Goldfinger, Peter (15 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 15: Among those at school, Philip Dennison remained a friend, lives in Switzerland, also Nick Grey. Saw these after school and Cambridge. NG son of West Hartlepool ship building firm; PG and NG cycled in Provence and Monaco, aged approx 16, returned via Paris, details. in Paris, Hungarian architect, former partner of father before the war; details. AC’s flats in Boulogne, details. Aged 14, with others who had been in Canada, cycled round Brittany and camped. Earlier flew to Marseilles on Sunderland flying boat to stay with family in Marseilles. Ski-ing holidays with parents, eg Zermatt. Holidays in rented house in Essex, near Thaxted. Wivenhoe. No holiday jobs as young schoolboy, but jobs when approx 18-20 when hitching round Scandinavia with Etienne. Eg worked in hotel kitchens. Attitude to money. geography master at Stowe read Damon Runyan to class which made big impact on PG. Was shy of girls, would get mother to phone to make dates for him throughout his teens. Lost virginity to Swedish woman during ski-ing holiday. He 17, she 27; when PG went to study in Paris made one or two contacts with her but otherwise lost touch. Maths and physics were the subjects PG kept up at ‘A’ level. Felt should be science based if was to be an architect. Structural engineering was other possibility. Had no aspirations. Seemed natural to follow father’s footsteps but not a strong urge for PG nor was he pushed. Read Engineering at Cambridge where got hooked on production engineering, degree was in mechanical engineering rather than structural engineering; details. Relationship engineering/design. Could have switched to architectural studies had he concentrated on structural engineering but didn’t take this route. In 1950s production engineering was poorly organised, everyone looked to US ways of doing things, eg management of production engineering, this aspect gripped PG. PG went to work in factories, after approx 3 years was disillusioned, didn’t enjoy being in factories, father rather despairing that by mid to late 20s PG didn’t know what he wanted to do, introduced him to director of one of the big contracting firms designing and building heating ventilating systems for buildings. PG joined firm, started career in building services. PG not ambitious enough. Married in last year at University. Struggled when left university and worked in factories, earned enough to live on but not much as graduate apprentice, ‘no dreams of glory’. How came to go to Cambridge - next door neighbour, Reg Winnington Ingram, had been at Trinity, colleague of his, Sandbach, tutor at Trinity, PG was sent to see Sandbach. Housemaster at Stowe had been at St Catherines, wanted PG to go there, but this bypassed. EG and UG thought it was right for PG to go to Cambridge. PG did military service between school and Cambridge, was mostly bored, details. Royal Artillery. Training camp at Oswestry, Shropshire. Never got beyond Unit Selection Board re promotion. Parents wrote to MPs re PG’s lack of promotion, thinks it was because of parental left-wing background. All PG’s friends had gone on to become officers. Gave lecture on Mau-Mau, left-wing stance. PG politically aware, influence of parents. Was never a member of a political group. Impact of Mau-Mau lecture. Shock to find adults who couldn’t read or write during military service. Welshman who rubbed onions over body to encourage hair to grow. Korean War period, intake level low.

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