Cymraeg
List all records by:

A collection of interviews and photographs recorded by Women's Archive of Wales in 2013-14

Browse the interviews


Sorted by factory name

British industrial Solvents, Port Talbot

VSE056 Betty Gwendoline Metcalfe, British industrial Solvents, Port Talbot

While a pupil at Bridgend Grammar School Betty passed 13 O Levels and stayed to study for A Levels, but decided to leave (1950) and went for an interview in her school uniform to the Carbide Factory, which produced acetylene Gas. She worked in the Laboratory, analysing local limestone etc. She describes the dust, the dangers working with nitric acid, tough girls, technical courses at college, inequality of pay, excellent bonuses; problems with acne; accidents and the nurse; and the subsidised canteen. She left when she was expecting her daughter in 1960. She returned to help close the factory in 1965/6. It had been like a family there.

British Nylon Spinners, Pontypool

VSE050 Audrey Gray, Johnson & Johnson, Pengam;British Nylon Spinners, Pontypool

Audrey left the grammar school (she describes her experiences in detail) at 17 (1953/4) and though destined for university her brothers’ weddings left her mother with no income and she went to work in the laboratory in BNS, testing yarns for viscosity etc. Keeping records and cleaning everything in the evening. Notes working with asbestos baths and fume cupboards when describing processes. Tested raw materials too e.g. water and coal. Girls didn’t work on the night shift. She understood the production process. She notes that girls’ schools didn’t have chemistry labs. Number of toxic and dangerous chemicals. Wore terylene lab coats, two strength gloves – gauntlets of rubber, eye-shields compulsory for some jobs, She had one accident - a flask bubbled up and shot solution into her face – first aiders, nurses and hospital. One walk out because hot and air conditioning not working. Social life with lab people mainly. Different clubs – tennis, table tennis, canoeing. Beautiful factory grounds. Laundry basket for their lab coats, dusters etc. Paid monthly. They were given shares and pensions. Seven day shift system. She belonged to the ASTMS union- Assoc. of Technical and Management ? With automation came redundancies. She describes the excellent social club and events. Xmas dances – responsibility of one shift, like a film set. She stayed there for 12-3 years and then to Johnson’s in the quality control lab for a few years. It produced j cloths.
Audrey Gray in the British Nylon Spinners  laboratory receiving her leaving present, late 1960sAudrey Gray working in the laboratory at Johnson and Johnson, Pengam

VSE009 Sheila Hughes, British Nylon Spinners, Pontypool

Sheila left grammar school at 16 (1953) and started in British Nylon Spinners (Courtaulds) – 4000-5000 working there. New factory (1947-) and developing. She began in physical test lab. Very noisy – lip reading. Describes processes. In PTL she went round factory with ‘Albert’ machine to check humidity and temperature. Also knitting panels to test dyes. Testing how much twist, and breaking strength of nylon. Looking for slubs. So a control centre to check machines working properly. The factory produced the raw material not finished products in nylon.. Didn’t like women working night shift. Called the men in the lab ‘the girls’! Constant flow of buses. Trained by osmosis. Gradually worked herself up to section head. Worked in textile development dept. – testing garments to destruction – bri-nylon. Lab assistants sent to Doncaster factory – helicopter crashed. Exhibition to promote factory. Perks – two pairs of stockings a year. Danger – one girl caught her hair in a machine. Allowed 10 minutes in toilets to smarten yourself up. Grades of canteens. She was staff. One long social life: clubhouse with huge ballroom, rifle range, judo, concerts with big bands and films, parties. The Queen visited. Never bored – singing. She left when pregnant – 1967. ICI had taken over – not the same. Later became market researcher – 23 years. She was in a training film made in 1960s. Company newsletter – The Signpost.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file

VSE084 Julie Moore, British Nylon Spinners, Pontypool

Julie Moore (married name Julie Watkins) Machine Office Clerk in the Production Control Department at British Nylon Spinners factory, Pontypool c. 1955-61. She left the factory to go out to Tripoli with her husband who was in the Military Police.
Julie Moore with two friends British Nylon Spinners factory grounds 
Staff of Production Control at BNS Julie Moore far right standing
Julie Moore with 2 friends in Brtish Nylon Spinners  factory grounds; buses in background, that were free to staff
Staff of Production Control Dept. taken at leaving presentation (see Signpost article, VSE084.6) 1961 
Article 1 from Signpost, the British Nylon Spinners weekly newspaper,  Thursday 8 June 1961, Four Girls with a lilt in their Voices about the singing group the Librettis.
Article 2, number of photos of BNS staff.  Photo 1 is of Mrs Julie Watkins (Julie Moore) (Machine Office Clerk) receiving a necklace for six years service at BNS. She was going out to Tripoli with her husband who was in the Military Police.

