Oral history of British science
Charnley, John (Part 1 of 23)
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Interviewee's home, Camberley
Charnley, John, 1922- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 1 [1:24:37][Interview One: October 7 2010] Born 4 September 1922, Shrewsbury Road, Garston, Liverpool. Comments on parents and family: George Edward Charnley, Liverpudlian, skilled woodworker in building trade, former Royal Engineer; Katherine Wederburn Mathieson, from Cumberland; maternal grandmother; father's brothers Bert and Tom, who were also practical men. [04:26] Remarks on father: practical, loving relationship with mother, sensitive, lived until 88, out of work in Depression; took tram or cycled to work; Anglican. Comments on JC's co-educational Church of England school in Grassendale: run by Mr Ashcroft then Billy Davies, who taught JC to swim; description of Victorian school and playground; fancying Phyllis Roberts; continued attending after family move to Springwood. [09:33] Remarks on: being an only child, except for a miscarried sibling, who he learned of from cousin Jean, family historian; new home at 17 Darwall Road, visited while building by toy motor car with father; being a choir boy at new Church on estate; sporting activities at school; Mrs Gregson's sweetshop. [14:35] Story about crushing friend Mabel Tharme's fingers in a mangle while playing. Remarks on new house in Springwood: Liverpool corporation house; story about breaking a glass pane while helping father build greenhouse; three bedroom semi-detached; near number 8 tram terminus. [20:25] Describes journey to Liverpool by tram, passed Penny Lane. Remarks on: school scholarship; support of parents at grammar school; story about teacher Mr Tomlinson asking JC's parents that he stay on to do sixth form rather than go to work for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board; [24:35] Remarks on: father teaching him cricket; being in choir and Boys Brigade; camps in the Isle of Man and Lake District, where he beat local vicars at chess, paid for by parents. Remarks on money in childhood: period when father was out of work; buying secondhand school uniform or new from Blacklers rather than more expensive John Henry Lees. [28:40 Pause - Door bell] Comments on father: worked as carpenter for building firm; job building Seamen's Union, on which JC made tea in vacations; woodworked at home; background of family engineering company whose success was destroyed by grandfather's excesses. Remarks on mother: from Workington, Cumbria; holidays in maternal aunt's home; sweet natured; Catherine Kennedy Mathieson; died of cancer aged about 50. Remarks on: father remarrying to 'Aunt' Doris and move south to Windsor in old age; watching football with his father; travelling to grammar school by tram or cycling; playing cricket and football before rugby at grammar school. [38:25] Story about beating a Welsh school at rugby while evacuated, resulting in a favourable impression on local girls at a subsequent dance. Remarks on hobbies: helping father with woodworking; singing in choir; interested in practical activities; built air raid shelter. [43:18] Remarks on: father being air raid warden; spending nights in an Anderson shelter with mother. Comments on Oulton High School, attended aged 10 c.1933: winning a scholarship, at a time when his father was unemployed; parents not thinking about education much. Remarks on: being in card playing family; being in the choir in All Hallows Church in Springwood, where the choir boys exchanged comics, which they read in services. [51:30] Remarks on religious background: moral upbringing, father church warden, mother involved with charity work, joining church youth club, helping father build a church noticeboard. Remarks on: dates of evacuation; failing a scholarship to Oxford; duties of a school head prefect. [55:36] Comments on dancing: youth club dances; dancing with local head girl Huldah Jenkins after win at rugby match in Wales; dancing with wife Mary; story about dancing more recently at friends' wedding; bands at dances; youth club dancing partners Barbara Beswick, Dorothy Foyer, Jean Johnson. [1:01:00] Remarks on: cricket; wide ethnic and religious mix in school; morning religious assembly at school. Comments on religion: was religious but not so much now; maintains standards but doesn't see the need for religion in them; story about problems of dealing with church bureaucracy for his Anglican daughter Katrina to marry a Catholic husband but finding a local compromise; compromises with Catholicism in his family; granddaughter Leonie's Catholic family. [1:10:45] Comments about wife Mary: parents' deaths lead her becoming the ward of Dr Pugmire, a Quaker; met JC at Oulton School; moved to Leeds, leading to her and JC meeting for walking trips in the Pennines and Cumbria hills; influence of her religious outlook on JC. [1:17:15] Comments on: Dr Pugmire's marriage and movements during war; Mary's completion of training and move to work at Botley;s Park War Hospital, near Guildford where JC visited her at weekends. Story about Dr Pugmire's refusal to approve Mary's marriage to JC and lack of attendance at the ceremony.
Interview with aeronautical engineer and government scientist, Sir John Charnley