Bishopstoke: Wider Horizons by Cliff King MA (Manc), Dip Arch (Ports).


Cliff King grew up in Bishopstoke as a teenager and has chronicled the story of his life here in the village and beyond as he struggled with the exuberance of youth to find a path which led to higher education and a career as an architect. This story was written for his family as a testament of his life and reflects wonderfully the trials, tribulations, and obstacles of a young man growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although he and I grew up in Bishopstoke a few years apart, I can’t help but compare it to stumbling’s through my teenage years into adulthood. Despite the few years of age between us we share many memories of people, places, and experiences which we have in common. This story has brought back many enjoyable memories, and although we pursued different career paths, we share many parallels in how our lives developed.

This story is quite long, superbly written, highly illustrated, and a wonderful testament to hand down to his family. I highly commend you to read it.

Chris Humby MSc – Bishopstoke History Society – March 2024

Beyond Bishopstoke: Wider Horizons

REVOLUTIONARY SIXTIES by Cliff King MA (Manc), Dip Arch (Ports).

1960 to 1970


This is about my life in the decade from 1960 to 1970 – the “Swinging 60s”. Let me state at the start that the “swinging” part of the 60s largely passed me by as, I suspect it did to most young people in the provinces. There is a saying that “If you can remember the 60s you weren’t there” and when I read in retrospect stories of the money, drink, drug, and sex fuelled lifestyles of children of the wealthy, the fashionable, the ‘pop’ stars and the transiently famous in that period it seems to me as if they inhabited a totally different world to me. I was too busy working, studying, and trying to get by to even have the time to indulge in a liberated modern life-style- even if the opportunities had come my way, which they didn’t. The swinging 60s in-crowd, as depicted on the TV and in the newspapers, seemed to be mainly inhabited by a shifting crowd of thrill-seekers, minor celebrities, hangers-on, attention seekers and the gullible.

Sure, those of my generation had more opportunities, freedom, and fewer constraints than our parents or grand-parent’s generations ever knew and, for a decade or so there was the real – but sadly very short lived- prospect in Britain of both social mobility and society itself evolving into a true meritocracy.

The decade’s beginning saw me as a sixteen-year-old in my first job, and President John F Kennedy elected as President of the United States and at its end I was qualifying as an architect, America was starting to withdraw from the Vietnam War and the Russian space probe, Luna 16, landed on the moon to collect samples from its surface.

In between there was a fundamental reorientation of cultures and values throughout the world. Previously accepted conventions were questioned, social injustices were attacked, and radical new ideas were put forward for all aspects of society, ranging from flamboyant Mod and Hippie clothing fashions to visionary proposals for idealistic rural communes and walking cities.

During the decade the Vietnam War escalated, and the Cuban Missile crisis almost brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war. John F Kennedy and, later, his brother, Robert Kennedy, were both assassinated, as was the civil rights leader Martin Luther King. There were massive race and anti-war riots across America further fuelling the increasing sense of rebellion amongst young people, which had first started in the 1950s.

A growing mood of idealism amongst the young unleashed powerful expectations that society could be improved, and inequalities banished, and these ideas soon swept around the western world. This was further encouraged by the rising cult of personal individualism where many sought first and foremost to fulfil their own potential and seek their own happiness. Virtually every social institution and cultural assumption was challenged as this popular youth culture erupted like a volcano, turning every traditional assumption of dress, behaviour, sexual mores, music, art, and lifestyles upside down.

This new youth culture also challenged the paternalistic claims of professionals to possess special expertise beyond the comprehension of lay people. Professional judgements were often not just about facts but involved decisions about values that the young did not necessarily share. They thought that the ‘standards’ and ‘values’ adhered to by professionals and people in positions of power, such as doctors, architects, teachers, business leaders and government officials, were more to do with maintaining the status quo and power in their hands rather than for the benefit of society.

The result was a period of unprecedented social, political, and economic change in Britain. Many of the traditional values were swept aside in the firm belief that they were old-fashioned and irrelevant to the modern world and that a new way of doing things and different social order was evolving. The comment by the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1957 that ‘you have never had it so good’ came true for many of the young generation of the 60s. In retrospect this key phrase has often been recycled as “you have never been had so good” when it was shown that for all the superficial changes nothing really had changed; the same powerful vested interests still ran the country and were unwilling to either surrender or share power.

The period was primarily about an unprecedented phenomenon, the ‘Cult of the Young’, exemplified by the rise to prominence of the teenage voice and its opinions, and the increasing spending power of the teenage market. An opinion held by many teenagers was that if you had not ‘made it’ (got lots of money) and become ‘famous’ (seen on TV and your pictures in tabloid newspapers) by your mid-20s you were considered to be ‘washed up’. Anyone over 30 was considered to be ‘over the hill’. It was all about ‘yoof’; “Hope I die before I get old “- a line from a song by the pop group ‘The Who’ says it all.

The 60s also saw a dramatic rise in the ownership of private houses and cars and there was a boom in package holidays abroad. For the younger generation there were opportunities for both social and job mobility that had been unknown to their parents and grandparents. The 1960s have now become synonymous with all the new, exciting, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period,

There was a marked decline in many traditional British manufacturing industries where there had been little investment in research and development of new products, designs, production methods or technologies. The rise of Japanese imports, with their cutting-edge modern designs and efficient production methods soon sounded the death-knell of traditional UK industries such as motor bike manufacturing. This was paralleled by the increasing influence of America on everyday life in Britain. The rise of rock and roll music and rock idols led to the rapid demise of traditional big bands and crooners. The increasing availability of American music, TV shows and films soon had a dramatic impact on the speech, clothes, food, moral values, and lifestyles of the young that often left the older generation aghast.

From rise of the Mersey Sound and The Beatles, through to the student revolution of the late 1960s (particularly on the Continent) and the first man landing on the moon were all essential parts of this tumultuous decade.

My intention is to show how my ordinary life carried on amongst the social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s.

After starting work in 1959, aged sixteen, and a shaky start at studying part-time at Southampton College of Art in 1960 my life became increasingly focused on, and revolved around, architecture and getting a qualification. I became involved in student groups, travelled around Europe, nearly got killed in a motorbike accident, was awarded bronze and silver ballroom dancing medals, and started learning Judo. I moved to Oxford for a year, where I had a disastrous first experience of full-time architectural education, before returning to Bishopstoke and getting married. I moved north to Manchester for a year then came back south to Portsmouth, where I had a second and successful crack at full time architectural education; finally qualifying as an Architect in 1970.

In my writing I try to focus on making a story out the mundane, every-day things of life which today seem ordinary but in a hundred years’ time will possibly provide a window onto times past and illuminate the largely forgotten people who lived then. It is also, possibly, my attempt to make some historic sense out of the increasingly fractured world we live in.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), the American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher was spot-on when he wrote: “The problem with life is that no-one gets out of it alive. So don’t take it too seriously and enjoy it while you can” And William Morris (1834-1896), the British textile and furniture designer; poet, artist and writer said: “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” – I agree.

Summer Holiday.

In the summer of 1960 aged 17 years and three months and having been working for only seven months I had my first summer holiday. The problem was I had no money saved to actually go to stay anywhere and my mother, who was on National Assistance, certainly hadn’t. One evening, at the local Fireflies Boy’s Club in Eastleigh the subject came up with two of my friends who had both been in my class at school and had left the same time as I did.

My particular friend Brian May was from a railway family that had been employed in the Eastleigh Railway Works of British Rail for three generations. Brian, an only child, lived with his family in Dutton Lane, a row of Victorian terrace houses owned and rented to their workers by British Rail. Like his father, who worked in the shunting yards, Brian had joined British Rail but was employed as a trainee engineering draughtsman in the drawing office. He stayed there all his working life, even after British Rail was privatized, eventually rising to be senior draughtsman. He also married Janet Holding, one of the girls from our group during our schooldays; they later got divorced and he married again, but he still lives in the Eastleigh area.

Roger ‘Dodge’ (Don’t ask me – I don’t know!) Burlinson was also from an Eastleigh Railway family and also lived in a railway-owned rented terrace house. He had got a job as a trainee architectural draughtsman in Sawyers architect’s office, just across the other side of the road from Winchester Guildhall, where I had worked since November 1959 as an office boy / trainee draughtsman I had got my first job in the Architect’s Department. Dodge stayed with Sawyers as a draughtsman for some twenty years before moving to a design / build company near Winchester, where he stayed for the rest of his working life. He eventually married a girl from Scotland and in retirement still lives in Eastleigh.

The three of us were all in the same boat- eligible for our first holiday, but no money saved and no idea what to do. Then Brian came up with a brilliant suggestion: Why not spend it on a train? From working in the drawing office he had found out about weekly railway holiday run-about tickets that, between two given destinations, enabled the holder to travel up and down on that particular railway line as many times as he, or she, wanted to for five days between 10 am and 5 pm. Brian reckoned the cost of a ticket between Eastleigh and Bournemouth was affordable- I believe, as a British Rail employee he got his at a reduced rate. There were five stations between Eastleigh and Bournemouth; Southampton, Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst, New Milton and Christchurch and we could get on and off at any station en-route or go on to Bournemouth Station, which was less than half a mile walk from the beach. Most stations had a buffet, and we could always be sure of getting a mug of tea and a sandwich at one of them. The clincher was Brian’s reply when we asked what we would do if it was raining- “We take a pack of cards with us and spend the day in the dry, going up and down and playing cards!”

We enthusiastically agreed and that is what we did. Each morning, dressed in our coolest clothes- or what we believed was then the height of teenage holiday fashion- we met every morning at Eastleigh station at 10 am. I had brought myself a flame-red shirt and matching socks; the shirt worn open-necked with the collar standing up behind and the sleeves rolled half-up, teamed with my black tapered trousers or blue jeans and black shoes. The others were similarly attired, and we were the coolest of the cool- or so we thought.

We caught the first train available and, depending on the weather and what we felt like on the day, got off and on at the various stations down the line wherever and whenever we felt like it. Trains in those days were proper steam ones with proper carriages- by which I mean with corridors and separate compartments for up to eight people, each entered by a part-glazed wood sliding door, and a vertical sliding window you could actually open; let down with a leather strap. There was a toilet compartment at the end of some carriages and some of the trains even had a small buffet car where we could get packets of crisps and soft drinks.

The passenger seats were not the modern plastic ones but properly upholstered- although usually slightly worn- and some even with arm rests. Sure, the carriages were a little creaky and rattly; the compartments a little dingy and a tad dusty with woodwork often in need of re-varnishing but hey! – we were on holiday and fancy-free. Once in our chosen compartment, with the door closed and dealing out the cards for the first game of the day, we were grown-ups on our first holiday.

It was peak holiday season and during the five days shuttling up and down between Eastleigh and Bournemouth we met and got talking to many people of our own age, both male and female, not only on the trains and at the various stations we got off but also, most of all, while hanging out on Bournemouth Sea front. We were too cool to do anything like go in for a swim, so just hung about drinking Cokes and stuffing ourselves with sea-side fare from the stalls and small cafes or patrolling up and down the seafront on the look-out (unsuccessfully) for any female talent. Every day, on the journeys out and back we played cards. On the day it was either a bit wet or cold we spent the day shuttling up and down between Southampton and Bournemouth and never had a problem with getting a few more lads (and girls) to join in the card games.

1960 was a great year for pop songs with the top twenty charts including Frankie Lane “Rawhide”, the Everly Brothers “Cathy’s Clown”, Eddy Cochrane “Three Steps to Heaven”, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates “Shakin’ All Over”, Elvis Presley “A Mess of Blues”, The Shadows “Apache” and Jimmy Jones “Handyman” and “Good Timin”. The late 1959 R&B record “Handyman” by Jimmy Jones (died 2012) seemed to be blasting out everywhere; I liked it and bought the 45 record- which I still have. In every café we went into the Juke box would be going full blast and we, in turn, while sitting and drinking bottles of coca-colas (each one cost three pence (1.5p) and was drunk straight from the bottle- NEVER from a glass; which was totally uncool) added our choices to the musical scene and, at three plays for a shilling (5p), it was a bargain. By the end of the five days not only were we sunburnt but had had a first holiday to remember.

Camping at Sand Bay.

On the 9th of December 2020 my friend Bob Fowler sent me this photo of me, taken at Burton Bradstock, Dorset in the summer of 1963. At that time, I lived at 1, White Road, Bishopstoke and Bob lived at 7, Earls Close, Fair Oak Road. I was twenty years old, and we were on a week’s camping trip with his parents at Sand Bay, Bridport, Dorset. On the same campsite were a group of noisy but friendly Londoners, one of whom was a heavy-set cheerful bloke who, for now some unknown reason, but probably because he wore a very large, Mexican-style sombrero sunhat, I called ‘Pedro’. He liked it and adopted it as his nickname. We went all night fishing with them and ate fresh cod fish cooked over a campfire, the best I have ever tasted.

On the campsite was a girl I quite fancied. She was 17 or 18, with jet-black hair; was very good looking – and knew it. She had perfected the currently fashionable look of pouting lips with a disinterested and slightly bored expression; a disdainful thousand-yard stare – and had clearly studied the casual, strutting, rolling walk of a catwalk model. On every possible occasion she wore a tiny bright red bikini which accentuated both her sun-tan end excellent figure. Hoping to chat her up Bob accompanied me several times as we strolled, casually and by chance (!), past her tent or where she ostentatiously displayed her considerable charms sunbathing on the beach. Bob reckoned I hadn’t a chance and he was right. Another lost cause!

At the Campsite Social Club hop one evening we met up with two girls, one of whom came from Salisbury. Bob got friendly with one of the girls there and I was dancing the one from Salisbury and I told her that I came from near Eastleigh, only twenty-six miles from Salisbury. We got on very well and she said that they were leaving the next day, but she would like to see me again after our holiday.

