Val Edmunds was a Performance Engineer at Westland and remembers what the Yeovil factory was like when she started working there

It was very male-dominated. There’s a lot more women now in all sorts of different fields, which is nice because you did feel a little bit isolated. All sorts of things were different. We all sat in rows and there was a buzzer when the end of working time came and everybody used to put on their coats and run for their cars so they wouldn’t get caught in the traffic but now we have flexitime and it’s all a lot more civilised, and the technical block – people smoked. Sometimes you’d go into an office and you’d barely be able to see the person you’d come to see. We would just have sheets of paper and drawing graphs by hand and then we had computers so then we had punch cards and that was amazing putting the punch cards through and making this huge noise as the programme ran through. Then we had a computer room and we’d all go down to the computer room and now we all have a terminal on our desks. And, you’d write all your reports by hand and they’d go off to the secretaries to be typed but now we all have to write our own on the computer. So things have changed a lot. We had a library where they could find you absolutely anything. It was fantastic and now it’s all electronic. You have to somehow go on to the computer and find it, anything you need.

Tell me something about those punch cards? What was the purpose of that?

Well, that was the way that the programmes were written. One line on each card and then you’d have a card reader that would read the programme. It was little holes and in order to write the programme you’d have to type it on a machine and it would punch the holes out.

Was it a friendly place in those days? I mean you said there was some resistance to you as a woman?

A little bit but everybody was very friendly and I’ve been very fortunate to work in a very close knit team every time and there hasn’t been a day, really, when you don’t get a really good laugh, at least once a day, so you can’t really ask for more.

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