Feilden, Bernard (1 of 43) National Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Interviewees

    Feilden, Bernard, 1919-2008 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Sandino, Linda (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: B in Hampstead Garden suburb; twin Francis Anthony F, second sons of Robert Humphrey F, engineer and artist. Father was Royal Horse artillery gunner Major, received MC when fifth army overun. Was gassed, badly wounded so decided to go to Canada, also for his health. Had been there as graphic designer when war declared. So took family back to Canada to British Columbia, Okinawa valley, where air good for his damaged lungs. Had small ranch; lovely place. Big influence on BF’s life. Journey on the Montrose, with aunt and nurse, that BF got v excited at sunset but only 9 months old. Extreme climate; snows. BF chopped kindling from cedar (nice and straight), knocking off icicles. Anecdote about memory of getting fresh drinking water, bringing it back in a sleigh. Father was farming the ranch but always wore a tie ‘because he was a gentleman’ but was involved in village life grading the roads. Father’s energetic and charismatic, played the flute. BF and FAF were pages in his theatrical productions. Wanted to erect electrical generator though impractical because of cold. Two younger brothers born in Canada. Wanted a girl. Tragic turning point: story of father drowning in the lake during storm; mother trying to save him. ‘He drowned in front of our eyes’. If hadn’t died would have stayed in Canada. Elder brother returned to England, lived with maternal grandmother. Rest stayed on for 4 more years but returned to an English school. Were happy despite loss. Twins worked together helping on the ranch, clearing the stumps: how it was done and ever since always loved bonfires. Story of FAF accidentally denting BF’s forehead with a pickaxe; mother not sure which one was injured. Poor mother; burden of life fell on her shoulders. When she came from London was wearing fashionable hat and neighbour said’ We are all equal here’. Hard life for her, aunt joined and had some help but not a big house. Aunt taught how to garden. In winter, BF responsible for milking his cow ‘Beauty’. In the winter would jump into her neck, and would swing her head round with ‘lovely warm belt of flesh’, strange boyhood pleasure. Twins would drive cows out; FAF had bad tempered Betty; how it was done by them both. Had wonderful time together. Stream at top of ranch, where BF fished but no one had mentioned using bait. Only ever caught fish that had got landlocked in a puddle. Salmon in river, bridge, who were speared by village boys. Village settled by Finns. life in village school; FAF pugnacious but BF not but if had big brother had better chance of surviving. School memories: left when nearly nine; only two teachers, their methods using blackboards, exquisite feeling of wiggling toes in dust. Reception in Ottowa, reminisced about school days in British Columbia. Heartbroken when had to leave, especially the dog who accompanied twins on outings to the wild woods; friend had shot black bear and ate delicious bear steak. Black bear mainly vegetarian. Mara a big memory up to age of 9. Has lots of photos. Twins not identical, different characterists; FAF strong, a fighter, a ‘True Feilden’ according to grandmother. BF opposite; fighting together but partners, enjoyed working together. He was fair haired and blue eyed; BF dark and hazel eyed. Mother: Olive Binyon, Brightwen Binyon architect: Sunderland Town Hall, Cornhall Ipswich Aldermaston Manor, and seaside houses in Felixstowe, dedicated Quaker. He was great traveller: his Middle East described, his beautiful drawings most handed over to his great grandson Michael Binyon who writes for The Times. Married Rachel Cudworth, railway people, her father WH Cudworth, first chief engineer of Stockton-Darlington railway. He was a classical scholar, chosen because he was a Quaker and it was Quaker money which built it. His two sons followed him, were apprenticed to Robert Stephenson becoming chief engineers also, though not daughters. Binyons were from Manchester, quite well off because mother took Brightwyn to Italy, to the AA’s early courses. Talented draughtsman. Died before BF born but had great influence because from age 9 decided to follow in his footsteps and become an architect.

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