Industry: water, steel & energy

Dixon, Graham (1 of 10) National Life Story Collection: An Oral History of the Water Industry

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  • Recording date

    2009-11-02, 2010-01-21, 2010-03-23, 2010-06-07

  • Interviewees

    Dixon, Graham, 1953- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Gilmour, Alison (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: [Session one: 2 November 2009] Graham Dixon [GD], Director of Yorkshire Water for Environmental Business Unit. Born County Durham. Description of earliest memories: living in Dean Bank near Ferryhill in terraced house with parents and sister. Description of house, games played as a child. Mentions playing with neighbour Christine, watching ITV at her house. Description of GD’s bedroom, shared with older sister Carole. Comments on two cousins moving in: sleeping arrangements, sharing toys. Cousins Keith and Kenneth Berry, mentions third cousin lived elsewhere. [06:07] Description of relationship with father: mentions mother worked in a shop and father took children out at weekends. Description of visits to Seaton Carew with father, remarks on relationship with cousins. Cousins from Chiltern, Newton Aycliffe, and Yorkshire. Description of father; mentions father’s car, Austin 8. Mentions grandfather lived in next street. Father began work as mechanical fitter for coal board, became training manager. Mentions visiting father’s work when living in Yorkshire. [11:50] Mentions grandparents lived in North East and Chiltern; description of relationship with grandparents. Story about paternal grandfather coming for tea; mentions his gun from the war. Description of maternal grandmother; stories about grandmother and mother. Comments on change in relationship with grandparents after GD moved to Sheffield. Paternal grandfather called Joe. Maternal grandparents, Elsie and Jim. Description of Jim who worked in coal mine. Joe worked in Dean Bank mine, Jim worked in Chiltern. Comments on community pits in North East England. [18:38] Description of Sunday routine and Sunday lunch, comments on Yorkshire puddings. Description of household chores. [22:11] Description of bathing routines and facilities. Story about feeling pressure to do well as a boy. Comments on family expectations and opportunities in 1960s, lists cousins' professional positions. Mentions family moving away from Yorkshire and joining police force. [27:15] Comments on starting school in North East England: Dean Bank Infant School. Description of uniform. Comments on teachers at infant school: description of Mrs Oates. Description of attending Sunday schools: St Lukes and a Methodist Sunday school. Comments on parents' Sunday routine. Mother worked as shop assistant and bus conductress. Mentions going on bus trips. Description of mother, comments on mother's nervousness. Comments on GD's nature as a child. [38:44] Description of relationship with sister; sister's personality. Mentions sister going to Rotherham library at weekends. Remarks on relationship with father. Comments on going to football matches together: supporting Middlesbrough, seeing amateur teams Ferryhill Athletic, Bishop Auckland. Mentions playing football for local club. [43:00] Comments on learning about death of grandfather Joe. [44:42] Comments on moving to Sheffield: mentions living in National Coal Board house in Dean Bank and parents buying house in Sheffield. Description of house in Sheffield: comments on change due to mortgage payments, mentions new bathroom, bathing routines. Mentions father's wage in 1963 and cost of house. Comments on having an awareness of money: story about needing a leather satchel for senior school. Comments on receiving pocket money; buying sweets, saving for Scalextric cars. [51:25] Comments on moving to new school in Sheffield with cousin, Keith. Description of school: Aston Lodge Primary School. Comments on art classes, winning handwriting prize. Comparison to school attended in the North East: comments on taking tests, use of the cane. GD attended Dean Bank Junior School for Boys in North East. [56:50] Comments on caning at school; story about bending spoons. Mentions seating plans at school, story about interaction with teacher Harry Ford during an exam. Remarks on reading, English, maths skills. Description of Head Teacher in Sheffield, Mr Broadbent: mentions that he taught Harold Wilson. Comments on becoming captain of GD's house at school; being selected for football team. Comments on art classes with Mr Broadbent. Mentions school radio. Further comments on school: size of school, favourite subjects, parents' response, thoughts on future career. [1:06:40] Attended Aston Woodhouse High School comprehensive, comments