BSA Tools, Cardiff

VSE061 Gwynedd Lingard, BSA Tools, Cardiff

Gwynedd left grammar school at 16 (uncertain) (1950) to further her dreams of being a gymnast. She was selected for the Olympic team in 1952 – talks of the response of her area- flags and a street collection. She worked for Boots’ Chemist but they wouldn’t allow her time off so she went to work in the office in BSA Tools, which made scientific tools, microscopes etc. They gave her time off with pay. Her father built her a balancing beam in their lounge! Notes that when she went training in 1952 she had to take her own food coupons. Also the clothes rations and the cost of the uniform. Men on factory floor – wolf whistled when she went down there. She was the material control clerk, checking the stores and keeping the books. Men never offensive but they did ‘torment ‘ her. Describes a fatal accident in the furnace there. Dismal building – noise and smell. She left at 19 (1954) – she was pregnant. Accident on the way to work and taken to hospital by the boss. When a man pestered her (out of work) her boss sorted it out. Her father was a good swimmer and her mother a great runner and played baseball for Gripoly Mill though she didn’t work there. Later she went back to work, for the Gas Board (1972 until 1992). She talks about the Olympics in Helsinki and becoming an international coach.

Burlington, Caerphilly

VSE034 Shirley Smith, Burlington, Caerphilly;Burry Son & Company Ltd, Treforest

Shirley studied in a commercial college before leaving at 17. She worked in a shop before joining Burry’s in 1957 (until 1982) – a textile factory – she was a shorthand typist in the office. They had an ancient machine to calculate the men’s wages. She discusses her wages, and the one woman supervisor’s wages – equal to the men’s. It was very noisy on the factory floor and the workers were on their feet all day. Poor conditions in the office; very hot in the factory all year. She names the factories open on the Treforest Esate at this time. Her boss died suddenly and the factory was taken over by Burlington Gloves. She was made redundant in 1989.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file

Burlington Gloves, Treforest

VSE047 Hilary Adams, Burlington Gloves, Treforest;KLG (Kenelm Lee Guiness) Factory, Treforest

Hiilary left school at 15 and started in Burlington’s Gloves in 1953. She worked in the fabric section; they made leather and industrial ones too. Buses carried the workers to all the estate factories. They worked piece work; listened to Housewives’ Choice and some were home-workers. She got fed up there after c. 9 years and went to KLG to work making sparking plugs. This factory was part of Smith’s Industries, a good family firm – which paid sick pay and after 10 years gave extra holidays. When Ford’s took over the factory their wages doubled - they received equal pay. She worked 10 years for KLG and altogether 44 years in factories. She notes the social activities.

Burry Son & Company Ltd, Treforest

VSE034 Shirley Smith, Burlington, Caerphilly;Burry Son & Company Ltd, Treforest

Shirley studied in a commercial college before leaving at 17. She worked in a shop before joining Burry’s in 1957 (until 1982) – a textile factory – she was a shorthand typist in the office. They had an ancient machine to calculate the men’s wages. She discusses her wages, and the one woman supervisor’s wages – equal to the men’s. It was very noisy on the factory floor and the workers were on their feet all day. Poor conditions in the office; very hot in the factory all year. She names the factories open on the Treforest Esate at this time. Her boss died suddenly and the factory was taken over by Burlington Gloves. She was made redundant in 1989.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file

Calsonic Kansei, Felin-foel, Llanelli

VSW069 Carol Price, Calsonic Kansei, Felin-foel, Llanelli;Llanelli Radiators, Felin-foel, Llanelli;Morris Motors, Felin-foel, Llanelli

Carol was 16 years old when she began working at Morris Motors, Felin-foel, Llanelli in 1966. She earned 6 a week and thought she was a millionaire! She worked there for 37 years until she was 53 years old (2003). She worked initially on the shop floor assembling copper brass car radiators for Minis, Maxis and Marinas. When she left in 2003 she was working testing Audi cars oil coolers, for Calsonic Kansei. Carol worked successively in the same factory for Morris Motors; Llanelli Radiators (1987) and Calsonic Kansei (1989-)
Factory floor at Morris Motors, showing the assembling of copper brass radiators; c. 1970. Carol Price is in the second row, wearing spectacles. 
Workers on the factory floor at Morris Motors, assembling radiators.Workers on the factory floor at Morris Motors, assembling radiators.A leaving do for a factory worker at Morris Motors c. 1980s. In front of the group we see a jig - the copper brass was placed within the jig to assemble the radiator.Workers working under the new Calsonic Kansei system of production in 1995; see the Union Jack hats to remember the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day.Carol Price testing the Audi oil cooler in a different part of the Calsonic Kansei factory in 2003. If the tester turned blue it denoted that the cooler had passed the test.

Capacitor factory and other factories, Wrexham

VN036 Anita Roberts, Capacitor factory and other factories, Wrexham

Anita went into a factory at 15 but she didn't like it and only stayed a week. Her mother Nesta worked at the same factory but Anita said it was just too fast and she couldn't keep up. After a job in an exotic pet shop, which she really liked, she returned to a different factory which she found much better, one that made capacitors, and she got really good at her job. She left after a few years and worked in other factories, making curtains and ceramics, before eventually going into care work, which she said was much harder than any factory job. Anita thinks her health suffered after working in the ceramics factory, where she used to clean, because of the thick dust that they breathed in and there was no proper protective masks.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file

Administration