Oral history of British science

Wood, Sir Martin and Lady Audrey (Part 1 of 11)

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  • Subjects

    Scientific Instruments

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewees' home, Abingdon

  • Interviewees

    Wood, Sir Martin, 1927- (speaker, male), Wood, Lady Audrey,1927- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 [53:54] [21 November 2011] Remarks about MW's plans for life after school: talking to teacher about choice between a physicist or engineer, deciding to become an engineer to avoid maths; choosing to study engineering at Cambridge; story about visiting recruiting office at Thame, near Great Milton, and choosing to become a miner. [05:20] Comments on mining in Wales: choosing to go to the South Wales coal field; elements of mining training; conditions and old fashioned nature of Welsh mine; description of working on the coal face; [10:02] conditions underground; pit ponies and working with tools. [14:15] Comments on working in later mine in Derbyshire: mechanisation methods making work quite easy; description of using a coal cutter; description of working in mine; MW feelings about mining. [19:20] Remarks on: relationship with other miners, laughed at but respected; fossilised tree trunks in mine roof. [20:04] Remarks on AW's time at Cambridge: studying Natural Science Tripos part one, botany, zoology, biochemistry and organic chemistry; decision to marry first husband leading to her studying English Literature instead; Leavis style of literary criticism being valuable for running a company; reasons for choosing to study natural science initially, not wanting to follow sisters into medicine, influence of teacher. [23:00] MW & AW remarks on teachers at school: AW teacher Joan Kemp; teachers interested in subject and enthused pupils. [24:10] Remarks on AW: enjoying evolutionary biology and biochemistry; high proportion of men at Cambridge; many opportunities to go out; long vacation term; MW remarks on AW's analytical style of writing; anecdote about AW over-analysing poem for a tutor; change in between sciences and English; [27:45] AW helping MW write difficult letters; different enjoyments and teaching in English and science courses; attending Girton College; lunches at Girton waiting rooms in Cambridge centre; [31:00] full social life at Cambridge, many male students after war; National Milk Cocoa and effects of rationing. [32:20] MW Remarks on extra rations for miners making them popular lodgers. [34:15] AW remarks on: decision to change from science to English, fiancé studying Zoology, wanted a wider education; treating Cambridge as a wide education, considering she might become a teacher; meeting fiancé Andrew Buxton on science course; choice of English literature; tutors Miss Bradbrook and Peggy Brown/Varney, who AW kept in touch with; tutorials with Peggy Brown; AW acting with the mummers, playing hockey and swimming for Cambridge. [39:00] Comments on life in Uganda: husband Andrew Buxton a mammalogist at Virus Research Institute in Entebbe; birth of first child Robin; problems at Virus Research Institute, change in employment from Uganda Government to East African Community; husband offered university lectureship in Kampala; death of husband from Poliomyelitis, son Robin's illness from Polio; daughter Sarah. [42:10] Remarks on return to England: AW sister paediatrician; Robin's rehabilitation and exercising; AW and children living with in-laws at Gerrards Cross. [45:10] Story about AW meeting MW, a family friend, through his help in making a better set of callipers for Robin; description of callipers, made by MW at Royal School of Mines workshops. [48:30] AW remarks on living in Uganda 1950-52: formal lunches at Government House; long flight out to Uganda by Sunderland flying boat; colonial club; Virus Research Institute outside town with own community; servants; limited interaction with local community; feelings about life in Uganda, busy with children, loving Africa.

  • Description

    Interview with scientific instrument designers and entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood

  • Related transcripts

    Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit the 'Voices of Science' web resource for extracts from Martin and Audrey Wood's interview

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