Oral history of British science

Higton, Dennis (Part 24 of 24). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Aeronautical Engineering

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s home, Shrewton, Salisbury

  • Interviewees

    Higton, Dennis, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 24: Anecdote about meeting someone who knew the previous occupant of his home at Weyson Turner's funeral. Remarks on meeting Harrier designer Ralph Hooper:[1:50 short pause] meeting Ralph Hooper through work on early jets, DH visiting Hawkers factory at Kingston, where Danny Norman and Bill Bedford were test pilots; DH measuring drag on Seahawk; not discussing DH's VTOL rig; meeting Bob Marsh. [06:40] Remarks on: DH being much impressed by engineer Frank Smith; DH taking a long time to realise that profit was aircraft firms aim. [10:05] Comments on postwar period when aircraft firms tried to recruit scientific civil servants: John Charnley pursued by Gloster Aircraft Company; Frank Smith advising DH to stay at RAE; DH receiving letters from W.E.W. Petter; DH reasons for staying in civil service; DH tempted by possibility of joining Cranfield Aeronautics College; Cyril Bethwaite joining Cranfield. [15:15] remarks on: DH reasons for refusing to join Lockheed after retirement; DH interview for Lockheed and amazement at high salary on offer. [17:35] Story about DH helping to prepare a bid and brochure for a Lockheed aircraft as a rival proposal to Boeing AWACS for the RAF, confusion over whether he was working for Lockheed or Britain, exhausting trip to the USA, problems with security clearances resolved through help of DH embassy connections. [25:30] Remarks on: DH reservations over life in America; eventual purchase of AWACS; confusion over who DH was working for; clarification of political considerations behind Lockheed AWACS bid. [29:00] Comments on DH advice to Lockheed on possible sales of troop transport aircraft to Britain and use of Hercules during Falklands war for in-flight refuelling. [33:00] Remarks on: warning about problematic person as DH interview at Lockheed. [35:00] Remarks on DH stopping consultancy work: experience of working with British firm helping to win government orders; firms' troubles; industry entertainments. [38:00] Comments on interest in art: drawing at school, learning technical drawing in apprenticeship; occasionally drawing in Mid Wessex Water company; feeling that he might nurture artistic activity; daughter signing DH up to an art class in Salisbury; DH 5 year fine art course at Southampton University, including art trip to European capitals; [42:15] reasons for enjoying art, creative, similarity to engineering, emotive; no longer doing art due to hand tremors and wife's illness; art compared to engineering; DH enjoyment of still life classes; developing skills; differences of art to engineering; discussion of DH paintings. [49:30] Remarks on: change to life after death of wife; travelling; owning a house in France. [51:00] Story about buying house in France: meeting John Gregory at Boscombe who asked him to take a quarter share in house in France; driving off to France with Joy to discover their new house otherwise occupied by relatives of Madame Reyburn; renting house to art teacher Pamela [Leatherland]; later visits to house in retirement; [57:00] activities in France. [58:10] Remarks on family: daughter [Priscilla]; clever grand-daughter [Alice], well paid job in Admiralty, travelling; grandsons living around Durham and Newcastle; son Peter, younger than daughter; environmental engineer; daughter-in law Fredrica, a stage teacher; surgeon half brother [ian]; brother Ken; anecdote about wife's family referring to DH as a ne'er-do-well ; DH's welcome into wife's family near Wroughton. [1:04:50] Remarks on wife: enjoying America; supportive housewife duties; bee-keeping; enjoying tennis; supportive and well liked; brother Julian; post DH retirement activities; friends; DH missing wife's support; death in 2008 from Alzheimer's; DH caring for wife in illness until she entered a care home; picked up by police walking between Shrewton and Devizes at night. [1:13:40] Remarks on: daughter Priscilla's career in computing and DH's granddaughter Alice; busyness of earlier life; grandchildren; contact with family today; influence of DH childhood; DH upcoming birthday, including family friends like David Eagles, Joe Morrall's widow, former Red Arrow's leader. [1:21:05] Comments on DH interview.

  • Description

    Interview with aeronautical engineer Dennis Higton.

  • Related transcripts

    Dennis Higton interviewed by Dr Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

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

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