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.