Oral history of British science

Wood, Sir Martin and Lady Audrey (Part 7 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 7 [29:32] Comments on growth of OI over 1970s, increasing turnover over years, with reference to graph in 'Magnetic Venture'. [02:30] Comments on: 1965 move to Osney Mead boathouse; development and operation of Oxford Cryogenics liquid helium milk round, competition with BOC, based in old laundry building; growth in 1970s; AW role as director and company secretary; value of AW letter writing skills in winning Queen's award and in helping MW write letters; MW role in 1970s, associated with Clarendon, much marketing work, links to many customers through Kurti; [09:00] importance of Simon, Kurti and Mendelssohn, to Clarendon. [09:45] AW quotation from Magnetic Venture describing difficult conditions in the 1970s; 1970s worries over cash flow, superconductors shortages. [11:35] Remarks about beginnings of OI involvement in making super conductors in 1980s: BOC owned AirCo company in USA, OI wanting an American site, OI joint venture with BOC; superconducting electromagnet production and cold farm to keep magnets cool; expansion of superconducting wire manufacturing; orders for ITER reactor; OI buying out BOC. [14:35] Remarks on: AW duties as company secretary; interest in MRI; longevity of dilution refrigerator business; early development of superconductivity at Leiden by Kamerlingh Onnes; Barry Marsden's pessimistic nature balancing MW and AW's optimism; MW activities marketing and holding everything together; MW quotation on growth of company in 1970s and question of where was the company going. [19:45] Remarks on MW and AW desire to share ownership of OI with employees: democratic nature; loyalty to staff; distribution of shares to pension and trust funds; 1968 sales of shares to senior staff. [21:40] Comments on expectations of where company was going: desire not to be typical capitalists; interest in products produced; patriotism; democratic expectations of wanting workers involved; lack of understanding of backers and bank manager. [24:20] Comments on: OI never feeling like a big company; decentralisation and centralisation; guiding concerns, medical not core business, director suggesting they abandon magnets; reasons for success of OI by end of 1970s, MD Barry Marsden; current MD Jonathan Flint's commercial focus; further reasons for OI success, MNR, MRI market, support of banks, becoming a respected name, Queen's Awards

  • 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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