Sugden, Derek (2 of 5). National  Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2014-07-15, 2014-09-24, 2014-12-16, 2015-10-07

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home in Watford, Hertfordshire

  • Interviewees

    Sugden, Derek, (1924-2015) (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dillon, Niamh (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: [Session two: 24 September 2014] DS memories of primary school: remembers his ability to read, mentions his wife’s assessment of his reading. His wife Jean trained at the Froebel Institute. [00:04:14] Mentions the way he interprets letters. His happy memories of primary school: his enjoyment of singing. [00:06:45] DS’s fondness for a girl at school and trying to do as well in class as her. How they were assessed at school. [00:08:24] DS ability with numbers, his children’s ability with numbers. [00:10:22] Memories of Hitchen Grammar School: the different ability streams – story about his father encouraging DS to study German but the school recommended Latin. [00:12:54] DS talks about his parents’ feeling about his future career – his parents’ were very relaxed about their children’s choices. Comments on enjoying building a tree house as a boy. [00:15;34] At school he remembers a map of the world coloured red with British Empire possessions – being taught about the empire as a child. His parents’ view of the Empire. [00:17:40] Memories of the abdication of Edward VIII. [00:19:50] DS says that the Spanish Civil War awakened his political consciousness. The right wing press in Britain in the 1930s. [00:22:18] His mother’s dismay at the outbreak of the Second World War. Recalls being recommended at school despite his absences with asthma. [00:24:53] His ability in maths, his enjoyment of history at school, memories of his history teacher [00:28:36] remembers the questions on the history paper. [00:29:47] His father gave him Das Kapital for his 16th birthday, his interest in history. Reflects on how the First World War was taught at school, [00:32;31] His family’s involvement in the Second World War (one uncle was a conscientious objector) . DS wanted to study maths and art – being advised by his career master to study architecture or engineering. During the war it was hard to find apprenticeships so he joined a structural engineering firm in the East End of London. [00:38:12] Describes the firm, Arthur Foster – mentions the men in the drawing office who were Labour voters but quite right wing. [00:40:55] Story about reading the philosopher Kant and a comment on it in the drawing office. Going to see West Ham FC. DS became a minimum wage secretary of the Engineering drafting union. [00:44:08] The Conservative politics of those in the engineering works. DS describes East Ham in London. [00:46:44] DS role as an apprentice – learning to make technical drawings. [00:48:56] Details his drawing tools. [00:50:40] Describes being put in charge of a job to repair an iron bridge in Nottingham – how they went about repairing Wilford Toll Bridge – lack of consulting engineers at the time. Story about the foreman wanting to sell redundant equipment/material from the job – DS on ‘fiddling’ by foreman on sites and how it was considered a perk of the job. His second job working at White’s office on Tate & Lyle’s at London’s docks in 1946 – meeting Ronald Hobbs. Designing a silo for storing sugar. DS describes the first job he worked on at Tate and Lyle’s which was an office block – what he learnt by being on the job – describes constructing a manhole. He qualified as a structural engineer in 1952 – talks about how difficult the exam was – looking for a job and being advised by his friend Ronald Hobbs to apply for Arup. [01:10:33] He was interviewed by Ronald Jenkins. Compares Arup to other engineering firms.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Derek Sugden, structural engineer. The interviewee died in December 2015, before the interview had been completed. Much of his work on acoustics is therefore not included.

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