Goldfinger, Peter (1 of 33) National Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, London and the British Library

  • Interviewees

    Goldfinger, Peter, 1933- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Description of chair PG is sitting on, once owned by Erno Goldfinger [EG] and Ursula Blackwell [UB], transport command troop carrying chair from wartime aircraft. John Peter Gordon Goldfinger, born Oxford, 10 September 1933. Reasons for parents’ choice of names for PG. Parents came to England specifically so PG would be born there and would avoid military service in France; ironically national service then introduced to GB and PG had to do his. Thinks mother’s family ties may have been reason why parents settled in GB. UB came from Crosse & Blackwell family, had estate near Bushey in Hertfordshire, estate bought after war by GLC although estate chapel remains. UB had two older sisters, brother, and half-brother. UB’s brother killed on firing range at beginning of war. UB’s older sister married to prep-school headmaster. 2nd UB sister, Nancy Spendlove[NS], married to RAF pilot also killed in war; UB’s sister later had farms in Buckinghamshire and Somerset. NS had daughter and two sons, RAF connections continued. PG evacuated to Canada during war, when returned to GB would stay on NS’s farm. Details about NS. EG meticulous and hated going to NS’s house because of its untidiness and grubbiness. Kept in touch with NS until she died, her daughter (who died of MS), her son and her grandchildren. Aunt Barbie (UB’s sister) took children of PG’s generation to pantomime at Christmas so had some contact with cousins and a sense of family. PG to prep school run by John Boyce, husband of Barbie. PG in Canada aged 6-11, with school group. Return to GB sent to Hall School, Hampstead, disaster for PG, who knew no Latin or algebra due to differences in Canadian and GB syllabuses. Sent to uncle’s prep school, which had been evacuated to Scotland and where PG had wonderful time in landscape as well as being educated. School returned to its headquarters in Broadstairs, which PG found grim. Caught up with English education. PG never met NS’s husband, but has vague memories of UB’s brother before the war. UB’s father died when UB approx 11, PG has no memories of her father either. UB rebelled against her background, family keen on hunting and fishing, which she hated. UB to Paris to learn art, where met EG. UB’s grandmother illustrated children’s books. UB did not enjoy schooling. UB had good friend from Sunningdale School with whom PG is still in touch, Lesley Black [LB] Latter now lives in the Ardeche, France LB married John Houston during war, later divorced. LB tells stories of self and UB going to Paris as seventeen year olds. LB lived in California with Houston, had good collection of paintings. Details LB coming to live permanently in France in the 1950s, now lives with woman painter, Corrine. UB remade contact with LB after war, met when LB came to London, where she had use of Kensington flat. PG thinks UB didn’t have close friends in terms of sharing confidences. UB close to sister Barbie, but they had little in common in terms of their adult worlds. UB’s stepbrother, Michael Strachan,[MS] still alive. Billie Strachan, UB’s stepfather. MS didn’t inherit Blackwell money but the three sisters saw him through his education; MS became successful businessman, was head of Benn Line Shipping Company, operating out of Edinburgh. MS had two sons and two daughters, PG sees a lot of his daughters. MS was Enoch Powell’s ADC during the war. Further details Strachan relatives

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