Jenny Hooley

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21 Mar 2012
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Interview notes

Notes from the video interview by Phil Windeatt 04/06/13



Interviewer: Roy Lockett. 27.03.12.

Lab worker at Rank Denham.


Born in Upton Leigh Hospital, Slough. Lived in Iver and then moved to Denham, Bucks. One of 8 children. Father a chef, two jobs. Mother had been a dental nurse during the 2WW. Had a part-time job working for Woolworths. Parents voted Liberal. Father from Liverpool, and his parents were Irish. “They let us go our own way”. Father a strict Catholic.


Went to St Joseph’s School, Slough, a catholic school. Unhappy there, was caned! In the third year was removed by parents. Went instead to a mixed sec mod. Good at arts and crafts, not much of a scholar. Left school at 15, no qualifications, shop and factory jobs.


First job Window Dresser. Then went to Woolworths £3 7s 6d a week. Age 17/18 thought about a career. Sister already working in the Rank offices. More attracted to working on the factory side. “Worth a try”. So started in the 16mm Pos Room – re-making joins and spotting split perfs. Boring. “35mm work more interesting” reprints so went there. “Chargeables… trained on the job”. It was not mind-boggling “not rocket science”.


11.27: JH explains Chargeables.


Pos Room 4 years. Applied for neg cutting but not successful. Went to Model C Cueing - preparing negs for printing – metal tabs inserted. JH “more ambitious than most of the other women”. JH “questioned why women couldn’t do certain jobs”. Always wanted to be a grader which was all male. Highly paid work, JH unsuccessfully applied 17 times!


17.35: Was bullied by a manager said I was a bad influence, don’t know why, JH handed in her notice.


Became assistant manageress of a boutique in 1970s Uxbridge. “Not bad pay” but less than Rank.


Don Judd, Rank plant manager, offered JH her job back. JH reluctant to return but DJ said he would sort out the bullying. JH went back with more money and responsibility. Became a chargehand, responsible for training. Department of 10/12. Made up to supervisor “men didn’t take it very well”.


24.50: Scheduled work for the printers. Gained their respect. Training courses mixed. Went on a year long training course with college access. JH’s project was the filing of grading cards onto microfiche. Rank ignored JH’s project.


Became a manager. Applied for assistant to contact person. “…started to get active in the union”. Joined the plant union committee. Roger Bannister shop steward, Phil Hooley and Alan John. JH was union equality officer for 15 years. “pioneering”. Started travelling to Actt head office in Soho Sq and special conferences, workshops etc.


33.00: Worked on maternity and paternity leave at Rank. Paternity leave of 7 days won “took a long time”. After Sandra Horne, the union’s full-time equality officer, JH became disillusioned. Paternity rights for lesbians was too far for JH. Didn’t think her members could understand. Remained in the union but not in the women’s members campaigns anymore.


37.00: Went to Russia with the Actt, Alan Sapper – Moscow, Leningrad and Yalta. Visited a lab in Moscow where all the colour graders were women whereas in the UK all men. The Russian’s response was that women’s colour sense is far superior. Given facts and figures. Presented the case for women graders to Rank but did nothing. “don’t listen”.


Aged 32 interviewed in Ann Rossmuir’s “A Woman’s Guide to Working in Film & TV”. JH said”very hard for women”. Women employed in lower grades, less well-paid. “Keep trying”.


43.00: JH made redundant from Model C. Explains Model C procedure. The technology had changed drastically – rolling redundancies – “everything computerised”. Everything going to tape. Not doing 16mm by the time JH had left Rank. The 16mm department disappeared.


44.40: 1000 employees at Rank when JH started, 260 when she left.


Worked for Marks & Spencer after redundancy from Rank. Started as a “till tart” working on the tills. Promoted to being in charge of the horticulture, flowers, displays, ordering etc. “Not well paid”. Worked there for just over a year.


50.20: JH had an interview with Reg Beck at Vidfilm, small company. Someone needed in despatch. Shift work – 7 day fortnight. Changed to 5 day a week and became a management post. All post-production, masters, bulk vhs production, languages, sub-titling and dubbing (“laidbacks”). Worked there for 12 years until retirement. Vidfilm taken over by Technicolor.


56.52: “Great time, wonderful life” JH “Bit disappointed in what I achieved”. “Came through with a smile on my face… a struggle for women”. Still go to the cinema very week. ENDS.