Oral history of British science
Higton, Dennis (Part 3 of 24). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee’s home, Shrewton, Salisbury
Higton, Dennis, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 3: Remarks on: parents probably meeting in Methodist Church; father much affected by First World War experiences. Remarks on mother: fine woman, but concerned over finances; poor diet probably contributing to death from pneumonia; mother's death in 1929; mother introducing DH to Methodist Church; enjoyed returning to Arundel; story about grandfather's artificial leg; liked sister Brenda's pluck; rows with father; story about DH not wanting to start school; world taking on different shape after her death and move to new house near Farnham. [06:25] Remarks on life in new house: playing everyday; walking to school in all weathers. Story about being attacked by local louts. Remarks on school: limitations of education, being made to measure temperature of every thermometer in the school; [08:55] attending East End Boys School, Peterborough School, where they were bullied due to different accents, East Street School Farnham, better than East End School; sister and Ken settling in easily to new schools. [11:27] Comments on attending Guildford Tech: practical work, maths classes, engineering drawing; training people to go into factories with engineering fundamentals; description of site; limitations of DH education up to that point, such as not knowing what homework was; DH not liking it much, having problems with other boys' behaviour and being physically frail; leaving about 16. [15:40] Comments on job at Mid Wessex Water: got job thanks to neighbour Frank Brown; 15 shillings a week wage; not fitting in because he was young and inexperienced in dealing with people; job measuring and sketching well water depth; positive influence of Bill Sawyer teaching him things; being warned he had no prospects at water company and being rescued by Farnborough apprenticeship. [18:54] Remarks on colleagues at water company: Chief engineer T. Irvine Hudson [?]; Bill Sawyer; clerk Reggie Selfox [?]. [20:25] Comments on: apprenticeship, talking to Donnie Collins about prospects for war; limited awareness of world situation in 1930s, other than Germany and air raids; joining Home Guard, disliking it so became an Air Cadet's trainer; difficulties of balancing Home Guard with studies; blacking out of workshops with blinds, which DH had to do in the mornings. [24:10] Remarks on food: limited refreshments at Farnborough; living off food found in countryside while young; eating bread mainly, apart from small Sunday roast, porridge; blackberrying in Autumn. [26:33] Remarks on social class: very low in Aldershot, slight raise when they moved to Farnham; continuing to attend Church, where he helped out; tending to his appearance. [29:41] Story about an argument over his father's anti-Labour party stance. Remarks on father taking expensive E A Abbot cars to the Motor Show at Olympia, drawing cars full scale for clients, with reference to photographs. [32:45] Remarks on: father's difficulties keeping costs at work down. [34:00] Comments on Bill Sawyer: chief draughtsman, also produced charts using draughtsman pens; helped DH understand things, such as boilers; story about breaking a picture that Bill Sawyer repaired; helped give DH prospects; family; anecdote about including his time at the waterworks in his 'Who's Who' entry. [37:55] Remarks on: benefits of year at waterworks: human behaviour, learning to work with others, tact; table tennis; people pushing DH on; proud of DH becoming an apprentice [short pause]; good .22 rifle shot, which benefited DH in his home guard training. [42:30] Remarks on: time precious as a student, fainting one morning and falling asleep at dinner; discipline of clocking on at RAE; apprentice number AP5; RAE supervisor's warning that 2 of his class would die through women and motorbikes before the course was over, Ken Ingles subsequent death in motorcycle accident; [46:05] parents positive reaction to DH getting an apprenticeship; grateful to mother for finding him apprenticeship advert.
Interview with aeronautical engineer Dennis Higton.