A week or so after we got back home, I got on my trusty motorbike one Saturday morning and went to visit her. I cannot recall her name or the road and house number she lived in, but I recall the directions she gave me to find the housing estate she lived on. As you leave Salisbury on the Wilton Road, halfway along the road does a sharp left-hand turn and then right across a railway bridge. Just before the bridge there is a right hand turn onto Pembroke Road, which leads to a council estate where she lived. She answered the door and when I asked her if she would like to come on the motorbike for a trip to nearby Wilton for a coffee. She just said, “My boyfriend wouldn’t like it!” and shut the door in my face. Exit me with egg on my face!

My First Car.

On the 10th of April 1961, just after my 18th birthday, I bought my first car for £15, from a local man near where I lived in Bishopstoke. It was a 1937 Fiat 500; a two-tone, two-door convertible with a folding roof; the top half painted cream and the bottom half in Italian racing red. The engine was much worn, both the door cills had gone, the floor was rusted through, the hood was stained and torn, and seats had holes in them and the whole interior was a mess.

A fully restored 1937 Fiat 500 Topolino (unfortunately not mine which was a wreck!)

The Fiat 500 was first produced in 1936, so my 1937 model was one of the early ones and was a very stylish and innovative design for the time. It was a monocoque construction- which means the body was constructed all in one piece- so it did not need a chassis; had an aluminium cylinder head and wishbone suspension.

It was one of the smallest cars in the world, with a 569 cc 13 bhp four-cylinder side valve engine with a top speed of just over 50 mph. It was known as the Topolino in Italian which translates literally as “little mouse” but is also the Italian name for Mickey Mouse. There was only a tiny rear seat, with only enough space for what was called “a legless child”. It was not unknown for Italians to squeeze five people into this nominally 2-seater car as post-WW2 people must have been much smaller and thinner then!

In style and technology, it was light years ahead of the small traditional Austin’s and Fords produced and sold in England in1937, with their cast iron side-valve engines, cart spring suspension and bodywork built up of separate parts built onto a chassis.

Although it needed a lot of work on it, I fell in love with its shape and its stylish looks and so was prepared to put the hours in on it. The car was towed into our garage where over the next year I slowly took the inside apart, threw away all the things that were beyond repair and started to renovate what I could. I haunted scrap yards end army surplus stores getting cheap tools, pieces of equipment, brake fluid and engine oil. The car was at least 10th hand and was in a very poor state; rusty, door cills rusted away, holes in the bodywork and the floor pan rusted out. All the seat covers, and door panels were old, stained and torn and the folding canvas roof had holes in it and would not open properly and could only be closed with great difficulty- and as to keeping the rain out: forget it! The engine was also worn and ran poorly.

Although I was by then quite handy with tools and making things, I knew little or nothing about car engines. Fortunately, Mr Lloyd, the father of my friend Dave Lloyd from Hedge End, knew quite a lot about car engines. He came over to inspect the car and told me that the engine was worn. It really needed replacing with a reconditioned engine but, on my £5 a week wages, I could not afford that. He thought that if the oils were drained out and the engine inside cleaned up and the oils replaced that, with care, it would last me a while. Over the next year he came over on a few Saturdays and then showed me how to do all the basic maintenance work on the engine and brakes, change the spark plugs and battery and generally got it going after a fashion.

I spent the next six months learning how to make and install new door cills, metal flooring panels, and fill the holes with filler and the larger ones with mesh and fibreglass. With the help of my sister Diane, I recovered all the seats and side panels in a dark red oil cloth and put a new khaki folding roof on it. I made a new fascia panel out of a piece of light grey Formica with an aluminium edge trim, painted the inside gloss white and put carpet on top of the new galvanised sheet metal floor. As I knew nothing about car mechanics or electrics; had no contact with anyone who did and could not afford to take it to a garage- I was only earning £7 per week before deductions- I was unable to do much on that side of things. By July 1962 I had finished the restoration work, applied for my provisional car driving licence, put ‘L’ plates on the car and was ready to go and my friend Bob Fowler took the photos below his with his ‘new’ Halina 35mm camera.

With only a worn 500 cc engine it was very slow and could only reach 50mph on a long straight and flat stretch of road and on even the slightest hill slowed down to a crawl. It tended to suddenly break down and took a lot of patience to get it restarted again. As I was a learner driver, I could only take the car out on the few times that any of the few adults I knew that had a car licence were willing to waste their time sitting in the car with me. Both Mr Lloyd and Mr Fowler were both stoic heroes, sitting alongside me in the car and teaching me to drive as I slowly and nervously drove around the roads around our house before putting it back in the garage. I stayed around the Longmead Avenue area as the roads were flat and, if the car broke down and we could not restart it, we could easily push it back to the house. I dared not go down the hill to Bishopstoke Mill as if it broke down, I would have no way of getting it back up the hill and anyway had my doubts if it could get up the hill again with two people in it.

When it was going properly it was a delight to drive, with a comfortable driving position, precise steering, and good visibility all around, especially when the hood was down. With four people in the car its maximum speed was 30 mph and its little engine buzzed along like a sewing machine. With the sun shining and the hood folded down, all was right with the world. In retrospect probably I got more fun and knowledge in my self-taught efforts in ‘restoring’ the car than in actually driving it. I know that for weeks I spent every spare moment in the garage tinkering with it or making something to fit.

In 1963 I sold the car to Peter Ward, a draughtsman in his late 30’s, who worked in the same Architect’s office as me; Gutteridge and Gutteridge, 45 Westwood Road, Portswood. Peter liked Fiat 500’s and was only too pleased to buy mine, as he said he had the money, experience, and the contacts to put the car back into good shape. So, I sold to him for £30.

POSTSCRIPT. Two weeks after buying the car Peter was driving it near his house in Shirley and had stopped at the traffic lights in Shirley High Street. He usually drove an ex-army land rover, with a large engine and a very fierce clutch. When the traffic lights changed to green, he, as he admitted later forgot which car he was driving. He put his foot hard down on the accelerator until the engine screamed and then let the clutch out with a bang. It was too much for the worn-out engine. There was an explosion as the engine cracked in half, the fly wheel came loose and nearly came out through the car bonnet, oil and some petrol spread across the road and caught fire. The quick thinking of a shop owner with a fire extinguisher soon put the flames out, but the car was a write-off.

If today (2020) I ever wanted to buy a small-town car I would plump for the modern 2019 version of the Fiat 500, which still has style in spades!

My First- and last- Motorbike.

My friend Colin Bird lived with his younger brother Dennis- a whinging, whining creature- at the other end of White Road to our house in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, on the corner with Edward Avenue. His father was a retired navy Chief Petty Officer, who could not forget it, and did not adjust easily to civilian life. Colin was the same age as my older sister and, like her, left school in 1955 aged 15 and started work.

From the time we first knew him Colin was mad on motorcycles and had even got hold of a non-running old one to fiddle around with and used to freewheel on it down White Road. He loved to listen to commentaries on the radio and clips shown on the black and white TVs of various motor-cycle road races, particularly the annual Isle of Man TT races. He even bought a record that consisted entirely of the snarling, roaring sounds of racing motorbikes; the sound of gears being changed down and up with a commentators’ voice excitedly saying such things as “And here comes Geoff Duke going over Ballaugh Bridge at full throttle!” Colin would listen to this record for hours; even trying to imitate the sounds himself. He became an apprentice motorcycle mechanic in the Alec Bennett motorcycle workshops; a highly regarded specialist firm in Portswood, Southampton. By 1962 he had completed his apprenticeship and become a highly skilled mechanic. Colin was highly regarded as a mechanic and his dreams came true when the firm asked him to work on the racing machines the firm built, prepared, and tuned up for the annual Isle of Man TT races.

Colin had also married Jackie and they had moved into their first home, a two-bedroom first floor council flat at Bittern, across the River Test to the west of Portswood. They were soon expecting their first child and when it eventually arrived, I became its godfather. I was roped in to help Colin on some decorating work to their flat in preparation of the new arrival and I remember that when Colin and Jackie arrived back from the maternity hospital and lugged their son in a carrycot up the steep flight of outside stairs to the front door, I was still busily painting it!

From May 1962 I was working in an Architect’s office in Portswood, and my wages had gone up to £7 per week, so in 1963 when Colin Bird told me that a good motor bike, complete with racing fairing, had been traded in at Alec Bennett’s and could be got for a good price I did not hesitate. It was a blue BSA Bantam 175 two-stroke machine with a low mileage and in an immaculate condition I soon paid a deposit and signed up to an HP agreement for the rest over 2 years. As it was less than 200cc I could ride it on ‘L’ plates and so on Friday afternoon, directly after work, I walked down to Alec Bennett’s motorcycle shop in Portswood High Street and collected it. After a short lesson by the salesman on how to start, stop and change gear he gave me an old-model motorcycle helmet as a gift and he told me to take it very easy in the rain, then I was off in the evening rush hour traffic. It had been raining hard all day, the sky was overcast and grey and the roads were wet and slippery as I nervously made my way slowly through the traffic and thick spray. As I had never driven a motor bike before by the time I got home I was both wet with rainwater and sweat and trembling all over with tension.

However, after a cup of tea and evening meal I had soon recovered and was off into Eastleigh to show the bike to an old school friend, Gordon Brodie. His father was a police constable and they lived in a police house behind the main police station in Leigh Road. Gordon already had his motorcycle licence and told me that as a qualified person I could take him on the back for a ride. By now it was very dark and still raining and we started off and I cannot remember who suggested it but we ended up the sixteen miles to Fareham and back. It was quite nerve-wracking trip for me as for the first time I was riding a motor bike at night, in the pouring rain, on wet and greasy roads, with my headlights lights on and a passenger hanging on the back. However, with one or two wobbles and near misses, we eventually arrived safely back at his house in one piece at the end of a memorable first night ride on my motorbike.

For the next two and a half years my trusty motorbike took me all along the south of England, from Brighton to Weymouth, with passengers on the back including my mother, friends, and girlfriends until my nearly fatal crash on the Romsey bypass on Wednesday, 27th November 1965.

Fiat 500 and Fareham.

In 1961 I had bought my first car, a 1938 Fiat 500, probably about 10th hand or more. It was a lovely little car and, for its time, very innovative with its monocoque shell construction, wishbone suspension and aluminium head to the engine.

While learning to drive I had never driven anywhere further from Bishopstoke than 3 or 4 miles in the Fiat and so, a couple of years later. after I passed the driving test, I was keen to try a slightly longer trip. I did not feel confident enough to do it by myself so my friend and cycling companion John Collins, who had already passed his test and lived nearby, said he would come with me on a longer drive to get me used to it.

We agreed to drive to Fareham and back by the country roads to avoid major traffic routes as far as possible. The route to Fareham from where I lived in Bishopstoke, Hampshire was via Fair Oak, Horton Heath, Botley and Park Gate; a total distance of about 16 miles. I knew the route quite well because at the time I was going out with a girl who lived there called Marilyn Loveday and occasionally cycled to see her at weekends.

We set off late Saturday morning and got to Fareham without any problem and, after tootling about a bit in Fareham, headed on back in the early afternoon. As we were leaving Fareham on the main road to Southampton, just past the railway bridge next to Fareham station, the car engine suddenly spluttered and died on me. Despite much pulling on the starter, it would only fire up and run erratically and then stop. John and I got out and I lifted the bonnet to look at the engine to see if there was something obviously wrong. Like many people of my age a really knew very little about the mechanics of a car and just assumed that they would not go wrong! I fiddled with the engine for a few minutes, checking the connections, oil and petrol but could see nothing obviously wrong. Then John very surprisingly suddenly said to me that although he would like to stay and help me, he HAD to get back home very soon – then he turned round and crossed the road to the railway station to catch a train back to Eastleigh.

I was initially stuck with what to do next until I remembered that five minutes’ walk away was my girlfriend’s house, in the estate on the south side of the A27. I had not gone to visit Marilyn on this trip as she was the manageress of a sewing machine shop in Fratton and had to work on Saturdays. Her father was a recently retired police driver and, although rather taciturn and grumpy, was a good sort who seemed to love getting oil under his fingernails. His pride and joy was his Lancia saloon car, and all I can remember of it was that it had no side central door pillars; the front and rear doors opening like book covers, away from each other.

Fortunately, he was at home; got his tool kit and came back to the car with me. He soon diagnosed dirty plugs; took them out; cleaned them and started the engine on the first pull. I drove him back to his house and then, on my own, drove the very nerve-wracking 16 miles back to Bishopstoke.

My first and memorable solo drive.

I never discovered the urgent reason John had to get back home and that was the first and only time I was in a car with him – and things were never quite the same between us again.

Glad All Over.

In “Verse and Worse” by Arnold Silcock; published by Faber and Faber, the first two verses only are included under the title “The Irish Pig” by Anon, orally collected in Dublin. It was also first recorded as a song in 1934 by Frank Crumit and other versions by, amongst others, Harry Belafonte, and Acker Bilk in the 19550s and 60s.

I can remember my grandmother on Mum’s side (Marienne Ellen King, ne Caundle- died 1993) reciting the first two verses of to me years ago. I never knew there was more to it until now.” Until I came across this on Facebook

One evening in October

When I was about one-third sober

And was taking home a load with manly pride

My poor feet began to stutter

So I lay down in the gutter

And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Then we sang “It’s All Fair Weather”

And “Good Fellows Get Together”

Till a lady passing by was heard to say

She says “You can tell a man who boozes

By the company he chooses”

And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Yes, the pig got up and slowly walked away

Slowly walked away, slowly walked away

Yes, the pig got up and he turned and winked at me

As he slowly walked away

I also well remember

One evening in November

When I was creeping home at break of day

For in my exhilaration

I engaged in conversation

With a cab-horse, right on the corner of Broadway

I was filled up to the eyeballs

With a flock of gin and highballs

So I whispered to the cab-horse old and grey

I says, “It’s these all-night homeward marches

That gave us both our fallen arches.”

And the old horse laughed and slowly walked away

Yes, the old horse laughed and slowly walked away

Slowly walked away, he slowly walked away

And the old horse laughed and he turned and winked at me

As he slowly walked away

As he slowly walked away.

I can remember my mother occasionally reciting the three verses to me and, until now I had no idea there were other verses. It was in the early 1960s, when I was in my late teens, that my mother would recite the first three verses to me (perhaps as an awful warning?) when, usually on a Friday evening, I came home having been out with some friends for the evening and had a beer or two- or in my case, cider.

