Oral history of British science
Raynor, Frank (Part 16 of 18) An Oral History of British Science
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Interviewee's home, Abingdon
Raynor, Frank, 1922- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 16: [1:00:56] Description of Culham site: former airfield; lower security than Harwell; international cooperation in later years after construction of JET reactor; Building D1, where FR worked; description of inside of FR workshop; nearby storerooms. [04:35] Remarks on: FR colleagues in electronics service group; overall leader Burt Read, formerly of EMI; long term design group on floor above FR group; duties of FR group as service to experimental group. [07:30] Remarks on FR duties: administration; keeping hands on experience; change of group duties after FR retired; paperwork; heavy paperwork as Health and Safety Executive [HSE] became more involved; anecdote about HSE complaint over lack of notices in lab; [pause 11:15] FR feelings about change in health and safety culture, few accidents previously, colleagues opinion's on health and safety; FR paperwork, increasing cost consciousness, time-sheets, accounting procedures; [15:20] civil service annual budgeting arrangements; electronic service group spending dependent on other group's use of them. [18:27] Remarks on staff: recruiting staff, advertising; trying to fill vacancies internally from various UKAEA groups nationwide; high quality of UKAEA apprenticeship schemes; encouraging staff to get promoted out; interview panels; training and guidance, group helping each other; staff applying for outside posts; FR not thinking of himself as a civil servant; [25:55] FR pleased to lose staff if they moved on to higher grades. [26:45] Remarks on building prototype equipment: interaction with scientists; experimental drawings converted into prototype layout before being put out to commercial contract for production; FR group staff installing finished equipment; conversion of diagram into production model. [30:15] Remarks on: contact with other groups, helping scientists to build their apparatus, examples of working with transistors; working with special services group, to help in the production of glass filters by disposition; problems with equipment; [34:55] changes in electronic components over the years, limitations of early transistors compared to valves; FR spending much time doing technical reading for work; learning from colleagues; few women in engineering work all Culham, but little sexism; [41:05] pleasant working atmosphere at Culham; lack of political discussion, most conversation domestic and technical; internal politics at Harwell; secretary only woman in FR group; routine nature of work at Culham. [43:32] Remarks on phase doing commercial work: installing data processing equipment at Liverpool University. [45:20] Remarks on: limited contact with organisations outside Culham; FR feelings about commercial work in 1980s; limited contact with other establishments, other than Harwell; contact with manufacturers and repair contractors; FR group limited involvement with JET reactor; staff for JET recruited from FR group; JET pay structures favouring staff from overseas; [49:50] comparisons between Aldermaston, Harwell and Culham, changes in FR role to become more supervisory; [51:10] nature of work in a technical environment, FR enjoyments and frustrations in work; FR managerial style. [55:55] Remarks on FR career: happier in early career; career overview at Culham; mixed feelings approaching retirement; enjoying countryside in retirement with wife, buying a caravan in Devon; retirement in 1986 aged 64, retirement presents.
Interview with technician, Frank Raynor