Friday, 1 March 2013

Women's work:Sepia Saturday 166



This is a photo from my mother's collection and is of her and her colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was sometime in the late 1950s and the Ministry was based in prefabricated buildings in Stanmore, Middlesex. My mother was a shorthand typist.
Work Colleagues Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 1956-7

Lovely's mum
This is her on the front row, bottom right. My mother worked there until I was born. I think she worked in the typing pool, but then from time to time she worked specifically for some of the Chief Executives. She told us one story, almost as a warning of the apparent dangers for women in the workplace. Apparently one of the CEOs had a bit of a reputation and when his regular secretary was away the temps would last a day or so and then run out of the office in tears. One day mum was assigned to his office. All was going well but after a couple of days he asked her to go over to the low table across the room and look up a phone number for him. As she lent over he jumped on her back and asked her to carry him across the room! She was shocked but kept her cool, stood up quickly, dislodging him and turned to face him. From that moment on she never turned her back on him. She told us he was extremely high up in the Civil Service but she would never reveal his name, even years later. How times change! Women then were expected to just put up with this type of behaviour and manage it as best they could. I have to say her tips stood me in good stead in my working life, as I certainly came across my share of slimeballs!

My mother worked in various secretarial posts. For a long time she worked for an accountant who did the accounts for the cake factory next door. She got me a summer job in the factory one year and my job was making cardboard boxes! I got very fast at it and was then told I was too fast and if I didn't slow down they would make the rest of the production line work faster. I slowed myself down by readiing the paper at the same time as making the boxes.

Mum's last job was at the Commonwealth Development Corporation.  While she was there she met Prince Charles!

Lovely's mum meets Prince Charles

11 comments:

Wendy said...

Wow - your mother really experienced the extremes from a low-life to a prince.

Karen S. said...

Wow- how very cool is that, that your mum got to meet Prince Charles and in his younger days! The group of employees from her work is great, pretty much all of them seem to be really enjoying themselves!

Brett Payne said...

The group photo reminds me very much of photos taken of my father when he was studying horticulture at university in the late 1940s. The groups ones have very much the same fell about them - I don't know if it's the clothing, the hair styles, or just the smiles on their faces.

Boobook said...

Your own work experience reminded me of the 'I Love Lucy' episode where she works in the chocolate factory and can't work fast enough to keep up with the machine - such a funny episode.

Bob Scotney said...

I have memories of a shop steward who switched of automatic welding machine to protect his members' jobs because it was completing welds too quickly.

Little Nell said...

Your caption 'Lovely's Mum' could just as easily read 'Lovely Mum' as she sounds just that, and eminently sensible too. I have something in common with her, although I actually danced on the same disco floor with Prnce Charles, I didn't actually meet him. It was probably about the same time too. I wrote about ithere,.

Alan Burnett said...

There is something so 1950s about that photograph - it immediately made me think of those C P Snow stories about the civil service in the 1950s.

Kathy Morales said...

Your mom had a lovely smile. She jumped out of that group picture immediately.

Postcardy said...

It now is hard to understand how an important executive could get away with treating coworkers the way you mother was treated.

Liz Needle said...

I remember those 50s clothes well. Twinsets and pearls, skirts and cardigans. Good tweed suits in winter. And always stockings and hats and gloves in the street. Thanks for the memory.

tony said...

Yes,Your Mum looks lovely.
Our Bonny Prince Looks So Young in the photo!
Yes, times have changed, but (witness recent news) Slimeballs still stalk the planet!