Oral history of British science

Brooker, Tony (Part 1 of 14). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Computer Software

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Thorpe-le-Soken

  • Interviewees

    Brooker, Ralph Anthony, 1925- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Mentions being born in Fulham, London, 1925, but moving to Putney, father dying 1965, Mother in 1967. Remarks about father: civil servant, one of a family of 6. Remarks on: grandfather Harry Brooker [HB], born 1848, genre painter, website set up TB's son Steve; HB's family in Kensington and Fulham. Remarks on: starting primary school in 1930, living a sheltered life, being the youngest of four children, lower middle class family life. Remarks on: sister graduating in 1938 from Royal Holloway; other sister Judy leaving private school to study nursing at Guys Hospital; brother George Brooker [GB] being brought up by grandmother, TB and GB not getting on well, GB dying in Australia 2009. Further remarks on GB: disappearing from 1958 until TB's son traced him to Australia in the 1990s [mic noise] [07:24] Remarks on grandfather's painting career. Remarks on father: going to night school; civil service career; born in 1893; interest in history of art, visiting the Louvre in Paris in 1938 and 1939. [11:53] Short story about TB winning a saving bond poster competition in 1942, inheriting some of his grandfather's concepts. [mic noise] Remarks on TB's son Timothy, a civil engineer. Comments on memories of war: grandfather killed in air raid, experience of air raids; rationing; fire watching at university and not joining Officer Training Corps as he wanted Sunday mornings free to row. [19:55] Further comments on fire watching on the Huxley Building at Imperial College, seeing bombing of Putney, fear of anti aircraft shrapnel. [23:18] Remarks on mother: farming stock from Banbury; father labourer. Further remarks on father's self-education and interest in art, with reference to Turner's 'The Fighting Temeraire'. Remarks on: art not a large part of TB's youth, his father enjoying cycling, his parents meeting after his mother's puncture and marrying 1913. [26:53] Remarks on: parents being busy, their accession to the lower middle classes, TB having no social life. Short story about not knowing if other families used knives and forks, so restricted was his childhood. Remarks on: mother teaching him to multiply, and not wanting to know other children when he started school. [29:52] Remarks on: a science experiment at primary school, taking French, English, History at secondary school, learning little before evacuation to Petersfield, later attending a school in East Chime, resitting French to get school certificate at Chelsea. Remarks on 6th form, doing maths and sciences. Remarks on attending Emanuel School Wandsworth, not being academically bright, his father paying his fees and being keen on education. [35:01] Remarks on father doing best for children: elder sister's graduation from Royal Holloway; younger sister Judy's nursing career in Guy's Hospital and Alexandria Nursing Corps; brother George not being academic, attending Battersea Grammar School and joining the RAF. [mic noise] Comments on the bombing of Germany, Professor [Hyman] Levy's [HL] opinion on the bombing of Germany as a necessity. Further remarks on authority in German society during the war and Ribbentrop's comments to Churchill on this matter. [0:40:108 Comments on his feelings about the war, his cousin who was jailed for 6 months in Wormwood Scrubs as a conscientious objector until released for farm work. Remarks on graduating in 1945 but escaping conscription and and national service.

  • Description

    Life story interview with computer scientist Tony Brooker

  • Related transcripts

    Tony Brooker interviewed by Tom Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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