I lived in the village of Bishopstoke, two miles outside the town of Eastleigh, Hampshire. In the early 1960s Friday night was my evening out. I first went to a ballroom dancing class in Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, run by my friend Chris Braby’s parents, in the village hall on the Hursley Road, near the Chandler’s Ford railway station. By 1966 I had passed the bronze and silver medal exams but that Autumn I left home to go full time at Oxford School of Architecture, so my dancing days ended.

The one-hour dancing class finished at 8pm and afterwards Chris and I would go to a local pub to meet up with four other friends for a few beers before going on to Southampton for the rest of the evening. The local pubs we favoured were the Tabby Cat and the Mount Hotel but usually we went to the Railway Arms, just a couple of hundred yards along Hursley Road, opposite the railway station. The six of us would gather there, plus the usual Friday evening crowd of young people in their late teens or early 20s.

An attraction at the Railway was an attractive girl behind the bar of our age called Gladys. In 1964 a Group called The Dave Clark Five had their first No1 chart-topping record “Glad All Over” and we would always put it on the Juke Box. Each time it got to the chorus we, and the whole bar, would join in the chorus at the tops of our untuneful voices, while rhythmically stamping loudly on the floor, and banging our fists and tin trays on the wooden tabletops. The chorus was “And I’m Feelin’ GLAD all over, Yes I’m GLAD all over, Baby I’m GLAD all over, So GLAD you’re mine” – much to the poor girl’s embarrassment. We were so grown up, mature and sophisticated in those days. (Today, Friday 15th December Dave Clark, the group’s drummer, is 84!)

We would then all pile into two cars and head off to Southampton and the suburb of Basset, at the top of The Avenue, to a pub that hosted local groups. The pub had a rectangular room to one side, perhaps as big as an army hut, with a bar to one side of the entrance, a small, raised platform at the far end, a few small tables and chairs scattered along the side walls, with the middle reserved for dancing.

The music was provided mostly by local aspiring groups who played gigs on south Hampshire weekend pub circuit around Portsmouth, Winchester, Southampton, and Bournemouth but, now and again, bands from outside the area played a gig there. One of the groups who appeared a couple of times, possibly in 1961or 62, was a group called Manfred Mann, named after the leader who played the keyboards – and once we were lucky enough to be there. As was usual with the groups who played, after they finished their set would often join everybody at the bar for beers or two while chatting to their fans – mostly adoring young girls – before heading off back to wherever they came from. The Manfred Mann band was no exception and I recall them as a nice, friendly bunch of blokes. However, after they got a ‘hit’ record in about 1963 and became famous and the weekend pub circuit saw them no more.

Our simple aim was to have a few beers and chat up some girls (not always successfully) to dance with or, to be totally accurate, to gyrate with, on the jam-packed small dance area. One of the (many) chat-up lines was to spot a likely mini-skirted siren on the edge of the dance floor who was not dancing and then force a way through the crush to her side. On getting there you would tap her smartly on the shoe with your shoe to get her attention. Then, in the deafening roar of the music, you would lean forward and bellow into her (fragrant?) ear some immortal line such as “It’s your lucky day, kid you’re dancing with me!” Then grab her hand and try to lead her into the gyrating throng. Sadly, all too often, she would snatch her hand away and scream back “I am dancing with my friend!” Then turning her back would start to dance with some female companion that had obviously been chosen to counterpoint the looks of the siren. If you were successful, you then had to endure the glowering glares of the abandoned friend for the rest of the evening as you tried to engage your new friend in meaningful conversation; carried out by both parties at the top of their voices and mostly drowned out by the music. With the thundering music, flashing lights, a pint of lager in one hand and sweating mightily as we did our dance moves, we thought we were the utter essence of sophisticated 1960s urban cool.

You can imagine the poignancy of such occasions: a red-faced male, sweating profusely, shirt sticking to his back, balancing a glass of lager in one hand, and taking an occasional slurp while trying not to slop it on the girl as both parties gyrated erratically. She, smiling winningly (?) while her back-combed hair gradually went limp and subsided, her mascara sometimes ran and, while wiping her glowing face- girls NEVER sweated- would sometimes inadvertently smear some lipstick across a cheek. The dilemma then was: do you say anything, have her shriek and rush off to the ladies for repair work, and thus end a possible beautiful burgeoning relationship, or say nothing and carry on dancing with someone who looked increasingly like as if she had been pulled through a hedge backwards; with a facial mixture of mascara, damp face powder and lipstick? On one memorable occasion a girl’s false eyelash came adrift when she brushed her face and dangled like a demented spider, which did not help the overall effect.

The innocent pleasures of yesteryear! All rounded off when I arrived back home about 11pm when my mother, who always waited up for me, often quoted the first three verses from the Irish Pig – and I never knew it was part of a longer ‘poem’ until I received Caroline’s text.

In the early 1960s I had a motor bike and usually went to Chandlers Ford on it and then on to Southampton on it as the other lads, two of which had cars, all lived in Chandlers Ford, which was a couple of miles on the other side of Eastleigh to Bishopstoke. So, I could go directly home from Southampton rather than the others have to drive out of their way to drop me off. Drinking and driving was not such a problem as it is today (2020), and it was quite normal for people to drive having drunk five or six pints of beer (or more). Some friends I knew would drive when they were almost paralytic. However, I was always very careful how much I drank, as my capacity was- and still is- a maximum of two pints; and usually my drink of choice was Bulmer’s cider; but clearly this still worried my mother.

On the evening of Friday, 22nd November 1963 I and the rest of our group were standing around a bed in a hospital in Southampton. Chris Braby had been involved in a car accident. He was not hurt, just banged about a bit but was being kept in hospital for a day or two for observation. So, on our way to the pub in Bassett we had gone to the hospital to see how he was and were all standing around his bed when the news of President John F Kennedy’s assassination came over the radio. Our immediate thought was ‘Could this be anything to do with the Russians after the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and, if so, could this really trigger off a nuclear war?” We all went home. The next morning at the office – the firm I then worked for worked Saturday mornings in those days- it was the sole worrying topic of conversation in the drawing office and hardly any work got done. It was the start of a VERY tense few days: was it going to spark a nuclear war between the USA and Russia?

Addendum: Most provincial weekend evenings out in the 1960s usually finished between 10 and 10-30 pm, so usually people were home by about 11. Any later and you could miss the last bus and would have to walk home. I note that in the next generation, when my daughter Caroline was a teenager in the 1990s, she and her friends would not meet up to go out in Bristol before 9pm- usually to a pub first and then on to a nightclub for, as she used to say, ‘drinking, dancing and fighting’ (In jest- I hope!) and it was quite normal not get home until 2 or 3am. How times change.

Romsey Reckoning.

On Friday, 22nd October 1965 I returned from London on the train. From the previous Sunday I had been staying at the YMCA in Tottenham Court Road for one week while taking the Royal Institute of British Architect’s Intermediate examination at their headquarters in Portland Place. I had taken the opportunity while I was away to put my 175 cc, two-stroke BSA motorbike into the Alec Bennett motorcycle workshops in Portswood, Southampton, for a thorough overhaul and service as a week or two before I had all the paintwork redone to put it back into show room condition. I also got Alec Bennett’s to shave off the cylinder head to give a higher compression ratio to give it both a better acceleration and higher speed.

I collected the bike and the next Wednesday evening, the 27th of November, I went for a trip out to Ower in the New Forest to give my bike a run and to visit my friends, John, and Vicky Lovell on Paulton’s Estate farm, where he worked as a cowman. For some unknown reason I put my helmet on that night. It was not a legal requirement then and most motorcyclists did not bother. But that night it saved my life.

It was dark as I rode steadily down the A27 Romsey bye-pass, with the wall of Lord Mountbatten’s Broadlands Estate on my left, rounded the gentle left-hand bend at the end of the bye-pass and passed over the small hump-back bridge across the river. Just past the bridge, on my right, was a small pub, and the road continued straight ahead, now called the A3090, for one quarter of a mile before it started to climb steeply straight up the side of Pauncefoot Hill and on towards Ower and Cadnam.

One hundred yards beyond the bridge and pub there is a road junction on the right, where the A27 heads away towards Salisbury. There was a short outside lane on my side of the road which allowed cars who wanted to turn right to queue up and not impede traffic that was going straight ahead. I noticed a Renault Dauphine ahead in the right-hand lane which had stopped at the junction and was signalling right as I took the inside lane and prepared to pass it- and that is the last thing I remember before I regained consciousness in Southampton Hospital the next day.

What I had not seen in the dark was a car coming down Pauncefoot Hill towards me at high speed. It was an Austin Mini car which was being chased by a police car. It was thought that the car was doing about 100 mph at the bottom of the hill and in the poor light when it reached the junction on the curve the driver misjudged the road, touched the curb, and piled straight into the stationary Renault. The Renault instantly skewed sideways across my path, and I ran straight into its side. I catapulted through the raking windshield of my bike, which did my face and nose no good at all, before hitting the car passenger door with my head with enough force to split the metal. Meanwhile the mini car had spun over the top of the Renault, landed on its roof, and skidded off down the road, coming to rest at the side of the road just before the bridge. The driver climbed out of the wrecked car unscathed and ran off and, meanwhile, I finished up underneath the Renault, which by then had caught fire.

Luckily for me at the pub alongside where the crash happened there was a group of farm workers from the adjacent Mountbatten Estate drinking there that evening and, hearing an almighty crash, went outside to see what they could do. They saw my legs sticking out from under the burning car and they unhesitatingly grabbed hold of the back bumper, lifting it up off the ground just far enough for another of them to grab my legs and haul me out- and they undoubtedly saved my life. I was taken to a hospital in Southampton and apparently was unconscious until the next day. My mother at Bishopstoke was apparently informed by the police and Reg Howe, who owned and ran the shop and Post Office in nearby Longmead Avenue, kindly drove her into the hospital next morning, so she was at my bedside when I finally surfaced.

My body was banged, bruised, and knocked about a bit but fortunately, apart from my nose, nothing else was broken. Both my face and nose were very swollen with some facial cuts that needed stitching, having been sliced up a bit as I went head-first through the motorbike windshield. A consultant told me that it was fortunate that the car in front of me was a Renault Dauphine. This was a French-built, rear-engined car with a large luggage space in the front, where car engines usually were. He said that the Mini struck the luggage space in the front of the Renault which acted as a crumple zone and flipped the mini over the top of the car. If the Renault it had been a car with an engine in the front it would have been a very high-impact collision and the outcome for me could have been a lot different.

I was out of hospital by the weekend and had to recuperate at home for two (painful) weeks. The only bright spot was towards the end of the second week I heard from the RIBA that I had successfully passed their Intermediate examination and was now half-way to being a qualified architect.

The story did not end there for as soon as I was up and about, I contacted a firm of solicitors who had been recommended to me by a friend as specialising in injury and compensation claims. Their offices were at the southern end of The Avenue, Southampton and they agreed to take me on as a client. The firm’s solicitor who was assigned my case told me it would be one of the first cases under the new legislation about injury to third parties by uninsured drivers. As my motorbike had been totally written off, I could possibly get compensation not only for my injuries but also for my motorbike, which had been totally written off and had to be scrapped.

The convoluted background story that eventually emerged was that the police were chasing an escaped criminal who had, a few hours before, stolen a car from a gang of car thieves he had worked for in the past. The story still does not end there. The car thieves themselves had stolen that car a day or two before from a garage in the New Forest who, the day before it was stolen, had just sold it to a customer. You can only imagine the meal the lawyers made of that, with every insurance company denying liability and passing the buck from one to the other.

My compensation claim seemed to drag on and on and did not seem to be getting anywhere. In the following few years, I spent a year at Oxford School of Architecture, came back to Southampton, got married; moved north to Manchester for a year and then, in the autumn of 1968, moved back south to Portsmouth to study architecture at Portsmouth School of Architecture for two years. As a twenty-two-year-old in 1965 I was totally ignorant of the law and its processes, so just left it to my solicitor as they must know what they are doing.

By early 1969 I was fed up to the back teeth with my solicitors. All my letters asking about progress had either not been answered or I was just fobbed of with a standard ‘work in progress’ letter. My year tutor and friend, the Polish Architect Mr Joachim Hudek, advised me to seek the advice of another solicitor in Portsmouth, which I did. The new solicitor took my case, investigated, and the story got even more convoluted. Apparently, my previous solicitor had suddenly resigned from the firm and gone abroad, accompanied by a wealthy female client who had, in turn, left her husband. The partners in his practice had then found many of his cases he was handling were in a total mess and, in my case, had not even filed a provisional claim on my behalf back in 1965. The bad news was that now, in 1969, any claim that was lodged on my behalf would be struck out under the statute of limitations.

My new solicitor worked something out, and I suspect that both his fees and what was eventually coughed up for me was paid by the partners of the practice in Southampton. By the summer holidays of 1969 I was given enough money to cover the cost of remedial work to my face and nose at a hospital in Southampton but got nothing else. I lost everything – my bike, clothes and even my watch. The escaped convict was caught and given another two years in prison, but he was out before my case was concluded.

The tale of both my weird experience in hospital and my week’s holiday recuperating in a caravan on the Isle of Wight is a story for another day.

Suffice it to say I have not thrown my leg over a motorbike since then.

Bob and Pat Fowler’s Wedding. 9th July 1966.

I first met Bob Fowler in 1956, when I became a pupil at Toynbee Road Secondary Boys’ School in Eastleigh, Hampshire. At that time Bob, an only child, lived with his parents in a Victorian three-bedroom terrace house at No 44, Desborough Road; two houses in from the junction with Grantham Road and backing on to the local dairy. In the early 1960s they moved to a new three-bedroom house, No7, Earls Close, Fair Oak, and there Bob met Pat Masters, his future wife, who lived just two houses away in No3.

Bob’s father, ‘Chick’ Fowler, worked as a land surveyor for the ordnance survey office in Southampton and his mother was a housewife who also did part-time work in market research. I got on very well with both Bob and his family; over the years spent a lot of time in their house and I went on several holidays with them. and he was my best friend. With another school friend, the late John Collins, we were very keen cyclists and over the years the three of us cycled many miles together around Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset.

