Julia Slingo: the Met Office of the early 1970s

Julia Slingo describes the Met Office of the early 1970s, including its intimidating Directors' corridor.

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Well the Met Office was in Bracknell, as you know at that time, and it was in a building from I suppose the early 1960s so it was a classic 1960s five or six storey building of lots of long corridors with offices off. And the group I was in was situated on the third floor so we were all along one corridor on the third floor. The building was an L shape, or probably more accurately a U shape. And certainly around the corner on the third floor was the directors' wing which we treated [laughs] with great trepidation, if you were ever called into that corridor you went there with a lot of anxiety and fear and so forth [laughs].

Why is that?

Well they were quite intimidating places, they were – all the directors had their own obviously offices with a PA office and you went in through the PA and then finally into the director’s room so they were – they weren’t very friendly places and in contrast to where I work now complete – very unfriendly. Okay.

Is there anything about the people themselves that cause this trepidation or is it just the sort of, the geography of the offices?

I think people then were – organisations were much more hierarchical and one did feel very much that the senior management, the directors, were pretty unapproachable. They were all men of course, you know, in smart suits and a fairly intimidating PA sitting in the outer office and they kept themselves very much to themselves so they didn’t circulate amongst the staff much. And you’d – and of course very civil service and Ministry of Defence type environment, so very formal, very structured, and I imagine very much, you know, as the civil service was in those days. And perhaps still is in some places [laughs].

Yes, how did people refer to each other?

Certainly not with Christian names and you wouldn’t have even remotely considered talking to the directors by Christian name, whereas these days that’s a natural thing to do.

  • Interviewee Julia Slingo
  • Duration 00:02:32
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 1/19/2012
  • Shelfmark C1379/61

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