Oral history of British science

Forrest, Michael (Part 1 of 14). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Abingdon

  • Interviewees

    Forrest, Michael, 1934- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Born 1934 London Middlesex Hospital; father from Bootle, Liverpool; Mother from Mill Hill, London; parents confectioners who moved to Aberdare before war; house on Brynteg Terrace in pretty valley; Arthur Leslie Forrest and Ivy Eileen. [01:40] Remarks on father: amateur magician; spiritualist; anecdote about Catholic mother needing permission from Pope to marry him, resulting in MF having two Catholic godparents; anecdote about seances in the home, but MF attending Unitarian Sunday school; father's outgoing personality and enjoyment of cards; master baker, wife retired after marriage; matriarchal grandmother and uncles in Liverpool. [06:55] Remarks on life in valley: Welsh area, but neighbours English; concerts and eisteddfod; isolated area; English character of Cardiff; good relations between English and Welsh, mining background; anecdote about Italian café owners not allowing daughters to mix with locals; anecdote about Jewish family not letting their children play with locals; Italian prisoners of war; best friend living in nearby grand house named 'Fairfield' with Americans billeted there; [11:55] nearby miners lamp work factory. [12:30] Description of Aberdare: main street with upmarket shops, affluent town in decline; park with lake where people socialised; four cinemas, including The Rex with an organ, and the Palladium with lovers seats, MF enjoying B-movies and cowboys and Indians films; Colosseum theatre; self contained community; nearby mines, wife's father a miner; steep streets with seats for miners with silicosis to rest; anecdote about miners bathing in tin bath in kitchen; [18:10] miner's higher rations; MF attitudes to mining; anecdote about MF at wife's father's funeral. [20:00] Remarks on father: job as manager of high class confectioner in grocers; extrovert with interest in conjuring. [22:00] Remarks on: mother, girl guide helper, submerged by father's activities, brilliant cook, quiet, determined not to be Welsh, slightly snobbish; MF still sounding Welsh, limited knowledge of Welsh language and limited Welsh teaching. [25:10] Remarks on: local 'Town Council School' primary, cultured North Walian headmaster who pushed MF to read; cultured atmosphere of Aberdare, mining institutes to help miners better themselves, differences to England; effects of atmosphere on broadening MF's interests. [28:10] Remarks on MF hobbies: stamp collecting; model aircraft; collecting train engine numbers according to Allan & Co books; limited outlook of valley; trips to Porthcawl, Cardiff, Merthyr, Rhondda, Brecon; later interest in photography. [32:15] Comments on Saturday job in Bud Morgan's garage mending engines, aged 12: exotic cars such as Morgan three wheelers. [37:05] Remarks on: model aircraft interest; MF curious about radio and electricity; coal mining machinery; nearby large cable works. [38:55] Discussion about MF childhood desire to design cars named 'Hassington-Stavely'; switching interests to bridges, impressive bridge in Pontypridd. [43:15] Remarks on: parents hopes for him; anecdote about sister Monica's interest in art; MF activities in morally strict scouts; parent's expected standard of behaviour; influence of local chapel goers on behaviour, such as neighbour Mrs Morris. [47:00] Remarks on MF religious outlook: open minded; noticing differences in church atmosphere; attending different churches as a child; social aspects of church, vicars involved with communities; mother stopping being Catholic over issue of limbo; father not practising spiritualism as a religion but interested in it; father keeping spiritualism quiet, seances; mother anti spiritualism; parent's keen that MF should get on in life; MF following mother more than father.

  • Description

    Life story interview with physicist Dr Michael Forrest.

  • Related transcripts

    Dr Michael Forrest interviewed by 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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