Their wedding was on Saturday, 9th July 1966 at the Anglican Church of St Mary’s on Church Road, Bishopstoke, Hampshire. It was designed by Edward Prioleau Warren (1856-1937), an architect and archaeologist, who was born in Cotham, Bristol; built during 1890/91 by Wheeler Bros. of Reading, Berkshire at a cost of £4,200 and was consecrated on 12th November 1891 by the Bishop of Guildford. Financial limitations meant that a Perpendicular tower included in the design had to be added later and this was completed in 1909. The church is only five minutes’ walk from where I lived with my mother at 1, White Road and so she and Margaret Nicholls, my then girlfriend and future first wife, did not have far to walk to the ceremony. I, having gone off to collect Bob from his house in Earls Close.

Bob Kindly sent me the following account of his wedding:

I don’t recall many details of the wedding day before the ceremony. I had bought a new suit from Burtons in Eastleigh about 4 weeks earlier with a very flashy Paisley style lining to the jacket. In those days it was made to measure, and you could choose the material from a cloth roll or swatch. It was a mid to dark grey woollen material of very high thread count, the sort of quality that you rarely see nowadays except in specialist bespoke tailors.

I was working in Oxford for the Southern Gas Board and had probably only arrived back to 7 Earls Close late on the Friday evening. Most of the wedding preparations had been made by Pat’s father Leslie Masters and his wife Winn. Pat and I had confirmed the availability of the St Mary’s church Bishopstoke with the Reverend Rose some weeks earlier and had been to see him previously for a little spiritual lecture and a practice run through. Rev Rose was a most gentle and charming vicar one could wish to meet.

Saturday morning in July 1966 was a glorious dry and sunny day which helped enormously in getting ready and making arrangements. I would have liked to have seen Pat, but I was barred from seeing her as it was the strict superstitious condition imposed by Pats parents. They had organised the Reception in the Bishopstoke Memorial Hall and employed the Caterers directly. They had arranged the taxis from the House to the Church and reception and then back to Earls Close. The photographer was Leslie Masters’ idea. David Clifford King was my best man, and he came to Earls Close to meet up with me before the ceremony.

My dad took Cliff and me to the church slightly early as is good practice, not wanting to be late and we sat in the front row waiting for all the visitors to arrive. Pat and her father were due to arrive last as is the tradition, but it was a long wait. Naturally it is the bride’s prerogative to turn up a little late as if to feign reluctance and while we were waiting, I remember chatting to Cliff very nervously to fill in the time. Cliff didn’t express any concerns and kept calm at all times, after all it wasn’t his wedding! For me it was a very awkward moment, worrying that Pat would not show up and as the time went on, I became more fidgety looking for something to occupy the time and I vividly remember showing Cliff the inside of my Jacket with the paisley lining to pass the time. I also had a new pair of shoes with a similar lining, so I slipped off one to show Cliff and he immediately sprang to life and urged me put the shoe back on, realising that it was not the done thing to take one’s shoes off at an English Wedding.

After about 20 mins or so the Reverend Rose walked out to the Church front door to check for signs of the bride’s car and he returned in a short while saying that the bride’s car had arrived. By this time, we had waited almost 30 mins. All was forgotten when Pat arrived at the Altar looking beautiful and radiant but quite nervous. It was only later I found out that Pat and her father had decided they needed to get some ‘Dutch Courage’ by having a couple of brandies before leaving and had misjudged the time.

The wedding service went ahead without a hitch and after the civil formalities had been conducted and the congregation was asked to sing a hymn, Pat and I were led to the altar and given a serious but kindly talk by the Rev about love and faith. I cannot remember the details, but it made a great impression on me. We then moved to the Vestry to sign the marriage Certificate which was witnessed by both our Parents. After this we had the traditional photos taken outside the church. To my surprise one of my work colleagues who was a keen photographer had driven down from Oxford to take our wedding photos. They turned out to be very good and used inventive angles. Sadly, he didn’t stay for the reception. The official photographer was an old friend of Leslie Masters, ‘old’ being the correct word. All his Official Photographs were very staged in what I can only imagine to be pre-war style, but they did the job.

Our lunchtime reception was held at the Memorial Hall at Riverside, which was half a mile down the hill from the church and on arrival we were offered a glass of Sherry before seating. I cannot remember if there was any alcohol with the meal, it wasn’t expected in 1966. My speech was unplanned and brief with all I can remember saying that I was pleased to see everybody and thanked them for coming. I do not remember if Cliff made a speech or not. (Note by me- Cliff King: I did!) The list of guests was decided by Leslie and Winn with a few allowances for the Fowler family. The numbers were strictly limited to keep the costs down. I wanted to invite John Collins, but I was told that the limit had been reached. I seem to remember that we had a ham salad for the wedding meal but cannot recall exactly. That wouldn’t be considered acceptable in 2020. After the reception Pat and I went back to Earls Close to change and after a chat with the guests drove off on our Honeymoon in our Ford Anglia stopping overnight in the Oxford Motel and then to Scotland. I remember the people in the Close all came out and cheered us on our way.

Recalling events 54 years on has been difficult, not least because the main participants, i.e. us were in some kind of whirlwind of emotions. Looking back, I realise we were very young and had no experience of weddings and therefore no real idea of what could have been done better or worse. My wedding was the first one I had been to. Sadly, Winn Masters died in 1998 and Leslie in 1999. Chick Fowler died in 1999 and Daisy Fowler in 2014.

Robert Samuel Fowler

23rd Dec 2020

Margaret was very stylishly and fashionably dressed in an outfit she had designed and made herself. If I correctly remember the decorations to her hat were done by her mother, Marion Nichols. They were both very good dressmakers and handy needle women.

For that weekend of the wedding, I had hired one of the fashionably new Mini cars and the following day, the Sunday, I drove Margaret to Oxford for the day to arrange accommodation for myself as in the autumn I was starting as a 4th year full-time architectural student at the then Oxford Polytechnic- now called Oxford Brookes University.

1960s Girlfriends

Girlfriends in the 1960s were thin on the ground and for the first five years only had three. I was so busy with work, night school, homework, cycle training schedule, judo training, work on the house and ballroom dancing lessons that I only had one night a week that was not committed. So, however much I might have liked a girlfriend they were not interested when they found I was only available one evening a week and the occasional afternoon at a weekend.

When I started at the College of Art at Southampton, I met David Lloyd. He was my age and worked in the City of Southampton Architects Department and, like me, was on a day release and evening class scheme to study to be an architect. He lived in Moorgreen Road, Hedge End and we hit it off straight away and got around together. David had passed his driving test and had an old Austen eight in which we used to go to the weekend youth club dances at places such as Hedge End, West End and Botley, and even the ice rink at Southampton-all noted pick up venues for girls.

For the usual local boys at a club there was no problem in picking up a girl for the evening as they were all well known to each other. A given local male would slouch across the dance floor to a local girl sitting on the side with her friend and, tapping her smartly on her shoe with his shoe to get her attention, and would use such memorable and subtle (?) chat up lines such as:

“It’s your lucky day, kid!”

To which she would reply “Why?”

“Because you are dancing with me!”

“Well, orlwrite, then!”

The local lad would then smirk mightily as he pulled her quickly to her feet and into the rocking and jiving melee of dancers.

However, for non-locals such as David and me we had to use different tactics, working as a pair. We knew that any youth club dance we went to the girls would be dancing together. Usually, one of them would be good looking and trendy and the other would be less so. When two girls were dancing together if one male tried to cut in to have a dance with the better looking one, she would usually sniff loudly, stick her nose in the air and say firmly “I am dancing with my friend!”

We realise we would have to approach girls as a pair or not at all. Each week we would take it in turns to choose which pair of dancing girls we would approach. The signal that a target had been selected was the key phrase, of “I don’t think much of yours, mate!” before advancing to split a pair up. The task of the one with the plainer friend was to keep her occupied long enough for the other to chat up her more attractive one and get to take her home or even agreement for a date without her friend another night.

My problem was that I usually went out with a girl if I found her interesting as a person, with things to say. Most of the sixteen-year-olds I came in contact with had no thought in their heads beyond the current teenage heartthrob, the next No 1 hit record or the currently fashionable shade of lip stick or eye liner. Their conversation was usually limited to such gems as “great”, “wow”, “yeah, man”, “reeely cool” or “groovy”. Often, but not always, I found the plainer friend more interesting, and we would often end up sitting at a table drinking bottles of coca cola and talking while David drove his current conquest home from the dance. Sooner or later, he would come back and pick me up, depending how lucky he was that night.

One winter weekend there were four of us out for the evening at a dance at a youth club, possibly at Hedge End. With us was a cousin of David ‘s who drove an old V8 Pilot. On this occasion David’s cousin was the only one to score and was trysted to drive this particular belle home after the dance. All four of us were going on to some late-night jazz club in Southampton afterwards so it was agreed that the cousin’s friend would come with us in the car, and we would follow his car while he took her home. We would stop and wait out of sight and afterwards he would pick up his mate and off we would all go.

However, the girl turned out to live in a pub way out in the country beyond Botley. It was a pitch-black night and, by the time we stopped in a layby, it must have been nearly eleven pm. We switched off the lights, but kept the engine running for warmth, and settled down to wait. It can only have been about 5 minutes later when we heard the scream of an engine coming towards us and round the corner came the V8 Pilot with its headlights blazing and passing us going like a bat out of hell.

David switched on his lights and was preparing to turn the car when there was the scream of another engine and a second car hurtled into view and, as it passed us, in our headlights we had a brief glimpse of a very large and obviously angry man driving and out of the two back windows were leaning to men, one waving what looked like a baseball bat and the other what David swears was a shotgun.

We heard later that just after the car pulled into the pub forecourt the passenger door was flung by her enraged father who pulled her from the car. With him were her two older brothers who tried to drag him from the car and beat him up. Luckily, he was able to stick the car in gear and drive off and they jumped into their car and chased him for several miles up the road.

It was several months before we had the nerve to go back to that particular dance hall again.

I probably had one or two one-night stands or short-term relationships but the only three I really remember are, Marilyn Loveday, Annick Seurat and Margaret Nicholls. The first I went out with over one year; the second for a summer and the third I ended up marrying.

Marilyn Loveday was eighteen and lived in Fareham, sixteen miles southeast of Southampton towards Portsmouth in a semi-detached house on a 1930s estate within walking distance of the railway station. Marilyn’s day job was as the manageress of a small sewing machine shop in Fratton, Portsmouth but she was also a part-time ‘model’, with ambitions to do it full-time. Her father had recently retired as a driver with the Fareham police and was a gruff, grumpy man who looked older than his years and whose only interest seemed to be his Lancia car.

I met her and her friend and near-neighbour ‘Bubbles’- I forget her actual name- at the Southampton ice rink one Saturday morning in 1963, which was a great place to meet up with girls. David Lloyd and I were no great shakes at ice skating, but we could get round without falling over and, as there were many pairs of screaming girls staggering around helplessly together, there was plenty of scope for coming to their aid. On this particular occasion it was my turn to choose which pair to split up and so I met Marilyn Loveday, and we got on well and ended up going around together for about a year.

She was a tall, statuesque girl with a face tending to roundness and short, curly dark hair. She always took immense time and care in making sure her make-up was immaculate and when we went anywhere always wore very smartly tailored two-piece outfits and high heels. I used to go to see her one evening during the week and once or twice a month at weekends. In the week I would cycle the seven miles back home to Bishopstoke from where I worked in Winchester, grab a quick bite to eat then cycle the couple of miles into Eastleigh and leave my bike at the home of my friend Bob Fowler. He and his parents lived in a Victorian terrace house, backing on to the local milk delivery depot, and near the corner of Factory Road and Desborough Road. I would then walk the few hundred yards to Eastleigh Railway station and catch a local train to Fareham. Marilyn and I would either go on into Fareham or hang about the house until I left to catch the 10pm train back to Eastleigh and I would be home by about 11-30. Sometimes Marilyn would come up to Bishopstoke on a Saturday morning and stay the night at our house, so we could go out to the pictures in Eastleigh.

At one time we were in the back room listening to 45 rpm records (known just as ‘45s’) on my record player. We were getting quite friendly but, unknown to us, my sister Diane had quietly crept up to the closed door with her camera then suddenly burst in and quickly took two photos of us- which she thought was quite hilarious.

I remember in 1964 once went to London with Marilyn for the day. A Leonardo da Vinci cartoon was on display at a London Museum- I think it was at the National Gallery- and we went to see it. We stood in the hushed, almost reverential atmosphere of the group looking at the cartoon. After a longish pause Marilyn turned to me and whispered loudly “I don’t think it is funny, what’s the joke?” The whole place seemed to get even quieter.

Another time we did a day coach trip to Berkley Castle in Gloucestershire and, as usual, she was immaculately turned out. She was wearing a brilliant white Grecian-style pleated dress that came to just above her knees, that was sleeveless and had a scoop neckline, and matching high-heeled shoes. When we got there, I found that she was really only just interested in having me take photos of her in various poses around the castle and grounds. She had decided to update her modelling CV and though that photos with a backdrop of the castle would be just the job. So, I duly complied as she draped herself against stone walls, columns, textured tree trunks, flowering shrubs, and various other decorative background features.

Our relationship eventually foundered on the fact I was, in her estimation, spending too little time with her. By that time, we had been going around together for nearly a year and the occasional row and sulks became more frequent and confrontational. It was coming up to her birthday and, as a surprise, I had bought her a crystal necklace, similar to one she had admired several times in a local jeweller’s shop window, which had cost me nearly my weeks gross wage of £7. I gave it to her on the evening of my visit. We were in the back room; her parents were in the front ‘best’ room, watching a TV programme. Marilyn started to have a go at me because I could not come down again during the week to be there on the actual evening of her birthday; although I had already explained it was a night-school evening at Southampton, which I could not possibly skip as I was studying hard for exams. Eventually I had had enough and told her that we were through, stood up, told her she didn’t deserve the necklace, took it back and walked out of the room. I went into the front room, told her parents- who must have heard the row- that Marilyn and I were finished. I thanked them for their hospitality and left. I never saw any of them again.

