Oral history of British science
Laughton, Anthony (Part 1 of 12). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee's home, Surrey
Laughton, Anthony, 1927- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 1: Anthony Seymour Laughton [AL] born 29 April, 1927, Golders Green [GG], Northwest London. Story of father’s career in furniture industry. Mentions move of father’s family to GG. Further comments on father’s career. [2:01] Story of father’s World War One [WW1] service. Mentions own and father’s memoirs; father’s experience of Taormina, Sicily, WW1. [3:57] Comments on maternal grandfather’s career in shipping, Southampton. Story of mother and maternal aunt’s nursing of wounded soldiers, Southampton Common, WW1. Mentions lack of knowledge of how parents met; parents marriage, 1923; death of first son; birth of AL’s brother Dennis, 1924; own birth. [6:28] Comments on mother’s accounts of wartime experiences. [7:15] Mentions maternal grandparents’ move from Southampton to ‘Milton Lodge’ [ML], Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire; maternal grandfather’s [MG] playing of bowls, riding of tricycle. Story of MG’s response to bomb damage to ML. Mentions MG’s interest in gardening, death; relations between aunt and grandmother. Comments on lack of memories of paternal grandparents. [9:46] Comments on time spent with maternal grandparents, ML. [10:42] Comments on situation of first childhood home, GG. Mentions visits to Golders Hill Park [GHP], zoo, Hampstead Heath [HH], sailing boats on Whitestone Pond [WP], Hampstead. Mentions schools. [12:21] Description of first home. Mentions nanny and live-in maid; parents bridge parties; father’s membership of cricket club Hampstead. [14:52] Story of visits with brother and father to Covent Garden, Smithfield and Billingsgate markets. Mentions father’s membership of ‘Society of Individualists’ and Masonic movement. [16:42] Comments on extent of father’s foreign travel; family interest in music/singing. [21:19] Description of childhood outdoor play. [23:42] Story of development of interest in boating. Story of rowing, sailing and semaphoring with brother on successive holidays, Coverack, Cornwall [CC], 1930s. [26:02] Mentions books read as child. Story of watching uncle’s early television set, 1938. [27:46] Comments on friends; visits to small zoo, GHP. [29:18] Mentions mother’s occupation as masseuse. [29:51] Description of boarding preparatory school, Abinger Hill [AH], joined 1936. Story of fire, AH; announcement of declaration of war 1939; move to stay with friends in Marlborough; decision not to evacuate to Canada; abrupt move from AH to Marlborough boarding school [MS], 1940. [37:31] Comments on effect on future career of progress through ‘forms’, MS; focus on scientific subjects, sixth form. [41:09] Comments on effect of WW2 on MS. Story of boys stealing ammunition; occupation of school by military convoy. Mentions lack of bombing. [44:17] Comments on teaching of science, AH. Story of Lord Melchett paying for science laboratory, AH [45:39] Description of experiments performed using sets bought by father, late 1930s. Description of the AH science laboratory. [47:52] Comments on teaching of geography, AH. [48:36] Description of playing with Meccano sets, including own appraisal of influence on later career. Story of illness with scarlet fever. [51:31] Comments on teaching of science, MS. Mentions influence of chemistry teacher Dr Goard. Comments on JA Teegan’s physics lessons. [53:52] Comments on teaching of other subjects; lack of interest in literature at school; sense of self as ‘practical’ in contrast to brother.
Interview with Oceanographer Sir Anthony Laughton.