Wilford, Michael (1 of 11)

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, East Grinstead

  • Interviewees

    Wilford, Michael, 1938- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dillon, Niamh (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Michael Wilford [MW] Explains that the recording is taking place at his home in Sussex. Born on 9 September 1938 in Surbiton, Surrey. Mentions memories of doodlebugs during Second World War. Anderson [Morrison] shelter in the living room. [00:03:00] Father was hydraulics engineer – MW briefly explains his job. Father was one of four brothers born in Newark, Notts. MW didn’t know paternal grandmother. Mentions that two paternal uncles migrated to Australia. [00:05:00] Mentions his father’s upbringing – his father’s skill with his hands – describes his ability to make things around the house – his father was a keen gardener and grew vegetables and fruit. [00:10:00] Talks about his paternal uncles who migrated to Australia. Describes his childhood home that was a typical 1930s semi-detached house, MW was the oldest of three children. Mentions decoration in the home. [00:13:00] [ MW] Painting his bedroom green and blue. The air-raid shelter in the dining room. [00:015:00] Talks about his parents’ resourcefulness. [00:20:00] Describes the family garden: with chicken coop, shed and path, which his father made. His father’s enjoyment of making things and tending to his allotment. [00:23:00] Mentions his father’s strong protestant work ethic – probably inherited from grandfather. Parents’ love of cycling – his parents’ Christian faith, church attendance on Sunday. Family cycling holidays and leisure – explains why they liked cycling. [00:28:00] Mentions parents’ strong moral values and commitment to the community. Talks about his parent tragic early death in a road accident, mentions how it was a maturing experience as he had just married and had one child. [00:37:00]. Talks about his father’s opposition to MW becoming an architect – MW reaction to this and how it made him more determined. [00:41:00] How he got a job as an architectural trainee in a practice specialising in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, then a place on the course at the North London Polytechnic. [00:43:00] Mentions starting work with Stirling and Gowan and studying in the evenings. After Stirling and Gowan split, MW joined another firm. Mentions how architectural education was very technical and effect this had on design [00:45:00]. Describes his infant school near Surbiton, remembers walking on his own – memories of that school. Mentions how he scraped through the 13 Plus exam and went to technical school, mentions he was a late developer academically. [00:48:12] Mentions how his parents’ prioritised their children’s happiness over academic success. Mentions how he had already decided to become an architect. His mother had been a telephonist in Surbiton before her marriage. Maternal grandfather worked at the waterworks in Surbiton – how his parents met at the waterworks. MW did a milk round on Saturday mornings and delivered milk to his grandparents. [00:51:00] Limited memories of his maternal grandfather who died quite young. Memories of his maternal grandmother – reflects on the privations they must have faced during the First World War – points to a clock that was inherited from his great-aunt. [00:56:07] His mother had only one brother. Discusses how rooted he felt in that locality – the advantages of living in the suburbs as a child (the green space) – describes the freedom he had as a child to explore his surroundings. [01:00:02] Discusses attitudes to dangers: anecdote about playing with a cart as a child which had no brakes. [01:02:47] Making home-made cigarettes in the scouts and being violently sick. [01:04:15] Describes his sister Wendy who became a nurse and his brother Colin who worked as a telecom engineer for British Telecom. Describes their different characters. Mentions there was three years between each of them. Their close relationship. [01:09:02] Reflects on his brother becoming an engineer and MW decision to become an architect. MW discusses his family’s support for the Labour Party – reflects on how his father saw himself in terms of class. [01:14:19] Discusses his memories of the British Empire and the importance of Britain’s place in the world – mentions having five children, discusses the younger three who are mixed race and adopted. [01:17:16] Mentions how Surbiton was a homogenous area (white and protestant). MW came into contact with a more diverse mix of people when he started work. [01:19:02] Recalls his visits to central London – seeing men dressed in bowler hats with umbrellas – remembers wearing formal dress to work – wearing a smock in the drawing office. [01:22:21] Recalls his mother knitting and making their clothes, wearing short trousers – his school uniform. [01:24:44] MW Describes in detail his mother’s appearance. [01:27:34] Describes in detail his father’s appearance. [01:29:] Reflects on the importance of their appearance to his parents’ – his father’s ‘short back and sides’ haircut, shaving. [01:31:29] MW Describes his father’s character. [01:33:31] Reflects on his desire to become an architect as a child – his perception of architecture – [01:38:12] explains why architecture was so appealing. Remembers his first meccano set – describes a piece of meccano. [01:42:19] Explains playing with this in the dining room – talks about the gender stereotyping at the time. [01:45:21] Describes girls’ activities: cooking, sewing, knitting, and boys activities. Talks about contact he had with girls as a boy [01:47:01] meeting his wife Angela aged 16 at dancing lessons. Describes going to ballroom dancing lessons – explains why he started dancing lessons, music played at the dance. [01:52:01] Talks about how his parents’ didn’t really go out socially. [01:55:09] Listening to Bill Haley’s ‘Rock around the Clock’, reflects on being a teenager. [01:58:07] Describes meeting his future wife, Angela, describes her sympathetic nature, contrasts their characters. [02:02:11] Talks about women in the architectural profession and how this has changed over time. Reflects on why women are better at certain aspects of architecture then men. [02:05:01] Explains the subjects taught at his technical school: reflects on advantages and disadvantages of the school. [02:09:50] Discusses the excellent technical education in Germany. [02:11:50] Talks about what his school friends did on leaving school. Briefly describes the full employment open to school leavers, his first few jobs on leaving school.

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