In September I gave the necklace to my sister for her birthday. I told her how she had come by it, but she just laughed and said she didn’t care, Ever the realist, Diane.

Marilyn had an older sister Vicky who was married to a farm worker and cowman on the Paulton’s Estate at Ower, near Romsey. She and her husband John Lovell, lived with their two, later three, young children in an estate cottage fronting onto Romsey Road, just beyond and on the other side of the road to the main access to the farmyard. Blonde-haired Vicky was possibly in her late 20s of medium height, plump, outgoing, and cheerful; John some ten years older, was taller, lean, taciturn and with a wry sense of humour. He had grown up in a farming family but was unable to buy or rent a farm so had to work for others. He was a kind man, and we became friends and for several years after I had stopped going out with Marilyn I used to visit them regularly of an evening and stay to supper.

One of my many enjoyable memories of my visits there is of John getting me to help him several times when a cow was calving. He would stick his hand up the cows inside and attach a rope to the front legs of the calf. He would get me to hold the rope and, on his command, gently apply pressure to the rope while he had one or both hands inside the cow helping the calf out.

One evening in the autumn of 1965 I was on the way to see them on my motorbike. It was a week after I had returned London, where I had spent a week taking my Architect’s Intermediate exam as an external student at the RIBA headquarters in Portland Place. As usual I went via Romsey and at the bottom of the hill on the Romsey bypass, by Earl Mountbatten’s family home the Broadlands estate, I was hit and nearly killed by an escaping criminal in a car that was being pursued at high speed by the police. But that is a whole separate story.

When I got married in Lyndhurst Parish Church in the summer of 1967, I asked John to be my best man. My new wife and I set off for Manchester, and our first night of our honeymoon in a Midlands Hotel, from their house where I had previously left my car with our things in it, – but that again is a whole separate story.

Annick Seurat was a French girl, from Paris. She was eighteen and was one of a party of exchange students with a local school in Eastleigh in 1965 during the summer holidays.

They were here to improve their English and were keen, so the local school said, to live with ordinary families to learn about the English way of life. The school put out a request for locals to house and feed them for six weeks, introduce them to the local community and take them around a bit- and my mother agreed to have one. My sister had left home by then we were expecting to be allocated a boy, but we were allocated this girl. Annick was small, petite, pretty, dark haired with an olive complexion and was always neatly turned out. Annick spoke English with a French accent and she reminded me somewhat of the actress Audrey Hepburn. To the amazement of both me and my friends (and some snide comments by the girls about ‘being above herself’) she always wore a touch of subtle perfume every day, not just when going out on the town in the evening.

She told me that she was a great- great-grand daughter of the artist Seurat, who I had never heard of, but looked him up later: Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859 –1891) was a French post-Impressionist artist. He is best known for devising the painting techniques known as chromoluminarism as well as pointillism. His large-scale work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–1886) altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism and is one of the icons of late 19th-century painting.

During the week the group of French students had a series of day trips and visits arranged but, in the evenings, and weekends I took her around with my friends to various local places such as our local youth club, the local open-air swimming pool, the cinemas and cafes in Eastleigh, and trips by bus to Winchester and Southampton.

She had left school that summer and was going to a University in France that autumn. It certainly did my local image no harm to be seen squiring around a pretty French girl. She said she had very little money to spend, so had to be very careful and so, as I was working, I usually paid for most of the modest things we did; a few shillings here, a few shillings there. Not great sums of money but, as I was only earning £7 per week before deductions it was quite significant.

At the end of her stay she, and the rest of the French students in Eastleigh, had to make their way in the afternoon to London to meet up with various other student groups from around the country at the main station before going back to France. She and I decided to go up to London on the early morning train- you could get cheap day returns in those days- see the sights, visit St Paul’s Cathedral and some museums before meeting the other groups.

We did this and when it came time to say goodbye, she thanked me most effusively and then opened her handbag as she said she had a small gift for me. She handed me a small parcel and in doing so she fumbled a bit and her handbag tipped over and some things spilled onto the platform. I bent down and picked them up- and found one of them was a solid roll of English £10 bank notes about an inch and a half thick, held together with a stout rubber band. I handed it to her. I looked at her. She looked at me, gave a faint smile and, quickly turning on her heel, disappeared into the crowd of students. I never saw or heard from her again.

Margaret Francis Nicholls was the only daughter of Marion and Nick Nicholls, who lived in Manor Close, Totton, Southampton. He was a chemist and had his shop on the main street of the nearby Lyndhurst, the unofficial capital of the New Forest. Margaret was studying architecture at Manchester University, and I met her in the summer of 1964, at the end of her first year there, when she came to get work experience for the summer at the architectural practice where I worked at the time as a draughtsman. It was the firm of Gutteridge and Gutteridge at 45, Westwood Road, Portswood, Southampton, a well-established and well-regarded small local practice that did work for Southampton University, the local Territorial Army, the local authority, churches house builders and private clients.

Margaret, or Maggie as she was known as, and I hit it off from the word go. She was pretty, bright, clever, a good conversationalist and I soon learnt she had been to at Totton Grammar School where she had achieved 10 ‘O’ levels and 4 ‘A’ levels- which was quite an achievement in those days. With our mutual interest in architecture, we were soon zooming around together on my motorbike visiting places and buildings of interest.

Maggie is one of those people who are both artistic and multi-talented and can, with very little instruction or practice, turn their hands to anything, from baking bread, cooking and cake making, to dressmaking, embroidery, sewing, spinning, and weaving and always produce excellent results. A few years later I learnt that her Professor at Manchester School of Architecture thought so highly of her abilities and potential that he thought she would be the first female architectural student for many years to get a first-class degree.

We were married on the 23rd of September 1967 at Lyndhurst in the New Forest. After we were married in the summer of 1967 we went to live in Manchester for a year, where I could work while she completed her third-year studies at the University. A full-time architectural course takes seven years to complete, with the fourth year taken as a year out working in an architectural office to get practical experience- and in the autumn of 1968 I was due to start my 5th year studies as a full-time student at Portsmouth School of Architecture.

Left to Right: Joachim Hudek, Mervyn Gulliver, John Elderfield,

Rod Smith, Michael Downer, and Uncle of Margaret’s (name forgotten).

Addendum. I divorced Margaret in the summer of 1974.

Cycling in the 1950’s, 60’s and beyond.

Aged 14 in 1957 I bought my first bicycle on hire purchase for £20, which I paid off in a year through the £1 per week I earned for various paper rounds. It was a BSA Tour of Britain sports bike, with twin chain rings at the front (known as ‘a double clanger) and a six-speed rear block, giving me twelve gears in all. At the time I was living with my mother and sister in the village of Bishopstoke near the town of Eastleigh and the City of Southampton, Hampshire. For the next twelve years the bike became my liberating trusty steed until it was stolen in Manchester in the summer of 1969. Until I left school at 16 and for a few years afterwards either on my own or with two school friends, John Collins, and Bob Fowler, I ranged far and wide from home and was regularly cycling between 150 and 200 miles a week.

School did not start until 9am, and my morning paper round took an hour, so in the spring and summer, and especially in school holidays, at least twice a week I used to be out on the road by 6am on my 23 mile training circuit before doing my paper round, then back home for breakfast at 8-30 and then cycling into Eastleigh to school by 9am. School finished by 4-15 and my evening paper round took an hour, so I was usually home by 6pm for my evening cooked meal. In the summer I would then go out on my bike for an hour before coming home and settling down to homework. All the local working-class people finished work at 5pm, when the local railway works siren went, and were home to have their evening cooked meal no later than 6pm, before going out to the local working men’s club for the evening or, in the summer, to their allotments.

From the 16th of November 1959, when I started work at Winchester, just cycling to work, to day school and two evenings at night school in Southampton and one evening to my Judo club in Winchester I was doing 112 miles a week. During holidays from day and night school I would go out in the evenings several times a week on my 23-mile training circuit. So, I was probably riding about 10,000 miles a year, the same annual mileage that I do now (2019) in my car. (Note: I still have the silver-grey jumper I am wearing in the photo. It was knitted for me by my late mother in 1958; not being a knitter it was the only one she ever made for me).

At weekends, either alone or with friends John and Bob, I just took off for 50-to-70-mile round day trips. I usually wore khaki shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, with tools and puncture repair outfit rolled into a cycling cape and strapped to my saddle stem (only sissy’s took sou’westers along as well), plus a water bottle on the front handlebars, a couple of cheese sandwiches for fuel and one shilling (5p) in my pocket for a chocolate Mars Bar. In those days working class homes did not have telephones; only a public call box within half a mile and our parents could not afford cars, so could not come, and get us from anywhere. It was just assumed that we would not get into difficulties or, if we did, we would either sort it out ourselves or an adult somewhere would come to the rescue.

We did some adventurous rides for teenagers, both while we were at school and for a few years afterwards. In particular I recall the three of us did the 130-mile round trip from Bishopstoke to the City of Bath and back in a day. Another time John and I attempted to do the 140-round trip to the City of Oxford and back in a morning. We set off at 6 am and our goal was to get back by 1pm. Just after 1-30 pm we were back in Winchester, only 8 miles from home. We were both knackered, and I was totally bonked out and stopped but John went on and got home by 2pm and I arrived half an hour later.

I used to go off some weekends and cycle the 68 miles to my great aunt’s cottage in the village of Abbotsbury in Dorset, and cycle back on the Sunday.

In the summer of 1959 one of the hottest on record, just after leaving school aged 16, I went on a solo trip to the west country; first to Abbotsbury and the next morning another 30 miles on to Beer in Devon, then back to Abbotsbury for the night then back home the next day 192 miles in three days. On the way back from Beer to Abbotsbury the section along the B317 coast road from Bridport to Abbotsbury was particularly hard. It was a boiling hot afternoon; the road is completely exposed, and I was sunburnt. I ran out of water well before I got to the village of Swyre and just beyond, only a few miles short of Abbotsbury, I was really struggling until I spotted a water trough in an adjacent field. Hopping over the fence I ducked my head in the trough, had a long drink, refilled my water bottle, and carried on.

I also had a training circuit of about 23 miles. Starting from my house at Bishopstoke I went via Stoke Common, cross country to Twyford, then to the junction with what was then the Winchester by-pass (now the M3), turned right along it to Bar End, left into Bar End Road leading into the square at Winchester, past the council offices on the left (where I worked) and up the main street (now pedestrianised) towards the County Council offices, left at the traffic lights into St Cross Road to St Cross, Compton, Otterbourne (and the challenging Otterbourne Hill) to Chandler’s Ford, left at the junction with Leigh Road and down the hill to Eastleigh and back to Bishopstoke. The circuit used to take me about one and a quarter hours, and I must have cycled it hundreds of times over the years. Once, when I had been studying late at night, although it was nearly midnight, I felt I needed some exercise. So, I got my bike out, put on the lights and did the circuit. The roads were deserted and when I got to Winchester there was no-one about- so I went through every traffic light on the red!

The following picture is of Bob Fowler in 1959 or 60 doing a 25-mile time trial, probably in the New Forest, Hampshire, on his stripped-down fixed gear ROTRAX bicycle.

I was not a sprinter, and 25-mile time trials did not attract me. Long distances were more my forte, as I had the ability to just keep going at a steady pace. At that time the best riders on 25-mile time trials were about the hour mark, but the best I ever managed (once) was 1hr 6 minutes. Usually, I was about 1-10 at best and 1-15 at worst. Nowadays the best riders do it in less than 50 minutes and the record (8th May 2018) stands at 42 minutes 58 seconds at an average speed of 34 mph.

Crabwood CC team: Bob Fowler (rear), name unknown (middle) and John Collins (front) in the 1960 Antelope 38.5 team time trial somewhere north of Lyndhurst. Bob said he was really struggling on this ride and couldn’t keep up and consequently slowed the team. Bob was 16 years old, and John was 17. John was by far the best and most dedicated racing cyclist of the three of us and he sadly died in the early 1990’s in his early 50’s’s from stomach cancer.

Another time John, Bob and I had been cycling in the New Forest and we were coming back along the long, straight road from Lyndhurst to Totton, heading towards Southampton. To keep the pace up we each took turns on the front for about five minutes each. At one point a car which had been following us for some time came up alongside us and the passenger wound down the window and shouted out to us “Do you realise you are doing 38 miles an hour?” And this on bikes which were not even state of the art at the time (we couldn’t afford them) and would be regarded as real clunkers today compared with modern lightweight machines. Great memories of riding through hot sunshine, pouring rain, sleet, storms, fog and even snow and ice. We just did it.

My trusty steed: BSA Tour of Britain Sports bike- rebuilt and resprayed white with dark blue contrast bands in August 1966- stolen in Manchester in the summer of 1969.

In the autumn of 1969, I replaced my stolen bike with a road bike slightly better than the BSA, which I still have today (2019) Holdsworth in Reynolds 531 tubing (See photos below). At that time, I was a student at Portsmouth Polytechnic, and I ordered the bike with the help of the owner of a bicycle shop in north Portsmouth, and I think it cost me under £100. As a link with cycling history: that man was one of the British Olympic Cycling team who rode in the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. I don’t remember his name but on the walls of his shop were faded black and white photos of him and the team in Los Angeles and a wall cabinet displaying medals and memorabilia.

In 2019 I looked up the 1932 Olympics on the internet. Britain sent a seven-man team: Frank Southall, Charles Holland, Stanley Butler, William Harvell, Ernest Chambers, Stanley Chambers and Ernest Johnson. Earnest Johnson was the youngest at 19 years, 258 days: the oldest Frank Southall at 28 years 34 days. They competed in six events: The Men’s Individual Road Race; Team Road Race; Sprint, 1,000 metres Time Trial, 2,000 meters Tandem Sprint and the 4,000 metres Team Pursuit. They got a silver medal in the tandem sprint and a bronze in the team pursuit.

