Oral history of British science

Wood, Sir Martin and Lady Audrey (Part 2 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 2 [59:54] Remarks on progression of MW's mining career: 2 1/2 years in Wales followed by period on Derbyshire after repeal of control of engagement order 1947; miserable conditions at mechanised mine in Derbyshire; demobilisation; Bevin boys generally not liking mining as much as MW; physical therapist Philip Gamble treating MW after mining shifts; [04:15 pause] MW obtaining Coal Board scholarship for Cambridge and Royal School of Mines before returning to mining; MW disillusionment with poor running of mines; eventual move to physics department at Oxford. [05:30] Remarks on MW disillusionment mining: poor management and staff relations in mines; degradation in management on nationalisation; lack of management training; run down of mining industry; learning much but glad to leave. [09:15] Remarks on MW time at Cambridge: complications in studying engineering leading him to initially study natural sciences; lack of family knowledge of science; difficulties with some parts of natural sciences but enjoying geology; change to studying pass degree in engineering suiting him well; wide content of engineering degree, including management; course mates tending to be sons of established engineers; MW enjoying drawing and geology aspects of course. [13:10] Further remarks on MW engineering drawing: anecdote about career testing of young MW highlighting his abilities in the mental manipulation of shapes; MRI machine drawings; value of skills in building work at home. [16:30] Remarks on start of Oxford Instruments: MW designing equipment, AW doing admin; MW anecdote about value of AW's skills to start of business; AW and MW's scientific background, value of AW's English skills. [18:30] Remarks on: value of university experience, AW analytical skills, MW technical knowledge; MW hard work in Cambridge but not enjoying Natural Science's; MW social life and good friends Martin Dent and Martin Brunt; family connection to Buxton family by marriage. [21:40] Remarks on MW interest in forestry: maintaining school forest; parent's wood in Kent; story about purchase of a wood, then their current home nearby; start of Sylva foundation. [25:40] Remarks on: MW interests in Cambridge, not considering himself a social person at the time; very interested in engineering work, particularly mechanical. [27:30] Story about MW's start at Clarendon Lab at Oxford: MW offered a job by Alexander Thom; taking on of teaching responsibilities; MW work for Nicholas Kurti in physics department making equipment; anecdote about Kurti's helpful reaction when MW proposed to launch a company; MW designing magnets for students; MW deciding to launch a company. [32:30] Story about MW's early bad experience in working in a factory as a youth during war, when he was unrewarded for increasing production, MW feelings about poorly run industry. [37:00] Remarks on: dangers in mining; story about MW's narrow escape from an explosives accident in Welsh mine; miner's blue scars. [43:45] Remarks about Royal School of Mines: MW's hope to reform running of mines; run down of coal industry in UK compared to around the world; MW's studies at Royal School fo Mines, engineering, drawing, mine planning; practical elements to course and visits to mines. [47:00] Remarks on: AW and MW first meeting; MW interest in Church brass rubbing; AW and MW meeting through Buxton family connections rather than overlapping in Cambridge; MW and AW's early relationship, reasons for attraction; anecdote about MW girlfriend Lucy Buxton marrying AW boyfriend Geoffrey Chandler; AW and MW 1955 marriage in Whaley Bridge; restrictions on life in 1950s, such foreign currency limits. [53:25] Description of MW and AW and life after marriage: caring for children; MW's digs in Ashby-de-la-Zouch with dwarf physiotherapist, who moved into his chicken house to allow MW and AW the use of his house, before his own marriage; anecdote about moving house; MW and AW home life and MW's long mining hours; MW hard decision to leave pits after education.

  • 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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