MP's - don't put themselves forward. Women still do the humdrum jobs in politics. Not put forward as candidates. Unless they have no children or are very committed, difficult. A.B. didn't feel becoming Mayor was one of her great achievements. Just happened after some years. Eleanor Goodrich, an old suffragette who had been on the council since l934, one of the first Labour members, encouraged A.B. to put up her name as Mayor. Suffragettes did go into local politics, but a lot of enthusiasm gone once the vote was obtained. Since the war have realised that the vote doesn't give you everything. The Fawcett Society realises that you must have legislation. The Townswomen's Guild is for equality but not pushy. A.B. thinks that until what you want is on the statute book, there is nothing behind you, e.g. the recent rape of wives action.

  • 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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