Marion Hearfield - an engineer's wife


I was born in Yorkshire in 1945 and have spent my adult life living with this engineer who designed electronic widgets. He did it very successfully and still has a working electronics lab in the best room in our house, although I admit I took over the top floor of the house and set up my own sewing room there, when our children finally moved out. And John's most recent electronic project was showing our little granddaughters the magnetic effects of an electric field. They enjoyed that.


The first decades of being an engineer's wife were spent at home once our children arrived, but the engineer was busy with his career so I did quite a lot of the house maintenance and all of the gardening. When I took a very stiff shoulder to my GP in the 1980s, he sensibly suggested that I buy a light-weight power drill, and I still have my own tool-kit in the kitchen, stored in a tall corner cupboard that I designed and built myself, out of real wood. It was about this time that I wrote a Lament of the Engineer's Wife for the Maplin magazine which drew furtive looks and whispers in our local Maplin shop.

In my forties I started a new career. John was working at home much of the time (in his lab), the children were doing GCSE and A levels, so I did a B.Ed and John learned to cook. After a couple of years working in training I found my niche as a technical author for a local software company and wrote on-line help and user guides and training manuals. The job was initially to cover somebody's maternity leave, but I stayed for eleven years.

By the time I decided to stop work, John had discovered the delights of not having to work for a living and was well established with his research into interesting stuff . To keep me occupied he suggested I take a look at Swaledale, where he had discovered my great-great-grandparents. That led to a much wider analysis of 19thC Swaledale that kept me happily occupied for about four years, and I am still involved with the Upper Dales Family History Group. But Swaledale is 250 miles away and I needed something closer to home. That's when I read our house title deeds. These sent me off on a completely new research thread into The Field Estate in Stroud that is still being woven into this website, and into a research archive for our local museum.

Recently I expanded my knitting experiments from family portraits to flowers.

Since John died in 2016, my continuing research into Stroud's social and industrial history now appears in my books and in the exhibitions of Stroud Local History Society