The track events were the 1,000 metres time trial, match sprint, tandem match sprint, and the team pursuit. The track events were held on a wooden track built within the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and with its capacity of over 75,000 it was mostly empty during the track competition, as attendance was sparse. The road events were an individual time trial and a team event based on the individual times. The only difference in the team road race was that it had been previously based on the best three times of four riders, but in 1932, each team had only three riders and all three times had to count. Thus, all riders had to finish the race. This would be the last time until 1996 that an individual time trial road event would be conducted at the Olympics.

After Christine and I were married in 1975, because of increasing work and family commitments, my cycling was very much restricted to infrequent casual, short rides of no more than 20 miles around the Bristol area. The roads in the city were, as they are now, so badly maintained and potholed that I had to be 10 miles out of the city before there was no possibility of buckled wheels or punctures, let alone the ever present danger from the constant stream of traffic who seemed to enjoy speeding pass cyclists, often with only inches between them and me.

In the late 1980’s I did some easy rides with both Caroline and Jamie and, with each of them separately, I did that round 30-mile trip to the City of Bath and back on the cycle track. On the trackway of an abandoned railway line, it is very easy, pleasant and traffic free route through lovely countryside, from the centre of Bristol to the centre of Bath.

Another trip Caroline and I did was a 35-mile round trip in the Wylye Valley, between Warminster and Wilton. I drove us to Borham, on the outskirts of Warminster, parked up and unloaded the bikes. We then cycled along the B3414, onto the A35 main road which runs southeast along the east side of the trout-fishing River Wylye to Wilton, where we stopped at a café in the square for a rest and some fuel. We cycled back on narrow country road on the southwest side of the river through all the pretty ‘chalk’ villages such as Great Wishford, Little Langford, Hanging Langford, Wylye, Bapton, Stockton and Sutton Veny to Borham.

On leaving Wilton we had a memorable experience. A mile or two out of Wilton on the Wishford Road it bears to the right and crosses the Southampton to Bristol railway line on a hump-backed bridge. Bearing left it then parallels the railway line on the left for about half a mile, with open fields and the river to the right, before turning sharp left and then right through a bridge under the railway. As we rode along this stretch of road, we could see a tractor coming towards us pulling something along the edge of the field nearest to us. As we approached each other we suddenly realised that it was spraying a brown liquid slurry on the field, and it was drifting across the road like a shower of brown rain. There was nowhere to go to get out of the way so we just peddled as hard as we could and dashed through the foul-smelling deluge. I think that put Caroline off cycling for ever.

My last attempt at riding long distance was in 1990 aged 47. We were going to visit my mother who lived 82 miles away in an old people’s home in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Although I had not had much time on my bike I decided, for old time’s sake, to have a crack at cycling there and so set off several hours before the family followed on in the car. My chosen route was along the A4 to Bath, past Keynsham and Saltford, before turning off left at the roundabout by the Globe Inn at Corston onto a minor road, up a steep hill past Newton St Loe, skirting around the west side of bath to Odd Down, then turning left onto the B3110 Midford Road, through the villages of Midford, Hinton Charterhouse, Norton St Philip and at Woolverton turning right onto the A36 to Warminster. From Warminster my route was down the Wylye valley to Wilton and Salisbury and a few miles beyond it, past Pepperbox Hill, turning left onto the A27 to Whiteparish, Romsey and North Baddesley where I could turn left into Castle Lane, leading to Chandlers Ford; the top of Leigh Road and finally down the hill into Eastleigh. After 60 miles and 4.5 hours of steady cycling I finally reached and struggled slowly up Pepperbox Hill, several miles beyond Salisbury. My legs had gone, and I had had enough, so I waited on the top of the hill until Christine arrived in the car with Caroline and Jamie and collected me and my bike.

In the 1990s, in my early 50’s I was diagnosed with Ménières, a severe, progressive, and incurable affliction of the inner ear that will eventually make me deaf and makes me liable to sudden and unpredictable bouts of vertigo. I could no longer ride on the public highways so the only cycling I did from then on was either on a static bike at the gymnasium or on my Holdsworth, mounted on a turbo trainer in my basement of my home in Clifton, Bristol. With its ten gears, quick release hubs, leather Brooks saddle and lightweight aluminium wheels with road tyres and inner tubes I have ridden countless thousands of miles on this bike in the last 50 years- and it never let me down.

Addendum: 10am, Thursday, 21st November 2019. I took my bike and turbo trainer to the Bristol Bicycle Project at 7, City Road, Bristol, BS1 3QY. It is a member-led co-operative repairing and rehoming bicycles within the community. Their aim is to help people from all walks of life get out on two wheels and they renovate and repair second hand bikes. Donated bikes are refurbished and either given away as part of their Earn-a-Bike programmes or sold to raise much needed funds for their community workshops. If they can’t salvage a bicycle, they strip them for any usable parts which will then be used on other bikes. Any worn out, damaged or otherwise unusable parts will be passed on to one of their partner organisations for reuse, upcycling, or recycling.

They run courses on maintaining and repairing bikes plus a unique “Earn-a-bike” system. An unemployed person or a refugee who cannot afford a bike, even a second hand one, but would benefit from owning one, is given the opportunity to get one for free. They work with one of their mechanics for up to three hours to refurbish a donated bike, learning basic mechanical skills in the process. The bicycle is then theirs to ride away! Once they have a bicycle, they can keep it running smoothly at one of their drop-in Fix-a-Bike workshops where volunteers can help them with repairs, free of charge. So, an excellent place to pass on my bike of the last 50 years. A last thought: This is the first time for 62 years that I have been without a bike……

Winchester 1959 – 1962

Winchester- The Office

I started work as an office boy/ trainee draughtsman in the City of Winchester’s Architects department at the age of 16 on Monday, 16th November 1959, with a starting salary of £5 per week before deductions, for a 5-day, 35-hour week. The Department was located right at the top of Winchester Guildhall, beneath the mansard roof, and was presided over by the Assistant City Architect Mr C.C.C. Steptoe. At the ground floor, to the right of the main entrance steps and accessible directly from the street, was the City Treasurer’s Department and to the left was a police station. The grand stone dog-leg entrance staircase from the street staircase, under the imposing clock tower, led up to the first floor and a set of glazed entrance doors recessed back behind the three gothic arches. Inside was a transverse rather gloomy passage with gothic arches running the length of central part of the building. On this level, at the left-hand end, were the grand offices of the Cities dignitaries- the Mayor, the Town Clerk, the City Engineer, Mr Perkis, and his deputy, while the right hand contained civic offices and beyond that was a large, double height hall, used for civic gatherings and occasions. Directly opposite the entrance doors, across the transverse corridor, a stone stair, on a much smaller scale, dog legged up to the first floor and another narrower transverse corridor with a plain ceiling.

The left-hand side of the building was occupied by the City Engineer’s Department, who dealt with roads and drainage, and had a staff of perhaps ten and the other end had more offices- possibly the planning department, although I can’t quite remember. Again, on the other side of the transverse corridor, the stair continued up, but this time as a narrow, steep wooden stair, doglegging right and then back on itself leading up to a tiny landing under the mansard roof. Immediately to the right a door led into the print room, a space perhaps ten foot by twelve foot. It was crowded with a wooden print table, the large printing machine with the timing clock above it and the ammonia developing box fixed to the yellow painted matchboard wall. Some daylight filtered through a small gothic style dormer window but when working in there I always had to have the light on and, because of the pungent smell of the ammonia print developer, with the window wide open.

Straight ahead from the top of the stair was a part glazed door leading into small grey painted match boarded room, perhaps fourteen feet by twelve feet, split into two by a counter built across the room, which was the enquiries office for the Architect’s Department. Behind the enquiries counter, accessed by a lift-up portion of the counter, was a narrow space bounded by a half-glazed partition across the width of the room. Behind the counter, at the left-hand end, was a door leading to the drawing office and a door in the right-hand end of the partition lad to a small office, perhaps fourteen feet by twelve feet; the personal domain of the Assistant City Architect, Mr C.C.C. ‘Charlie’ Steptoe.

The architectural drawing office was the full width of the mansard roof, possibly twenty feet wide and was about twenty feet long. It was separated by a partition from another room beyond, which was about the same size that was used for storing archives. They both had a series of high-level windows along the length of the office in the slope of the mansard roof that overlooked the Broadway below but was partially concealed behind the parapet.

There was a waist high drafting table built along the wall under the windows overlooking the Broadway at which we sat on high stools at our double elephant sized drawing boards. Down the centre of the room was another drafting table, with enough space for three draughtsmen, on which sat the black Bakelite rotary dial office telephone, and on the other side of the room was shelving and the office library.

In the back left hand corner was a space, perhaps four feet by four feet, with a shoulder height small south-facing gothic-style dormer window with a window cill. It was in this space that the office kettle, mugs, tea, and coffee things were kept on a low table. The gloomy interior of the main office was lit by fluorescent tubes hanging from the trussed ceiling and we had angle poise lamps at each drawing board. There was ample space for six draughtsmen but there were only two of us and this was to be my ‘home’ for the next two and a half years.

Winchester Guildhall is on the site of an estate granted by Alfred the Great to his wife Ealswith probably as a coronation gift in AD 871. After his death she retired there and founded a nunnery known as Nunnaminster. Known in the later medieval ages as St. Mary’s Abbey, it was one of the foremost nunneries in England. In 1539 Henry VIII dissolved the abbey and the site passed to the crown. The land came into the city’s hands to help defray its costs for hosting the wedding Mary Tudor and Philip of Spain in Winchester Cathedral in 1554.

The Hastings architectural firm Jeffrey and Skiller successfully submitted a design for a new Guildhall in the Gothic revival style. On 22nd December 1871 Viscount Eversley laid the foundation stone and in May 1873 Lord Selborne opened the new Guildhall. The total cost of construction was £16,000. The Guildhall was part of a larger complex, housing the law courts, police station and fire brigade. The greater part was given over to civic roles including council meetings, mayor making ceremonies, the mayor’s leaving banquet, and the mayor’s charity events.

After the Town Clerk, Mr Perkis, the City Engineer, was the real power in the Guildhall. He was an unlikeable man whose word was law and brooked no interference from anyone in his territory. He was dismissive about anything ‘arty’ or to do with ‘design’; looking upon the small architect’s department as a necessary evil to get council houses built for his roads and drains. The city could and should have had a City Architect, but this, like any request for more architectural staff, were always blocked by Mr Perkis. He did not want Mr Steptoe promoted as that might have threatened his power base and, by also continually blocking all Mr Steptoe’s requests for more staff, he could argue that the architect’s office was not large enough to merit the appointment of a City Architect.

Mr Steptoe was a kind man with a gentle manner, almost timid and diffident, who rarely raised his voice. With hindsight I can now say that although he probably was not the most gifted or imaginative Architect, but he was extremely competent and sound. His buildings always fitted into a site and looked as if they belonged. Even when he was building in an historic part of Winchester his finished buildings never looked out of place.

He was of slender build and of medium height, with thinning black hair combed back from his forehead’ a pallid complexion and a small toothbrush moustache. Mr Steptoe always wore a smart conservatively tailored two-piece suit with a faint Harris Tweed check, a mustard-yellow waistcoat, and well-polished brown shoes. He was probably in his early 40’s as I recall him saying once that he had become Assistant City Architect 14 years after getting his ‘ticket’- which I assume was his architectural qualification. Mr Steptoe drove a new Morris Minor traveller with green paintwork, which was his pride and joy and which he kept in immaculate condition. He was very patient and gradually taught me all the basics of drafting and how buildings were put together.

The only other person in the architect’s office was a cheerful architectural assistant in his mid- 20’s called Mike Bryant, who had been to college for three years and got his intermediate exam. He often dressed in a casual student manner, with dark cord jeans a check shirt and a patterned jumper and drove one of the new BMC Mini Cooper cars very fast.

So with Mr Steptoe designing, sorting out the planning drawings, specifications and contact documentation; Mike Bryant preparing the detailed drawings and schedules and me, the general dogsbody, doing anything else I was asked to do, such as tracing, drawing alterations, printing, colouring, occasional site visits and making the tea, we three handled all the architectural work in the Guildhall and, over my time there, I gradually learnt – often without realising it- a great deal about buildings and how they were put together.

Drawing Equipment.

When I started work the units of measurement were still feet and inches, as metrication was still a decade away and although computers, smartphones, and social media were still a long way into the future there were still many changes happening in the draftsman’s world in next three years.

In the Winchester City Architects and Engineers departments drawing was still done in the traditional way, we sat on high stools at a drafting table, on which a double-elephant sized drawing board, propped at an angle on two bricks, complete with a large ‘T’ square. For drawing we used a wooden ruler marked in feet and inches in various scales, a protractor for angles, two standard set-squares- one at 45 degrees and the other at 30 and 60 degrees, plus compasses for drawing circles. We worked on sheets of tracing paper cut from a large roll but for drawings that were required for record purposes we drew on linen paper.

The drawing board was first covered with a white paper backing sheet, held on with drawing pins. The drawing pins were special ones with wide heads of ½ inch (13mm) diameter, which made them easier to remove. An innovation in the early 1960’s was the introduction of masking tape to hold drawings down, which was much more convenient than drawing pins and did not make holes in either the drawing or drawing board.

Finished drawings were done in ink, using a ruling pen, which consisted of a small pair of callipers, having one flat and one bowed leg holding ink between them. By adjusting the gap between the legs, the width of the line drawn by the pen could be adjusted. Such pens, kept at a constant angle to the paper, were used for ruling lines, but not for cursive handwriting, nor for off-hand flourishes.

They had to be filled every few minutes with a tiny spot of ink between the two blades, applied carefully with s dropper from the ink bottle. Too much ink and it blobbed, too little and it ran out before the line was finished. The width of the ink line could be varied by adjusting the knurled knob on the blades, but it was very much hit and miss getting a constant clean line width. The whole process was slow, messy, and very laborious.

Lettering and notes on drawings was done with dip pens, a metal nib in a wooden holder, with different nib widths for finer or bolder lettering. Notes on a drawing had to be neat, legible, of appropriate size and placed as part of the balanced final composition of the finished drawing. With the introduction of Rotring pens and lettering stencils in 1962 these rapidly became redundant.