on not taking eleven-plus exam. Description of school and uniform. Mentions school friends Jeffrey Podmore, Christopher Foster, Ian Whittaker, Carol Streets, Sylvia October. Comments on sitting beside Harry Doncaster. Comments on school teachers, school structure. Description of favourite subjects. Comments on preparing for O Level exams. Description of history teacher Harry Atkins; story about history exam. Story about English language exam. Comments on reading habits. [1:18:42] Description of Saturday job at British Home Stores: duties, wages. Mentions buying Levi jeans, saving for a car. [1:21:15] Description of after school routine: homework, watching television. Mentions watching the news, Coronation Street, the Prisoner, the Avengers, Simon Templar (The Saint). Comments on playing football, rugby. [1:24:05] Comments on O Level grades. Mentions sister Carole's homework routine; parents' response. Mentions moving to Leeds aged 16 due to father's work with Electricity Board. Comments on changing friendships, rebelling at school. Attended Rothwell Grammar School. Mentions friends Steven Lunn, Paul Nobles, Christopher Greaves, Andrew Hampshire, Graham Booth. Mentions supporting Leeds United football team. Comments on music interests; going out in Wakefield and Leeds, drinking Tetleys bitter; meeting girls. [1:32:50] Comments on choosing subjects for A Levels; level of teaching at school. Comments on biology teacher, messing around in class with Christopher Greaves [?], reflects on interest in the subject at the time. Comments on studying chemistry, physics, general studies; parents' response. Mentions careers advice; wanting to study at Lancaster University but going to Aston University, Birmingham. Comments on being at university, returning to study Masters course in Biology of Water Management. Comments on parents' response to GD going to university. Comments on sister attending teacher training college. Mentions cousin studied medicine at Edinburgh, other cousin studied at Bradford. Reflects on moving to Birmingham, handling change, sharing a room. Studied Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. [1:44:53] Comments on thoughts about future jobs, wanting to be a river inspector, studying Masters course. Comments on loving running water, playing by rivers and sewage works in North East. Lists childhood activities. [1:47:24] Comments on field courses and visits carried out during undergraduate degree. Comments on returning to Aston University for Masters. Comments on graduating from undergraduate degree, friends' comments, graduation ceremony. Mentions grandparents Elsie and Jim attended ceremony; remarks on Elsie's influence on the family. Story about working for Leeds City Transport as a bus conductor; mentions wearing monkey boots. Comments on learning to be a bus driver. Description of receiving weekly pay and playing cards at bus depot in Middleton. Story about failing driving test. [1:56:12] Comments on transition back to university; difficulties finding accommodation. Comments on Masters course. Mentions applying to York University for teacher training; choosing to study Masters course instead. Comments on being on the dole before starting work; applying for jobs. [2:00:35] Mentions unsuccessful interview with Thames Water for research and development role. Comments on subsequent interview in Leeds. Description of successful interview in York for Assistant Chemist position. Comments on knowledge of Water Authority at the time; reasons for applying for jobs. Reflects on surprise at being offered position in York. Comments on living arrangements. [2:06:24] Description of role at laboratory in Fishergate, York. Mentions Manager Richard Hill [RH], Assistant Howard Griffin and other colleagues. Description of laboratory; clothing; responsibilities. [2:10:40] Comments on testing drinking water, sewage, trade waste. Description of biological oxygen demand process; comments on equipment used. Comments on testing samples, making judgements. Description of testing process and size of units. Comments on need for tests. [2:16:35] Comments on relationships with colleagues; comparison to action of regulatory bodies today. Remarks on effluent quality. Comments on water supply work: sampling small water treatment works, customers' houses, chlorine testing. Description of response to high or low chlorine levels. [2:21:49] Comments on prime concerns of Water Authority at the time regarding chlorine levels. Comments on managing other assistants; relationships with colleagues and atmosphere in laboratory, mentions manager RH.

  • Description

    Life Story Interview with Graham Dixon, Company Director, Yorkshire Water

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