Elizabeth Beaton’s work as a shorthand typist in Exeter

She started work at the age of 20 in 1950 as a shorthand typist. Her Mother had no real ambition for her as “a girl was useless to teach”. One brother became an accountant and the other a stockbroker. She came from Devon. She married a Royal Marine she met at Lympstone in Devon. Her husband saw no future in the marines so he completed an honours degree with the Open University in Business Studies. He trained to be a Personal manager in Bristol. He worked with unions at Rolls Royce re: working practices. Both of them went on to study with the Open University. Elizabeth completed an honours degree in English Language and Literature.The Open University changed their working lives as they didn’t have the opportunity during their secondary education.

One day her husband saw an advert in the Times by Gordonstoun School. They had decided to change their 6th form teaching and needed a business studies teacher. His Royal Marine background, Industrial experience and OU degree suited the school so Elizabeth and her husband moved up to Moray. They were given a staff house in Duffus.

Elizabeth learnt Italian at the local Technical College and she went on to work for the local tourist board during school hours. She also did some translating. There were quite a number of Italian families in the area including the Sidoli family in Duffus village and the Mieles in Hopeman. She spent several summers with the Tourist Board translating Italian, French and some German (having learnt this at an evening class). Elizabeth also worked for the Elgin firm, Gordon and McPhail. They had an Italian market and wanted to expand into Europe. Elizabeth helped to translate Italian contracts and some French technical documents. She had learnt Italian at Elgin Technical College (now Moray College).

Elizabeth was interviewed at Duffus Fair

Additional Information

History of the Open University
Link to more information about the history of the Open University

“The OU opened to its first students – 25,000 of them –  in January 1971 with a choice of four multi-disciplinary foundation courses in the arts, social sciences, science or maths.”


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