Soon after starting at college, I discovered the students there used the Graphos Indian ink drafting fountain pen for architects and engineers, which I later found had been around since 1934. The Graphos pen was sold in sets with one holder and several interchangeable nibs, each one giving a line of a specific width and a clean, sharp line. One of my first purchases was a set with 12 nibs, which I still have. I still had to put a spot of ink on the nib every few lines, but the whole process was much faster, less messy and there were fewer blobs.

By the time I moved on to another office in 1962 the Rotring drawing pen had become available, which was a pen holder and top into which various size pen widths with integral tubes of ink could be screwed. The tube of ink on each nib was filled from a narrow spout on a special bottle of ink. Such pens frequently came in sets of various sizes, and several pen points which were installed into the holders that also contained a filled fountain, which in turn would be screwed into a handle. A full set of 9 nibs ranged from 0.13 to 2.0 mm, and each gave a constant line thickness. Having a tube of ink on each nib virtually eliminated any mess and allowed lines to be drawn for several hours before re-filling, which made ink drawing so much faster. I still have the set I bought, even though I have been drawing on my computer for the last fifteen years.

The other big innovations at the beginning of the 1960’s were the availability of adjustable set squares and the parallel motion drawing boards, all of which eliminated all the separate pieces of equipment and further speeded up the whole process of drawing.

From a stationer’s shop in Eastleigh I soon bought my own small parallel motion drawing board and stand plus a fine red Anglepoise lamp for doing my college drawing work at home. The board is long gone but 50 years later the lamp is still lighting my work as I type this.

My Job.

Mr Steptoe designed council houses and flats, Mike developed the designs and did working drawings, and I did tracing, alterations to drawings, printing, archiving, some small, measured surveys, answering the phone, taking messages, making the tea, getting a supply of biscuits- plus anything else that they wanted me to do.

Mr Steptoe or Mike would rough out a drawing in pencil on several pieces of tracing paper and then hand it over to me. I would first arrange all the pieces of a drawing on my board in a logical sequence so they could be easily read by the builder, and then put a standard size of tracing sheet over the top and trace all the pieces it again in pencil on the one sheet. Then either Mr Steptoe or Mike would come and look at the drawing and suggest any modifications or improvements and what noted needed to be put on the drawing where. Then I would put another sheet of tracing paper or linen paper over the top and do the final tracing in ink and the notes in free hand lettering.

Mr Steptoe taught me that, for a right-handed person drawing in pencil, the best way to avoid smudging was to work from the top left to bottom right of a drawing. Alterations to ink drawings were by the laborious method of gently scratching the surface of the tracing paper gently with a razor blade until the ink lines were removed. Then the surface had to be burnished smooth again with a metal object, like a small teaspoon, before more ink lines could be drawn over the scratched area. If the paper was not burnished totally smooth the ink would run and spread in the area and it would have to be done again.

The job I disliked most was printing. The print room was in a small dusty rectangular room about 15 feet by 8 feet, immediately to the right at the top of the stairs. Most of the long wall opposite the door was taken up by an ancient, cumbersome, floor mounted print developing machine, to the right of which was an old-fashioned sink and a small draining board, with some daylight struggling in from the end wall on the right from a small grimy dormer window at shoulder height, half of which opened to provide minimal ventilation. It was stuffy in the room but in mid-summer, with the hot sun beating down on the roof above, it became almost unbearably hot.

Cantilevered from the wall to the stairs, adjacent to the door, was a tabletop about four feet wide and six feet long, below which the pre-cut, yellow-faced print paper of various standard imperial sizes were stored in their light-proof packaging. There was also a 30-inch-wide roll of the paper from which a suitable length could be cut if the drawing being printed was longer than usual.

The print machine was essentially a tube, about four feet long and perhaps two feet in diameter, held up at either end by cast iron supports. The top half of the tube was clear curved glass covered with a removable light-proof cloth and the bottom half was curved metal lined with fluorescent tubes.

Above it, on the wall was a simple timer clock whose hands measured minutes and seconds, up to about five minutes. Above that yet again, just above head height, was the dark stained wooden developing box screwed to the wall, about a foot square and three feet long, which opened at one end. At the bottom of the box, in its own separate small compartment, was a shallow metal (Zinc?) tray about nine inches wide and three feet long, into which an ammonia-based developing liquid was poured.

The first step in making a print of an architectural drawing was to fold back the covering on the glass tube then carefully positioning the drawing, face down, onto it. Then, on top of the back of the drawing the appropriate size of print paper was placed, yellow side down, then the covering was carefully rolled back over the tube to seal it.

The second step was to switch the fluorescent lights in the tube on and start the timer. The trick was knowing just how long to keep the lights on for a particular type of drawing, usually about two minutes maximum. Too short a time and the print would still be shades of yellow; too long and it would all bleach out white. The aim was to leave the lights on long enough to bleach out everything except what had been drawn the lines and to produce a crisp yellow lines and lettering for developing. The other variants that determined the time the lights were left on varied depending if the drawing was on thin or thick tracing paper or even linen paper; if it was in pencil or ink and if the drawing was ‘clean’ or had grubby marks smeared on it from alterations or just poor drawing technique. There was no handbook or rules giving guidance on time – it was all down to learning ‘on the job’ by trial and error. And there were many errors until I got to the stage of looking at a drawing and knowing the printing would take, say, 1 minute and twenty seconds and the developing two minutes.

The final step was to roll the exposed print paper up and feed it into the end of the developing box for a couple of minutes or so. Again, initially, it was all trial and error, as in the box the ammonia liquid vapour turned the yellow lines black and the bleached-out areas white. If the timings were right, out would come a legible print; if left in too short a time the lines would come out a yellow-grey and would soon fade in daylight; a bit too long and the whole sheet would be various shades of grey; far too long and the whole sheet would turn black and be completely illegible. If you got it wrong you had to do it all over again, but with adjusted timings.

If I had to run off a batch of prints, say ten or twenty, the atmosphere in the small print room became unbearably stuffy from the ammonia fumes and poor ventilation; great for clearing a blocked nose or sinuses, but vile in the heat of the summer. Today I am sure it would violate all sorts of Health and Safety regulations but, in those days, you just got on with it and did the job.

Tomatoes and Flies.

The drawing office that I worked in at the Guildhall, Winchester, from the 16th of November 1959, was on the top floor, directly under the steeply pitched slate tiled roof. The ventilation on the top floor was not great and the room got very hot in summer. On the south side of the room was an alcove off the main space, about 4 feet x 4 feet, with one small gothic revival window at chest height with a nine-inch-wide windowsill. It was in this alcove that the office kettle and mugs were kept, and it was my job, twice a day, to make coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. On the windowsill were four small flowerpots full of potting compost and some long-dead plants. I tried putting some water on the plants, but they were too far gone to revive.

My mother used to make me cheese and tomato sandwiches for my lunch and, in the spring, while waiting for the kettle to boil for my lunch-time mug of tea, I idly picked a few tomato seeds from my sandwich and stuck them into the now damp soil. A few days later, to my surprise, tiny plants started to grow and every day they grew bigger. Eventually I had to get four quite large pots and stake the now luxuriant plants that filled the window with some bamboo canes and soon I got an excellent crop of tomatoes. The south-facing window proved to be an ideal place to grow tomatoes and for the next two years, in the spring and summer, I grew so many tomatoes that I had fresh ones with my lunchtime sandwiches almost every day and was also able to take some home.

In summer and under the roof the office got very hot and there were too few opening windows and no chance of getting a decent cross-draught. It was an ideal breeding ground for flies; mostly big, buzzing blue-bottles- and there were so many they must have been breeding like…. flies. They were very annoying; buzzing around our heads when we were trying to work; crawling on every surface and on the window glass. We tried putting up sticky dangling tape that was supposed to catch flies but without much success, and I think it might have been the days before aerosol fly sprays were available.

There were only two of us in the drafting room which was big enough for six people. My colleague was Mike Bryant, who was in his early 20s and had passed his RIBA intermediate exam as a full-time student. He did not live in Winchester but drove home each weekend to his parent’s home on the south coast between Portsmouth and Brighton. It was Mike who came up with the game, one hot afternoon when our boss, Mr Steptoe, the Assistant City Architect, was out on site and we were bored.

We worked on large double-elephant sized drawing boards (why were they called ‘double-elephant? – I don’t know) with large wooden ‘T’ squares about four feet long. Mike came up with the idea of linking several big rubber bands together- of which there were plenty in the office- hooking it over the end of the ‘T’ square, holding the ‘T’ part into our shoulders, aiming it like a gun and shooting the flies. It whiled away many hot afternoons and he even had a scoring system for us. Shooting a fly crawling on a window glass scored 1 point; on a partition 2; on the sloping ceiling- a more difficult shot- 3 and for actually shooting one down in the air- extremely difficult- 4. We kept accurate scores and at the end of every week the one with the most points was crowned the ‘ace’ and the loser had to buy the winner a Mars bar.

Icy Reception.

As a teenager I lived in Bishopstoke, a village recorded in the Domesday Book, which is on a hill some two miles east of the town of Eastleigh; one and a half miles from its railway station and seven miles from the City of Winchester to the north. From the autumn of 1959 I worked in the City of Winchester. The only way for me to get there was on my bicycle as on my take-home weekly pay of about £4 per week I could not afford the weekly return bus fare to Eastleigh and the train fare to and from Winchester. So, for over two years, in all weathers I cycled. The first three miles from Bishopstoke were across country roads and lanes, until joining a main road near the village of Twyford.

My daily route from my home at 1, White Road, Bishopstoke was via the Stoke Common Road to Stoke Common, then a right turn into Church Road, down the steep hill into the valley which, after about a mile turned into Bishopstoke Lane. At the crossroad with Church Lane at Colden Common Village I crossed straight over and up the short, steep climb of Upper Manor Road, which then turned into Lower Manor Road. At its junction with the B3335 from Eastleigh to Winchester I turned right and on through Twyford Village to the junction with the Winchester by-pass (now upgraded to the M3). I crossed the by-pass onto Five Bridges Road and at its far end turned sharp right onto St Cross Road, through St Cross and on to its junction with Winchester High Street, then turned sharp right and down the Street to The Broadway and The Guildhall- a distance of seven miles.

I usually allowed half an hour for the trip, leaving at 8-15am in the morning to be in work by 9 am and leaving work at 5pm. For most of the year it was a lovely ride, but in the winter it was different. It was often pitch dark when I set off in the morning and the same when I set off home. The main roads were not too bad because there was some light from the passing traffic, but the last three miles home could be difficult. The country road and lane were unlighted, narrow, undulating, twisting and were not very well maintained. A further complication was that they were often used by farm tractors and herds of cows during the day and the liquid, mud, and manure they left on the road was a constant hazard, particularly when there had been a hard frost. There was a constant risk of my front wheel sliding out from under me on the icy road or on humps of frozen manure that were impossible to see by the light of my weak battery front lamp. It was worse when it was foggy, raining, or with icy conditions and even snow, particularly if it was both raining and with a strong wind. My weather protection was a sou’ wester, a pair of plastic over-trousers and a cycling cape, which acted as a sail in strong winds and tended to blow me all over the road unless I was very careful.

I had quite a few scary moments, a few spills and near misses but one I particularly remember was on my way home on a very dark, wet evening in 1961. I was riding along Upper Moors Road, a narrow country lane that was just wide enough for two cars to pass slowly with care- and remember that cars in those days were so much smaller and narrower than the pumped-up ones of 2020. I had just started down the short steep section of the road to the Church Lane cross-roads. On either side was a bank of earth about shoulder high with a thick hedge on top. As I started down a car turned into the road from the bottom and the fool driver switched on his or her headlights to high beam. I was completely blinded, jammed on my brakes, slid on the wet road, and hit the bank on my left. The car swept past and when I righted my bike, I found that I had hit a large rock in the bank and buckled my front wheel. I had no option but to put the bike on my shoulder and walk the last couple of miles home in the, by then, really pouring rain. I was really wet and cold by the time I got home; nearly an hour after my usual time, and my mother was beginning to get quite worried. Luckily, I had a spare front wheel so was able to cycle to work the next day and the next Saturday I took the wheel into Jack Hobbs’ cycle shop in Eastleigh to get the wheel straightened.

Another time I woke up as usual in the dark at 7am to not only a hard frost but also to find there had been a couple of inches of snow overnight. There was no local traffic moving and the 7-15 am daily workman’s’ bus to Eastleigh Railway Works can’t have been running as, looking out of the window, in the glow of the few orange-yellow street lights I could see groups of workmen trudging off down the hill in their work boots, mackintoshes and caps with their ex-army rucksacks on their shoulders that held their thermos flasks and lunchtime sandwiches. I set off for work at the usual time but when I got to the Forrester’s Arms at Stoke Common, at the junction of Church Road and the steep hill down into the valley, I saw the road was still totally covered with snow and nothing had gone down or up the hill. It was not on, so I turned around and went back home. Only main roads were sometimes kept ploughed and gritted but the back roads never were. Back home I could hear no sound of trains passing through Eastleigh Station, some one and a half miles way and so assumed that trains were not running. They often didn’t in those days, as points and even signals sometimes froze up. People did not have telephones in those days and so I had no way of checking if the trains were running or even letting my office know of the situation.

I was not able to get into the office for two days but a couple of days after my very decent boss, the Assistant City Architect Mr C. C. C. (Charlie) Steptoe, appeared at my drawing board and said, rather apologetically, that the Deputy City Engineer wanted to see me immediately. In those days the City Engineers were all-powerful in the Local Authority Offices and for me to be called into his office did not sound good. I had never been into his office before, which was on the first floor of the Guildhall, overlooking The Broadway. I arrived at his secretaries’ desk in her small, glazed cubicle outer office and was soon ushered me into his office and she left, closing the door behind her.

I cannot remember his name, but he was possibly middle-aged, with thick black hair swept back with Brylcreem hair cream from his balding forehead. He, as usual, wore a dark, three-piece suit, white shirt, and tie, looking more like a provincial bank manager than an engineer. He had rather a heavy face and, after finishing what he was writing at his desk, he looked up and gave me an icy look, as if he was a bank manager about to refuse my request for an overdraft.

