Voices in the Coalshed: The Lady of the Lamp
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Voices in the Coalshed: The Lady of the Lamp

What connects Amy Johnson; the Association of mining Electrical Engineers; the Wolf Flame Safety Lamp and a bright red wedding dress in the V&A?

That’s simple, that would be (Helen) Monica Maurice OBE.

Born in June 1908, Monica had a passion for languages and design. To pursue this she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Fascinated by many aspects of modern life, this remarkable person raced her Frazer-Nash car at Donnington Park. She qualified as a pilot in 1935 and went on to nominate her friend, Amy Johnson, to be president of the Women’s engineering society.

After studying in Hamburg, she began working with her father who sent her to train at the Friemann and Wolf factory in Germany as he had bought the UK rights to produce their lamps.

Monica’s thirty-year career at Wolf Lamps culminated in her becoming their managing director.

As if that were not enough, she became a Companion of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, became the first female member of the Association of Mining Electrical Engineers and worked towards establishing international standards for lighting in mines.  She also became a member of the British Standards Committee for mine lamps and safety wear.

Whilst doing all of this, Monica married and had three children and it is her bright red wedding dress that can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum illustrating her life-long love for fashion.

Written by Volunteer Nicola

Image header: Monica Maurice from the 1930s in the Wolf factory with a series of electric alkaline lamps. (NCMME Collection)