Maintaining the boiler (Joan Pearson)

Joan Pearson interviewed by Richard Wallace

Projectionist Joan Pearson describes some of the work she was expected to do as a woman in projection. This included cleaning the canopy on the cinema roof and maintaining the boiler.

Clip

Show Transcript
I must add there were no favours. You came into the projection room, you did exactly the same work as a man. Exactly the same. The one day the chief came down and he said, "Right, we're on the roof today". "What roof?" "The canopy, we're cleaning all the fittings". Got the double extension ladder climbing up onto this canopy. This was Bristol Cinema. But you weren’t, honest to god you weren’t exempt from anything. Cleaning filters, and the fibreglass oh, we were like this all day, you know. Erm, banging them and then vacuuming them and blowing them out and everything. And oh, god the boilers. If there was an air bubble in the oil, you could forget it. You’ve got to get that air bubble out. And it was the old diesel to start with. I mean you were open to dermatitis with that stuff, you know, 'cause it was just like treacle. And you take it all apart and keep bleeding it until you think you’ve got the bubble out, reassemble it again with all the firing unit. Anyway, one time at the Orient we had a delivery of oil in the winter. Snowing like made but it wasn’t settling. And the manager said, "Whatever he's got on take it, because we don't know when we’re gonna get another lot, you know". Well I couldn’t see the gauge, couldn’t see it at all. So I said to him, "If I shout you stop pumping". He said, "Yes, okay". Well he was about 500 yards away and he was pumping away and my eyes, you know, glued to this thing. And I shouted "Stop! Stop!" Well, of course he couldn’t hear it because of the engine, and whoosh just like a gusher came straight over the top, I thought, "Oh no". So anyway he saw me waving me hand and he stopped it, but by then I mean we were up to our ankles in it. You know, and the smell in the theatre, of diesel oil. Thought, "What the hell can I do?" So right, the local butcher was two doors away from the cinema. And I said, "I’m in a bit of a dilemma here," I said, "can you help me out?" I said, "We’ve just had a delivery of oil and it's come over the top and it's all over the floor". He said, "Well how can I help you?" I said, "Have you got any sawdust?" And he said, "Have you got a box?" And I said, "Yes, a great big Butterkist box". He filled it up he did. Down I went and shovelling it all over the floor but of course as fast as I was putting it down it was just soaking it up. Then I’d got to get it out. So I went back again for another box. And he said, "I can't give you anymore after this, you know?" And I said, "Well I'll try. I’ll try it anyway". So I got out as much as I could but people were complaining about their eyes smarting, you see with the heat as well. I just didn’t know what to do. Hadn’t got a clue. And I thought well I can't do anything else. Nobody else was interested, management didn’t want to know, you know, "Oh it's your problem, you sort it out", like. Anyway, we eventually ... it did peter out, the smell but it took a while.

Title

Maintaining the boiler (Joan Pearson)

Description

Projectionist Joan Pearson describes some of the work she was expected to do as a woman in projection. This included cleaning the canopy on the cinema roof and maintaining the boiler.

Source

Interview with Joan and Bill Pearson

Publisher

University of Warwick

Date

22/03/2017

Format

.mp3

Language

English

Type

Sound recording

Coverage

1948-1974

Interviewer

Richard Wallace
Rebecca Harrison

Interviewee

Joan Pearson
Bill Pearson

Date of Interview

21/07/2016

Location

Birmingham

Transcription

I must add there were no favours. You came into the projection room, you did exactly the same work as a man. Exactly the same. The one day the chief came down and he said, "Right, we're on the roof today". "What roof?" "The canopy, we're cleaning all the fittings". Got the double extension ladder climbing up onto this canopy. This was Bristol Cinema. But you weren’t, honest to god you weren’t exempt from anything. Cleaning filters, and the fibreglass oh, we were like this all day, you know. Erm, banging them and then vacuuming them and blowing them out and everything. And oh, god the boilers. If there was an air bubble in the oil, you could forget it. You’ve got to get that air bubble out. And it was the old diesel to start with. I mean you were open to dermatitis with that stuff, you know, 'cause it was just like treacle. And you take it all apart and keep bleeding it until you think you’ve got the bubble out, reassemble it again with all the firing unit. Anyway, one time at the Orient we had a delivery of oil in the winter. Snowing like made but it wasn’t settling. And the manager said, "Whatever he's got on take it, because we don't know when we’re gonna get another lot, you know". Well I couldn’t see the gauge, couldn’t see it at all. So I said to him, "If I shout you stop pumping". He said, "Yes, okay". Well he was about 500 yards away and he was pumping away and my eyes, you know, glued to this thing. And I shouted "Stop! Stop!" Well, of course he couldn’t hear it because of the engine, and whoosh just like a gusher came straight over the top, I thought, "Oh no". So anyway he saw me waving me hand and he stopped it, but by then I mean we were up to our ankles in it. You know, and the smell in the theatre, of diesel oil. Thought, "What the hell can I do?" So right, the local butcher was two doors away from the cinema. And I said, "I’m in a bit of a dilemma here," I said, "can you help me out?" I said, "We’ve just had a delivery of oil and it's come over the top and it's all over the floor". He said, "Well how can I help you?" I said, "Have you got any sawdust?" And he said, "Have you got a box?" And I said, "Yes, a great big Butterkist box". He filled it up he did. Down I went and shovelling it all over the floor but of course as fast as I was putting it down it was just soaking it up. Then I’d got to get it out. So I went back again for another box. And he said, "I can't give you anymore after this, you know?" And I said, "Well I'll try. I’ll try it anyway". So I got out as much as I could but people were complaining about their eyes smarting, you see with the heat as well. I just didn’t know what to do. Hadn’t got a clue. And I thought well I can't do anything else. Nobody else was interested, management didn’t want to know, you know, "Oh it's your problem, you sort it out", like. Anyway, we eventually ... it did peter out, the smell but it took a while.

Original Format

Group interview

Duration

00:03:22

Bit Rate/Frequency

320kbps

Citation

The Projection Project, “Maintaining the boiler (Joan Pearson),” Projection Project, accessed December 12, 2018, https://projectionproject.warwick.ac.uk/items/show/470.

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