Derbyshire, Andrew (1 of 23) National Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Interviewees

    Derbyshire, Andrew, (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Croft, Catherine (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: AD states that he was born in Sheffield by Caesarean section and lived in Newbold Moor, a Chesterfield suburb. AD’s father had a draper’s shop at Whittington Moor. AD recalls gas light at a first house before the move to Newbold Moor, where he lived until he went to Cambridge. This house was designed by his Uncle Bill in Parker and Unwin style. Lists its rooms, including a maid’s bedroom, and notes that it was designed to have a drawing room and extra bedroom added, but that this never happened. The c.3/4 acre garden had flowers at the front flowers, a garage used by AD as a workshop, and back garden vegetables (tended by his father and a gardener) There was an orchard with hen houses where AD and his elder sister played “houses” . Outlines composition of his father’s family. Father was the eldest followed by Bill then four or five brothers and two sisters. Paternal grandparents were economic migrants who AD believes had apprenticeships in Chesterfield as drapers. His grandmother was from Harding, Lincolnshire and his grandfather from Curbar in Derwent Valley. As well as the shop in Whittington Moor, designed by Uncle Bill, they built an adjacent bank and pub, and a large house called Curbar House. AD not sure how they managed to be so successful. Speculates that local wealth came from armaments which had a knock on effect on their drapers business. AD did not meet this grandfather who died of appendicitis Grandparents enjoyed the shop, in contrast to Ad’s father and his Uncle Charlie. Father did work for Sitwells at Renishaw Hall. AD recalls visit to estate manager’s thatch cottage, and furniture covered in dust sheets. Father took him on cycle rides to Chatsworth, Bolsover and Hardwick. AD’s mother was from Saltash near Plymouth where her parents were pawn brokers. They had a son who got someone pregnant and they fled to Canada, and returned impoverished to live with daughter Mabel in St Austell and then Carvis Bay. AD’s only memory is of them as small background figures. AD’s mother was inhibited in talking about sex and relationships. Both parents were disappointed. Father would have like to have been a farmer and spent time with farming and market gardening relations. Mother was ambitious. They met on a Methodist Church holiday in Cornwall. Mother was a teacher. Father was not able to have further education, but put several brothers through university and to public school. AD’s paternal grandmother had a relation who built windmills, one remains in Harvey which AD describes proudly. A glamorous visitor was AD’s Uncle Sidney who had studied chemistry and worked for ICI looking for Bauxite around the world, mainly in Malaysia. AD spent Saturday mornings talking to his paternal grandmother who was the matriarch of the family living at Curbar House. AD’s father was a member of The Left Book Club, pro Boar, and a self -declared republican who refused to join the masons, or participate in politics. The family went to chapel until AD challenged the intelligence of a Methodist preacher on the basis of his use of a steam engine analogy. AD speculates on how others perceived him and his impact on those around him. Has concluded that he might have been smug about his own cleverness.

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