Banking & finance
Durlacher, Nicholas (1 of 18) National Life Stories: City Lives
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Jobbing; Futures exchange
1995-03-01, 1995-04-01, 1995-23-11
Is part of (Collection)
interviewee's office, London
Durlacher, Nicholas, 1946-, (speaker, male)
Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker, female)
Part 1 (tape 1 side A): Nick Durlacher [NL], born 20 March 1926 in Plaxtol, Kent. Parents married 1945. Engaged before WWII arranged to marry on Dad's first leave. Dad taken PoW at Calais, posted missing, eventually released by Americans in 1945. Father never talked much about experiences as PoW. but ND and his brother occasionally asked him about the war. Father won M.C. at Calais and told them how this came about. Talks here about mother's correspondence with father throughout war - also with her sons when they were away at school - good letter writer. Brother two years younger named William Patrick known as Bill. Cannot remember Plaxtol but talks about family home in Sevenoaks called 'Whitefriars'. Talks about mother - never went to work apart from a spell in a Mosquito factory during the war. At home she employed a cook, housemaid and gardener. Describes 'Whitefriars' - built in '30's by brother of J. B. Priestley - development of stockbroker belt there. Describes area and what happened when father sold to someone in the oil industry. Describes house and furnishings - good pictures and antiques. Branch of family had owned an antique shop in Bond Street. He and brother enjoyed ' 50s and ' 60s pop music - little or no classical music in the house. Mother had been forced to learn piano as a child, disliked it and vowed never to do the same to any children of hers. ND admits to complete ignorance of classical music. Memories of childhood - 4 or 5 years old having tea at 4.30pm with nanny who was an avid listener to Mrs Dale's Diary - hilarious description of nursery tea prepared by nanny. Talks about origins of family - Jewish from towm called Baden (now Durlach). Came to England with the first Hanoverian king. First Durlacher he knows about was a chiropodist. Jews at that time denied a family name and so took name of place they came from. First Durlacher was chiropodist to George I. Cannot remember paternal grandfather who died in '30s. Remembers Esmond Durlacher, father's first cousin and senior member of family. Grandfather had had small family business on London Stock Exchange. He was Neville Durlacher and firm was F. & N. Durlacher (i.e. Fred and Neville) - youngest and oldest members of family - jobbers in rubber. Describes working rules of Stock Exchange in early part of this century. Thinks firm must have been successful if father's accounts of their lifestyle are to be believed. Neville lived in Stoke Poges, Bucks, and Fred in Surrey. Recounts father's description of the households. Recalls two stories about F. and N. and their dealing in rubber - first the boom years before and during WW1 and the collapse of the rubber market - switched to dealing in breweries and distilleries. References here to father's travels as a boy with his family - South of France in summer, unusual in those days - water skiing - going to Ceylon when elder sister married Leslie Dow a tea-planter there. Describes hierarchy of family business until end of WWII. Talks about post-war economy and favourable effect on brewery companies. About mergers and takeovers. About small jobbing firms in shoes, textiles, chemicals etc. who were having a tough time. Esmond a man of great foresight - bought defunct or semi-defunct firms and by Big Bang in 1986 there were 50 partners. Firm now called Wedd Durlacher - details of merger with Wedd Jefferson, largest equity firm. Esmond retired aged about 65 - Nigel Mordaunt became senior partner. Remembers being taken to various different areas of the City where firm had premises - Austin Friars post-war, Austral House in London Wall. Father used to drive from Plaxtol in 1946 and park his car outside the office in Broad Street. Memories of development of bombed areas of City - developed by Jack Cotton - site looked across to Barbican. Being taken up to seventh floor in high speed lift of brand new office - views across London to Hampstead Heath, Blackfriars and so on. Now one can just about see across the road. Talks about early use of computers in office - English Electric - although Lyons were first to use their Leo machine in the late '50s. Remembers being fascinated by seeing use of punchcards. Gives more details of office equipment, i.e. telex - but most business done face to face on floor of Stock Exchange - headed notepaper had telegram code. Describes the Austral House offices - brand new and very smart. Daily Express ran a big photomontage. They had 40 or 50 telephone handsets - largest installation at that time in London. Open plan dealing floor. Catering arrangements. Menus - staff - alcohol. Memories of working on floor of Stock Exchange when he first joined. People very disciplined about lunch hour even most senior partner - always 1pm to 2pm. Gradually lunch hours became more extended, ie. 12.30pm to 3pm. Drinking in City always a problem. Gives views on consumption of alcohol and differing effects on people and their work. Says Stock Exchange thought of as a club and most members considered it important to be able to 'hold one's drink'. People not prepared at that time to talk about a 'drink problem' or about counselling. More here about catering facilities - mentions a firm they used called 'High Table'.
Interview with Nicholas Durlacher CBE, member of the Stock Exchange (1970–86), Partner at Wedd Durlacher (1972-86) and Chairman of Elexon Ltd (2000–10).