Oral history of British science
Higton, Dennis (Part 4 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 4: Remarks on starting at RAE: Being placed into aerodynamics department after apprenticeship; first day as an apprentice; assignment to training shop followed by other departments, such as instruments and flight line; learning to work with other people. [03:30] Remarks on transfer between departments, staff taking interest in helping apprentices, finishing apprenticeship in small wind tunnels. [05:58] Comments on: small tunnels; maintenance and modification section; engine department, where DH examined captured enemy engines; [09:30] DH's interest in aero-engines; tin-bashers shop; Farnborough having manufacturing expertise, even including a foundry and pattern shop. [12:05] Comments on: colleagues and 'mates' Fred Millar, Albert Rows, Tommy Froud, Harold Martin, whose father was important in GEC, but just wanted to stay at workbench; discovering sabotaged spark plugs in enemy engines, particularly Italian ones. [15:35] Remarks on: Harold Martin, well bred; Freddy Millar, who helped DH with car engine repair; manager Heddon; DH considering it an honour to work there; things learned in apprenticeship. [19:33] Remarks on Farnborough when DH started: awe inspiring; expected standards of behaviour, precious nature of hand build tools; tiers of offices overlooking workshops; making incendiary bombs; anecdote about mis-making battery clips. [26:14] Remarks on working day: 7:25 start; no canteen; night school, which was hard keeping up with due to pressure of work. [27:44] Remarks on: night school; curiosity taking him into different departments; enjoying variety of work; primitive conditions. [31:05] Remarks on: night school, subjects such as maths, aerodynamics, design; still living with parents in Farnham; reading 'Aircraft Production' magazine. [33:55] Remarks on: sudden influx of women into lower technical jobs; water fountains; layout of workshops; apprentice head Ben Gunn; tiring work; having every eighth day off; cycling to Ross-on-Wye with friend Tom Woolford to visit an auntie; [38:33] colleague and friend Bob Shilling, who was a head Scout in the Farnborough area and had all the attributes of a good scout; spare time activities, such as looking at churches and cycling; death of Bob Shilling and many freinds. [42:10] Remarks on: limited social life at RAE; running youth group c.1943, which was joined by his wife to be; wife Joy's family adopting DH. [43:25] Remarks on wife Joy: met in choir; ATS driver, dressed smartly; shared interests with DH; enjoyed walking; visiting Joy's parents in Wroughton with John Charnley and his wife Mary; Joy going down well in America; deciding to marry, DH not being able to afford fare to attend John Charnley and Mary's wedding; parents' mixed reactions; marrying at Wroughton in 1945 and honeymooning in Tintangel; first child in 1949. [50:08] Story about learning to fly and Joy's family reaction to him spending time away from her. Remarks on: benefits of marriage; Farnborough's university atmosphere; being invited to parties with Joy.
Interview with aeronautical engineer Dennis Higton.