Oral history of British science

Cartwright, David (Part 1 of 9). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Hampshire

  • Interviewees

    Cartwright, David, 1926- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: David Cartwright [DC], born 21st October 1926, Stoke Newington, London. Mentions move to hotel run by parents, Worthing, West Sussex, aged 2. Comments on closeness to seafront at Worthing. [1:28] Comments on father’s life, including running of central London detective agency, mother’s decision to move from London. Mentions French mother’s school teaching, Finsbury Park, London; primary schools attended Worthing, Brighton and Mayfield College [MC], Mayfield, East Sussex. Comments on enjoyment of/capability in mathematics, MC. Mentions view of self as ‘late starter’ educationally. [5:47] Comments on reasons for move from London to Worthing; father’s view of move; roles of mother and father in running hotel. Mentions demolition of hotel. [7:50] Comments on experience of moving between rooms. Description of site of hotel. Story of storm surge, Worthing, 1929. [10:31] Comments on childhood play, Worthing. Mentions lack of school teaching in biology; preference for mathematics and physics. Comments on relations between School Certificate [SC] and Higher School Certificate [HSC]. Mentions HSC, mathematics, [physics] and chemistry, Worthing High School [WHS]. [12:54] Comments on enjoyment of chemistry while at primary school, Brighton; reasons for later focus on mathematics/physics at WHS. [15:02] Comments on reasons for liking chemistry at primary school, Brighton; liking it less at WHS. Story of using chemistry sets in office/bicycle shed of parents’ hotel. [18:23] Comments on childhood toys/pastimes, including microscope/projector. [22:08] Comments on reading habits as a child, including favourite authors/books. [25:19] Story of taking paddle steamers with father. Comments on lack of family travel. Mentions visits to [maternal] grandmother, Paris, France; familiarity with landscapes local to Worthing. [29:21] Comments on visits to Paris, including enjoyment of the Metro, father’s involvement; regret at not knowing more about father’s life. [34:44] Comments on time spent as child with mother, including play on chalk hills near Worthing, visits to theatre. [36:49] Story of development of interest in music, at MC, 1938-1942. Comments on mother’s playing of piano; development of own listening to classical music/playing of piano. Mentions hired piano in rooms, University of Cambridge [UOC]; absence of hotel guests during World War Two [WW2]. Further comments on playing/buying of music/record players. [44:05] Comments on religious beliefs of parents, including Roman Catholic influence of maternal grandmother; influence on attendance at MC of maternal grandmother; own childhood Catholic faith. [47:54] Comments on father’s disapproval of toy guns/military service, connected to World War One [WW1] experiences. Mentions Cadet Corps, MC, including drumming. [51:02] Comments on parents’ expectations concerning behaviour/conduct. [55:10] Comments on parents’ political views. [56:16] Comments on paternal grandparents; maternal grandparents. [58:36] Story of meeting of parents. Mentions father’s first marriage; stepsister; older sister. [1:00:11] Comments on time spent with older sister. Story of admittance of self/sister to isolation hospital Worthing, late 1930s, due to Scarlet Fever. Mentions good relations with sister; sister’s education/career. [103:41] Comments on teaching of science, MC, including effect of wartime teacher shortage; teaching of physics, MC, including brief descriptions of experiments; teaching of mathematics, MC including mention of own high performance in elementary mathematics. [1:20:03] Comments on ability in French, dislike of Latin, MC. Detailed comments on of teaching of history, MC; teaching of music, MC. Mentions end to own piano lessons; continued practice in absence of lessons. Comments on reasons for enjoyment of listening to classical music. [1:18:26] Comments on own reading tastes as older child, including adventure stories of RM Ballantyne (including ‘The Coral Island’). Mentions ‘Black Beauty’; MC reading tests; other adventure stories; Dr Doolittle. [1:22:16] Comments on pastimes as older child, including cycling with friend, ice-skating, lack of interest in ball games; enjoyment of cross country running; running as young adult in ‘Harrier’ club and for UOC. [1:25:35] Comments on development of interest in geological evidence found at the coast; sea swimming as older child; playing of bridge with mother. [1:29:18] Stories of WW2 happenings, including sights/sounds of aerial dogfights, views of allied vehicles. Comments on mother’s interest in news of WW2. Story of playing school cricket, hearing sound of guns on the Somme, France. Comments on own reaction to WW2, including role of allied propaganda; mother’s sister’s experiences of WW2 in France. [1:40:27] Comments on subjects studied for HSC, WHS; first impressions of use of algebra to represent and solve physical problems (applied mathematics [AM]); development of interest in AM; preference for AM over pure mathematics. [1:45:35] Brief description of physical problems treated algebraically in HSC, including calculation of path of a bullet, steepness of incline required to overcome friction, use of differential equations to find maximum value of a variable. Detailed comments on reasons for liking AM, including precision of solutions; relations between mathematics and music. [1:54:26] Story of deciding in 1950 to read more ‘serious literature’. Comments on distinction between students of arts and sciences, HSC.

  • Description

    Life story interview with oceanographer Dr David Cartwright.

  • Related transcripts

    Dr David Cartwright interviewed by Dr Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

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

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