OBITUARY:Monica Maurice

Share
Related Topics
I recently spoke on the telephone to Monica Maurice in her office at the Wolf Safety Lamp Company, the Sheffield-based specialists in safety lighting engineering, with a world-wide reputation second to none. On that occasion her son John Jackson (my twin brother), now managing director, and her grandson, a graduate in design engineering, were poring over a technical problem with her. Her father, William Maurice, founder of the company, who purchased the business rights from Friemann and Wolf of Saxony in 1910, would have been proud to have known that three further generations were thriving as a result of his vision and insight.

Yet it was not easy for Monica Maurice, who on her own, after her father's death in 1951 and with the aftermath of the Second World War, had to restructure and rebuild lost markets and demands. The company has now changed almost beyond recognition. No more flame lamps or acid batteries are now made by the company. The intense noise of the fly presses, the scream of turbine wheels and the clank of blanking machines from the shop floor have given way to the production of the "Wolf light", a light portable, rechargeable hand lamp with the power of a motor-car headlamp, that could be dropped from a 10-storey building and would not break.

Monica Maurice was brought up in the industrial north Midlands, the eldest of three daughters all of whom were educated at Bedales. She had a talent for languages and design and studied at the Sorbonne, in Paris, and at Hamburg University in the late Twenties. Even as a young girl there was a steely determination to be successful.

Her long and distinguished career started in February 1930, first as secretary to her father at the company, then as a trainee with the old parent company in Zwickau. This was the first of many visits to Germany throughout the Thirties. On one occasion she wandered into a restricted zone and saw what she thought was a guidance system. This she reported to the British authorities on her return, but they were not interested. At the outbreak of war though, she was summoned to London for a three- day debriefing. All this experience, her knowledge of technical German and her familiarity with many of the industrial sites proved invaluable.

In 1947, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, she participated in a British intelligence overseas survey mission to Germany to determine the extent and subsequent recovery in certain specialised industries. During this visit her party were reporting their arrival at a town near Cologne when an arrogant young British captain dismissed their request for accommodation and supplies. Monica Maurice came forward and quietly suggested that she might be forced to pull rank and suddenly rooms were available in the local hotel, as well as fuel and rations for the onward journey. It was only recently that the fascinating and revealing diaries made on her visit to Germany were discovered and it is the family's hope to publish this, together with other of her papers.

She married a Canadian doctor, Arthur Jackson, in 1938, and by the mid- Fifties was ferrying three children to and from Bedales, where she was a governor for eight years. These journeys were made in a wonderful Mark VI Bentley and were a joy to her children often clutching large baskets of cherries procured from the Thames Valley roadside.

Monica Maurice's passion for cars and planes was insatiable. She learnt to drive the family Singer Swallow at Park Grange, the family home overlooking Sheffield. By the Thirties she had graduated to a Donnington track model chain-gang Frazer Nash with which she would race her friend Joy Davison. Both were members of the York Aviation Flying Club at Sherburn in Elmet, North Yorkshire, some 40 miles away. The plan was that they would breakfast at Park Grange, then set off each in their own cars. The Frazer Nash was small, nimble and light with tremendous acceleration, so that Maurice would have a good lead by the time she joined the Great North Road. But on the fast sections of the last 10 miles Davison's huge powerful car would haul in the Frazer Nash so that they would arrive at the clubhouse together.

By the late Thirties Monica Maurice drove a Brough Superior Drophead Tourer and raced one of the works' Brough supercharged hill-climbing cars. She moved on to a pre-war BMW 327, and after the Bentley came a wonderful primrose yellow DB2 Mk III Aston Martin with a works engine which one could hear coming from miles away.

Her latter years were spent at peace in the tranquil village of Ashford in the Water in the Peak District of Derbyshire, where she enjoyed regular visits from family, friends and most of all her grandchildren, whom she adored.

William Jackson

Helen Monica Maurice, lamp manufacturer: born 30 June 1908; managing director, Wolf Safety Lamp Company 1951-79, chairman 1951-88; OBE 1975; married 1938 Arthur Jackson (two sons, one daughter); died 20 September 1995.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone