Oral history of British science

Thomson, Janet (Part 1 of 8). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s home, North Yorkshire

  • Interviewees

    Thomson, Janet, 1942- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Janet Thomson [JT], born Sedgley, Staffordshire, December 1942. Comments on home Amblecote, Stourbridge. Mentions parents’ separation; little contact with father; move to Berkshire aged 9. Description of road end and garden at Amblecote, including ‘wilder’ area and adjacent field/river/meadowland. Comments on playing in field with older sister Pam. Story of finding dead mole. [04:22] Comments on mother’s reluctance for JT to play with local children; distance from school friends; sense of family as ‘inward-looking’. Mentions sister’s social confidence in contrast to own. [06:49] Description of interior of Amblecote house. Mentions older brother. [09:13] Description of interior decoration/furnishing/appliances. Mentions car; parents marriage, divorce, remarriage, separation; parents’ previous home in Ealing, London before WW2 (World War Two); mother and siblings evacuation; father’s engineering business in London (reserved occupation due to wind tunnel experimentation); half-brothers; father’s funeral. [14:21] Story of occasional visits by father. Description of father. Mentions mother’s appearance; contact with father as young adult. Comments on contrast between own and sister’s relations with father; father’s life/career. Mentions brother’s Marconi apprenticeship. [18:33] Comments on father’s view of women’s suitability for secretarial work, rather than university education; father’s influence on family through financial maintenance. [20:38] Story of father’s sale of Amblecote house, 1951; move to maternal grandfather’s chalet, Purley, Berkshire. Mentions move to house uncle’s house. 1954. Description of chalet, site of chalet, surrounding landscape. Story of feeding horses, boating on River Thames. Mentions mother’s return to private school teaching, 1947. Story of being in mother’s class. [28:06] Comments on maternal grandmother; mother’s siblings; maternal grandfather. [30:04] Comments on paternal grandparents; relations with father’s younger sister. Description of maternal grandfather’s role in household. Mentions maternal grandfather’s remarriage. Comments on time spent with grandfather outside; grandfather’s deafness. [36:18] Description of land at end of road, Amblecote. Mentions local glassworks; collieries; coal deliveries. [39:16] Comments on childhood pass times: dolls houses, playing cards.

  • Description

    Life story interview with geologist Janet Thomson

  • Related transcripts

    Janet Thomson interviewed by Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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