Oral history of British science
Coombs, Mary (Part 8 of 9). An Oral History of British Science.
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Coombs, Mary, 1929- (speaker, female)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 8: Remarks on: stopping teaching at West Wycombe School after differences of opinions with headteacher; finding temporary work at Wiggins Teape paper manufacturers from an agency, and Mastercare, before being sent to ESMIL Water Systems Limited, a water treatment company, where she stayed for 7 years. Remarks on: later being the only person in the buying department left after redundancies, having become permanent staff, convenience of job as it was close to home. [4:33] Further remarks on ESMIL: bought out by Hoogevens, Dutch steel company; activities included dirty water processing and water purification, for customers such as the nuclear research establishment at Aldermaston, a Harare electrical plant, Kodak, and the electronics industry. Remarks on surprise at redundancies, being the only one in the buying company left with a job. Remarks on name of company, director's number plate. [08:49] Comments on working with Japanese and Korean consultant engineers who supplied much of their work, finding ways of keeping consultants happy, importance of providing spares. [12:46] Remarks on working in Sands district of Wycombe, arrival of a restructuring consultant, move of company to further away Amersham, sale of firm to Yorkshire Water, MC remaining to close down operations. [16:20] Comments on redundancy and pension arrangements at 64. [17:20] Remarks on leaving teaching: loving teaching; not happy with situation before retirement; expecting headteacher to make her redundant; sorry to leave but seemed right thing to do; other activities such as Choir, music teaching, running Cub Scout pack. [19:44] Comments on Cub Scouts: sons members, joined when they were short on staff, eventually became troop leader, reasons for enjoying activities. [21:15] Comments on not enjoying Cub advance training course: worried about illness of fellow troop leader, competition with another Mary on the course, disliked encounter groups. Remarks on fads and multi-question tests [short pause - phone]. [25:25] Comments on few changes over teaching career. Comments on teaching at Frieth School: major emphasis on basic literacy and numeracy skills at Frieth; sport, chess and art important; no specific exam preparation; many tests, including Richmond Tests. [30:20] Description of class arrangements at Frieth, importance of individual work, good school results. [32:24] Comments on introduction of computing to schools, reservations over computers in schools. Remarks on influences on the character of a school, such as influence of headteacher. [35:43] Discussion on teaching in MC's life: enjoying the one to one contact; feelings about children being treated fairly but not the same; possibly being a doctor if not a teacher. [38:04] Remarks on being sorry to leave computing but having other interests to pursue, preferring what ever activity she is currently engaged in. Description of Terrapin temporary teaching block and teaching in them. [41:15] Comments on involvement with Spastics Society: got involved due to disabled daughter; physiotherapy centre nearby; lack of formal education for disabled children prior to 1960s; role of Wycombe branch in lobbying Spastics Society to build a Wycombe school for handicapped children; [44:51] husband becoming regional chairman; renaming to Scope; differences types of disabilities; [47:30] leaving society as they were not happy with its direction; helping fund-raising; support for daughter; MC public speaking for the society. [50:50] Further remarks on involvement with Cub Scouts, uniforms, activities, leaving to concentrate on teaching. [53:47] Further remarks on ESMIL Water: size of company, description of office, next to Stewart plastics, MC's role in the buying team.
Interview with computer programmer Mary Coombs.