Middleton, Bernard (1 of 1) National Life Stories Collection: Crafts' Lives

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  • Subjects

    Book arts

  • Recording date

    2007-11-19, 2007-11-26

  • Interviewees

    Middleton, Bernard, 1953 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Hughes, Hawksmoor (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Bernard Chester Middleton [BM] born East Dulwich London, 1924. Paternal grandfather postman to Charles Dickens [CD] given CD’s button hook as memento of CD’s death, grandfather later worked as a butler. Comments on BM not researching his family history. Description of paternal grandparents, their modest Victorian home, grandmother’s resemblance to Queen Mary, her profession as a cook. [05:00] Description of maternal family, grandmother member of the Defrain family, grandfather, Fredrick Webster a master builder, mentions their deaths before BM was born. [07:00] Description of father’s career, under-age service with the Royal Artillery in Salonica during the First World War, trade scholarship for the Central School of Arts and Crafts [CSAC], London, training as a bookbinder, remarks on BM and father being taught in the same room by the same man, Peter Mcliesh and on father’s fellow student, William Mathews, becoming BM’s teacher. Father’s service in the Home Guard, employment with Sangorski and Sutcliffe, Poland Street, Soho, London, then with the British Museum bindery. [10:18] Description of mother, her good education, employment as a secretary. Comments on parents meeting in Horiman’s Museum gardens, remarks on their marriage. [12:53] Comments on BM’s upbringing as a Congregationalist, Cub Scouts and on parents not being religious. Remarks on father’s leftwing politics and BM’s support for the Conservative Party, mother belonged to the Primrose League. [14:18] Description of BM’s Edwardian childhood home, Ashbourne Grove, East Dulwich, BM’s kindly but strict upbringing, Mother’s name Doris Hilda Middleton, father, Regent Marius Middleton. BM’s toys. Parents’ taste in music, comments on listening to the radio. [19:42] Description of parent’s reading habits, father ‘middle brow’ mother read poetry. Comments on BM not sitting the Eleven Plus. Description of mother’s cooking and shopping. [24:23] Short description of family Christmases. Remarks on being an only child, mentions mother’s confinement after childbirth. [26:32] Description of attending Grove Vale Junior School, belonging to the Cubs. Mentions local parks. Remarks on trips up to London, story about BM’s appendicitis. Story about BM fracturing his humerus. [34:04] Short description of attending Adys Road Senior School. Remarks on parents’ having electricity installed in the house. [36:35] Long description of studying bookbinding at the CSAC, division between trade boys and students, mentions Elizabeth Greenhill, curriculum, evacuation to Newbury, Berkshire, [40:55] Description of moving with parents to 1930’s house in Kenton, London, remarks on parents renting out their old house. Remarks on seeing a telephone kiosk blown up by the IRA (Irish Republican Army), Euston Road, London, 1938. Comments on the out-break of World War Two, father joined Home Guard, father born 1898, mentions father’s war work. [47:10] Long description of BM’s apprenticeship at the British Museum bindery, day release to London School of Printing [LCP], winning first prize for City and Guilds examination, conscription in 1943, remarks on failing the air force high altitude test, BM’s mentor, working conditions, BM’s disciplined life, description of books bound, BM’s apprenticeship as a forwarder and training in gold tooling. [01:00:36] Description of the differences between trade and studio bookbinders. Detailed description of the process of forwarding. [01:06:03] Short description of BM’s day release at LCP. Remarks father returning to work for Sangorski and Sutcliffe as foreman of the forwarders. Comments on BM’s pay, Mentions BM’ marriage in 1951. Comments on BM’s level of skill at bookbinding before joining the navy. Long description of BM’s navy service, training in Plymouth, service with HMS Londonderry, served in a sloop ship, life on board ship, work in signals, BM’s friendships, D-Day, service in Australia, story about commanding a ship, demobilisation 1946, comments on BM’s shy nature. [01:28:50] Returning from war, finishing his apprenticeship, leaving the British Museum (1949) to work as craftsman-demonstrator at the Royal College of Art [RCA]. Comments on mixing with studio binders. Description of Roger Powell [RP]. [01:31:57] Remarks on renaissance in studio bookbinding in England since the 1940s, mentions Edgar Mansfield. Comments on BM’s change in opinion towards studio binders. Comments on trade binders and studio binders’ different approaches to binding structures and conservation. Description of British Museum bindery’s inappropriate treatment of books, mentions Sydney Cockerell comments on Douglas Cockerell’s book ‘Bookbinding and the Care of Books’, remarks on father not reading the book. Description of students Peter Waters and Sheila Waters. Comments on the skills of student bookbinders at the CSAC. Comments on the female bookbinders mentions Flora Ginn. [01:41:30] Description of BM’s bindings at the RCA, remarks on leaving to manage Zaehnsdorf’s bindery . Remarks on binding the visitors’ books for the Festival of Britain. Description of BM’s binding of ‘Bridges’ by Frank Languin, mentions the Queen Mother’s interest, mentions Hatchards bookshop. Remarks on BM’s binding for his Catholic wife. [01:45:44] Description of meeting and marrying Dora Mary Middleton (neé Davis) [DM], DM’s family background, occupation as a bookkeeper, difficult character, [01:49:09] comments on their Roman Catholic wedding (1951), BM’s regret that he has no religious faith. [01:51:08] Description of BM’s service in the Home Guard, mentions being issued with a pike. [01:55:00] Comments on BM’s disciplined character, remarks on the lack of discipline in contemporary society. Story about BM asking a craftsman if BM was semi-skilled. Short description of BM and DM’s honeymoon in Devon.

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