Oral history of British science

Williams, Carol (Part 1 of 9). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    The British Library, London

  • Interviewees

    Williams, Carol, 1939- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Carol Williams [CW] born Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom [UK], [6th December 1939]. Mentions ‘camp following’ due to father’s military career; schooling, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, UK; early ability to read; move to West Mersea [WM], Essex. Comments on fishing community, WM. Mentions girls’ grammar school [GGS], Colchester. Comments on careers advice to girls, GGS. Story of enrolment by parents in secretarial course after GGS. Comments on continued education after school. [2:42] Story of work in labour exchange, aged 17. [3:28] Story of application for personal assistant post; father’s decision to fund A Levels, Colchester Technical College [CTC]. Story of decision to enrol for natural sciences A Levels, including geology. Comments on geology of Essex; interest in A Level geology, including discussion of continental drift [CD]. [6:01] Mentions reasons for not applying to University of Cambridge [UOC]; unsuccessful university applications. [6:29] Story of successful application to University of Leicester [UOL], reading geology. [7:49] Mentions lack of other female first year undergraduate geologists, UOL; interest in/enjoyment of geology degree. Story of applications for employment following degree, including post in Department of Geodesy and Geophysics [DGG], University of Cambridge [UOC]. Story of interview/appointment as Research Assistant to Drummond Matthews [DDM], DGG, 1965. [9:58] Story of father’s family background, education. Comments on father’s character, with related stories. [12:42] Comments on father’s World War Two [WW2] service; father’s post WW2 employment. [13:14] Comments on lives of/relations with paternal grandparents, with related stories. Stories of relations with paternal grandmother. Mentions father’s running of Territorial Army unit, Colchester. Comments on paternal grandmother’s/own playing of croquet. [17:25] Story of maternal grandfather’s life as Royal Navy physical instructor, then fireman. Mentions mother’s sister. Comments on maternal grandmother. Stories of living with maternal grandparents during WW2. [20:12] Mentions own schooling. Story of childhood illnesses; meeting father at end of WW2. [22:01] Story of own experiences during WW2. [24:01] Comments on time spent with father following WW2, with related stories; father’s dislike of own tone of voice. Mentions elocution classes, attended aged 14. [26:33] Story of father’s relations with own younger brother. [27:38] Mentions father’s acts of kindness; visits to grandparents, aunt/uncle. Stories of family caravan holidays, 1950s, including mention of father’s atheism. Comments on effects of WW2 on father. [31:01] Description/story of father’s WW2 experiences. [34:07] Comments on father’s management style/leadership in General Post Office [GPO], including opposition to unions; father’s positive view of civil service. [35:51] Stories of time spent as a child with mother, including living arrangements in Hitchin during WW2. [38:44] Detailed description of WM home, with related stories. [49:27] Stories of use of sailing dinghy around WM, aged 10 onwards. Mentions inspiration of Arthur Ransome’s [AR] ‘Swallows and Amazons’. [51:17] Comments on crewing for dinghy/ocean races. Description of practices of crewing. Comments on response of male crews to presence of self, with related story. Detailed comments on enjoyment of sailing. Comments on friends involved in dinghy sailing. Story of attempting to cook whole chicken on Ray Island, WM. [57:03] Stories/description of involvement on trawler fishing/drift netting. [59:01] Brief story of father night fishing. Comments on ownership of sailing boats. Story of cruise to Denmark, early 1970s. [1:02:02] Comments on reading of Enid Blyton books. Mentions ‘The Secret Garden’; choosing of children’s books for local library. Brief story of choosing father’s library books. Mentions lifelong interest in painting; childhood stamp collecting, keeping of silkworms; cat. Brief story of play in tree house. Mentions sledging. Story of cycling through sea water. [1:06:18] Further comments on childhood collecting, with related stories. Comments on making of childhood craftwork. Mentions bird nesting; listening to ‘Dick Barton Special Agent’ radio programme. Comments on childhood freedom. Mentions playing of 5 stones; blowing of birds eggs. Comments on keeping of silkworms.

  • Description

    Interview with geophysicist Dr Carol Williams

  • Related transcripts

    Dr Carol Williams interviewed by Dr 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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