After a bit of a pause, he said that I had been absent from my desk for two days and had I been ill? I told him the tale and after another pause, he asked me why I had not caught the train from Eastleigh station. I explained that the local bus was not running, and it would have meant a one and a half mile walk through the snow to Eastleigh to even find out if the trains were running. Also, I did not know that even if I managed to get a train they may well have stopped running by the evening and I would not have been able to get home. After another pause, he said that I should have tried, so he would dock me two days of holiday in lieu. He then dismissed me back to my drawing board.

NALGO union rules were that if a member of staff could not get to work for reasons totally beyond their control- such as bad weather- they should not be docked any pay or holiday. That cut no ice with the Deputy City Engineer- but that was par for the course of how staff were treated in those days.

Fireworks at Winchester.

Every year we looked forward to Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th and the big ‘draw’ for people was the firework display at Winchester. People would come from miles around and the City Centre would be swarming with swirling crowds of teenagers and students as well as parents and younger children. The big bonfire and large firework display were at a place called Oliver’s Battery; up the hill out of the City Centre. It is said the place got its name from the time of the civil war when Oliver Cromwell’s army besieged Winchester and placed its cannon there to bombard the castle.

Bonfire night was an excuse for celebrations by teenagers and students in the early 1960s and the festivities at Winchester were no exception. It was Saturday, 3rd November 1961 and I had been working in the Architect’s department at the Guildhall for two years. I had got to know a few local lads through work and the local Judo Club and was invited that year to join a group of them on the night out. The 5th was on the following Monday, so all the action was to be on the Saturday evening. I travelled to Winchester from Eastleigh on the early evening train with a friend and joined up with the others at the agreed rendezvous point by King Alfred’s statue at the western end of The Broadway, close to the Guildhall at about 7-30. I wore my dark grey duffel coat, a dark woolly hat, a long scarf, jeans and Wellington boots and my friends were similarly dressed.

The centre of Winchester was already heaving with people of all ages, but most of them teenagers or in their twenties; many of them students from Winchester Art School. Most of the students, both male and female, usually wore the almost standard casual uniform of the time to mark themselves out as ‘arty’ individuals: a hooded duffle coat in black, navy blue, a roll-neck sweater, dark brown cord or blue jeans, long scarfs, gloves, and thick-soled shoes. Their girls also wore duffle coats but with thick woollen mini-skirts, woollen patterned tights, and sensible flat-heeled shoes. The art school crowd were easy to pick out because many of the men had long hair and even beards and the women long hair, usually tied back with some sort of bandana. The more neatly and conservatively dressed young people were clearly those who worked in offices, shops or the local or county council or giggling groups of girls out for the evening.

The main action for the evening took place along the High Street, from The Broadway at the lower east end up the hill westwards past The Pentice, a 16th century row of arcaded shops, to the crossroad with Southgate Street and Jewry Street, which has since been closed to traffic and pedestrianised. People were much more casual about fireworks than they are today and many of the (male) teen and twenty crowd had pockets full of penny bangers and sparklers. The girls were fond of sparklers, which they lit and waved around; dropping the hot wire onto the road once the sparking flame had died out, and promptly lighting another.

For the next couple of hours, a tightly packed throng of people milled up and down the High Street, laughing, talking, getting hot drinks, drinking cans of coke, beer, and cider, getting slightly pissed, and generally having a good time. A trick for the men was to drop a lighted penny banger, or even a small catherine wheel, behind and individual or group of girls and have a good laugh as they jumped around squealing loudly; so, there were plenty of bangs and female screams that evening. It was a good opportunity to meet up with and, if you were lucky, chat up new girls and the most was made of it by all parties.

On this occasion we were part of a swirling crowd making our way up the main street, past the arcaded medieval shops called the Pentice and towards the Butter Cross memorial. It was very dark by this time and the crowd was only fitfully illuminated by the weak glow of the infrequent streetlamps and from shop window displays. One had to keep a very sharp lookout for mates in other groups as if given half a chance they would slip up behind you and drop a lighted banger in your duffel coat pocket or even in your hood. The resulting bang would either blow a hole in your pocket or singe your hood, causing gales of laughter as you danced around trying to beat out smoking cloth.

I was with a couple of friends in the thick of things near the Butter Cross, by The Pentice, when I felt several urgent taps on my shoulder and turned around to find a tall man standing behind me. He was about my height, wore a snap-brim trilby hat and a long dark overcoat; had a swarthy face with a prominent nose that looked a bit like a ferret and a pair of piercing eyes under dark eyebrows that were fixed on me. He held up a warrant card and said he was a plain clothes policeman. He did not look like a man to get on the wrong side of and he told us to follow him over to the side of the road. He gave us a bit of a talking to; saying he had had had his eye on us for some time (But we weren’t doing anything- honest, Guv!) He said he would have people watching us for the rest of the evening and if we stepped out of line in any way we would be in for the high jump.

He put the fear of God up us and quite spoilt our evening. For the rest of the time, we were constantly glancing nervously around the dense crowd and had to be extra careful when and where we dropped our fireworks. Every moment I was expecting my collar to be felt and to be marched off ignominiously to a police van. However, all was well and eventually my friend and I relaxed when we were back on the train to Eastleigh. We bolstered each other’s confidence by imagining what we would have done if he had tried to put the arm on us, and how we would have easily got away in the crowd. We reckoned it didn’t matter anyway as, even if he was after us, didn’t live in Winchester and so it was unlikely that he would be able to trace us. So, we forgot about it.

Fast forward many months and one Saturday I was visiting my friend Bob Fowler and his parents who had recently moved from Eastleigh to No 7, Earls Close, Bishopstoke; a cul-de-sac of new houses recently built in an old sand pit just off the Fair Oak Road. He then revealed that he had a new girlfriend, who he had been seeing for some weeks, who lived three houses away from him. Her name was Pat, and would I like to meet her? I went along to her house with him and in through the back door- as front doors were only used for formal visitors. Pat was in the kitchen, and I was introduced and after chatting for a bit she asked me if I would like to meet her parents, who were in the front room.

We entered the room and her parents got up to be introduced and stood absolutely rooted to the spot- her father was the cop from Winchester. My mind went totally blank, and I had a horrible vision of him whipping out the bracelets and snarling “You’re nicked!” just like on the TV cop programmes. Instead of which he smiled and shook my hand. I was sure he had recognised me and that as he now had my name to put to my face, I was dead in the water. I somehow stuttered my way through a bit of chat then made some excuse and left. I kept clear of the Fowler’s house for a week or two after that as I imagined he might be checking up on me before making his move.

However, all was well, and nothing happened or was said, and I eventually got to know Pat’s parents quite well. In 1966 Bob and Pat got married and I was their best man, and it was years before I told them about my meeting with her father- but am now able to say to Bob I knew his father-in-law before he did!

Winchester Judo Club.

I cannot recall how I started at Judo, but somehow in 1960 I was introduced to a club in Chesil Street, Winchester, where I trained for three years. The club was run by Liz Viney who, with her father, ran an antique shop there. At the side of her house/ shop was a narrow path leading to a small red brick hall with a slate roof and it was here the club met. Liz Viney was a brown belt and was or had been in the British Judo team. The instructor for beginners was a blue belt called John Collins, who was a corporal in the Green Jackets rifle brigade who was based at Winchester Barracks. I believe he was also a physical training and unarmed combat instructor in the army, and he certainly put us through a tough training regime.

Fortunately, the beginner’s night was on an evening I was not at night school at Southampton and for the next three years I went once a week in all weathers for a two-hour practice session and sometimes for extra weekend training. The Judo practice evening also involved extra miles on the bike as I always went home to Bishopstoke for tea first before cycling back to Winchester for practice. The two trips there and back clocking up 28 miles and I was often not home until 10pm.

One of the first hard lessons that he drilled into us was how to fall in any direction without hurting ourselves: forwards, backwards and sideways until we could forward dive over pieces of equipment or off the top of a vaulting horse and in one smooth movement come straight up on our feet and into a defensive stance. I, and the others, collected a lot of bruises before we got the hang of it. Then we started to learn how to throw and be thrown from all angles and positions to all points of the compass, hit the floor and roll straight back onto our feet. Ankle throws, leg sweeps, hip throws, shoulder throws, stomach throws- he put us through the lot, at first gently and then speeding up. After more bruises and a few sprains in a few weeks we started on basic Randori (contact training sessions), in which we paired up and at the word of command fought for three minutes, then stopped for one minute, then moved on to the next partner and did it again and again until everybody had fought each other.

On a typical training session, he would announce we were to practice hip throws. He would then closely supervise as we all had turns with each other practicing the throws in slow motion to get the movement right. He would then select a student (usually me) to demonstrate the next stage. I would be blindfolded before we each grasped the others judo jacket in the basic hand grip, the left hand on the opponents lower right sleeve and the right hand on his left collar. I then had to rely completely on sound and the feel of John’s movements guess what variant of the hip throw he was about to do. From his first slight move there was split second to realise what the throw was and either try to counter or twist with the throw to land without damage. If I got it totally wrong, blocked in the wrong direction or didn’t twist fast enough I would be thrown heavily and hit the ground like a sack of coals. Then all the other students would pair up, one with a blindfold and one without, and go through the routine again and again.

He also used the variant using rubber knives and no contact. We would be told that we would be practicing blocking (say) an overhead stab. We would all be perfectly quiet while one student was blindfolded and the other not. The one without the blindfold would have the rubber knife and circle around the one with the blindfold, sliding his feet along the canvas practice mat, which made a faint slithering sound. The trick was to listen to the sound on the mat, the persons breathing and any faint rustle from his costume. At the word ‘go’ from John the one with the knife would have to attack immediately, using the overhead stabbing motion. It was amazing that after only a few weeks of this how often the attacker was blocked and thrown to the ground.

After over three years at the club, I switched to a judo club in Southampton as I was then working there. It was while at that club I had a serious motorcycle accident at Romsey; coming very near to getting killed and was unable to practice for about six months until my injuries had healed.

I liked Judo and took to it like a duck to water. I am not a team player and prefer sports that either only required one person such as swimming, cycling, running, or walking, or one against one as in squash or Judo. I liked the whole idea of one against one and the best man on the day winning. Judo is essentially defensive, turning your opponent’s strength against himself. It is a combat situation of bluff and counter bluff. One develops the lightening ability to read your opponent’s body language or feel the slightest movement of his muscles, shift of weight or centre of balance. The key is to always to watch their eyes- they often twitch or move slightly before a throw is attempted which gives you a split-second edge to block or counter the move.

Through my cycling I was extremely fit and what I lacked in skill I more than made up for in tenacity, speed, and endurance. In Judo you cannot fool people. You either can do it, or you can’t- and the proof is either who has the most Ippons (point scores), Waziris (half point scores) or who is standing up at the end of the bout.

I was given a lot of encouragement by various instructors over the years to go in for grading examinations but with my work and college work I did not have the time for the continuous training required to progress through the various grades of belts up to a possible black belt – I just enjoyed the club training and contests, without letting it take over my life. After about ten years I became proficient enough to be a competent club performer and difficult to beat and could handle most opponents up to brown belt level. However, practice with a 1st Dan black belt was a whole different ballgame. It was extremely rare for me to even get a Waziri when practicing with them but being young, fit, fast and good at defence I was usually able to give him a good work-out before they eventually nailed me.

Over the years I trained with some very interesting people. After three years at the Winchester Judo Club, I did two years at a judo club in Southampton and from 1968 to 1972 I was based in Portsmouth and trained two evenings a week at the club run by Dennis Penfold, a 2nd Dan and ex-UK internationals. Dennis particularly tried very hard to get me to go in for a grading. He said it was not fair for someone fighting what he thought was a beginner when in fact I had a few years’ experience, so I finally capitulated and at my first – and only grading I bothered to take- I jumped straight up to a green belt. It was at Dennis’s club that I had my first injury. I was fighting a 1st Dan and was finally thrown with a shoulder throw and landed on my head. The next thing I remember was waking up in Portsmouth hospital where I was diagnosed with concussion and had to be woken up every hour that night to see that I was alright. I was OK by the next day and was discharged but was not allowed to practice again for two weeks.

In 1972 and I was in Manchester and trained for a year at a club run by a Mr Hosaka, a 4th Dan who had been both a junior and senior Champion in Japan. He was a very wise person. I remember him instructing us once that students should only use Judo to defend themselves as a very last resort. He said if someone threatens you, do everything in your power to get away. Do not be aggressive in return, give them your money or run away if that is the only option. There is no shame in that. But if, he added, there were no options left, then fight. Do not fight by any rulebook. Use any method or technique, orthodox or unorthodox; to make sure you are the person standing at the end. I hope I have always followed this sound advice.

From the autumn 1973 I was working in London and, for a year, trained at the Budokwai, Britain’s premier and oldest Judo Club, which was founded in 1918. It was where the British Judo Squad trained, and I had the privilege now and again of training with the British Internationals squad who were based at the club. Experienced club Judoka like me were occasionally used as practice cannon fodder. We were used by the Internationals as sparring partners to practice moves on and in line-ups, which were particularly hard work.

Up to eight or nine of us would be detailed off to line up and a particular international would work down the line, fighting each of them in turn; each bout lasting no longer than three minutes. As soon as he threw one the next in line would attack him, and so on until he had defeated them all. This was all to help develop his speed and endurance. We could use any technique we liked on them. A particular International would be honing up on a particular technique, say Tai Toshi (body Drop), and he would only use that technique, and only the left- or right-hand version, not both. In theory it gave us a great advantage knowing how they were going to attack but they were so well trained, fast, and strong that I cannot remember any one of them being thrown in a line-up.

One of the star players at the club was Brian Jacks, the son of a London taxi driver. He was the first British Judo man to win a bronze medal in an international competition; first at the world championships at Salt Lake City in 1967 and then again at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and from November 1994 he held the official Judo rank of 8th Dan from the British Judo Association. He trained ferociously and rumour had it that he even went running in army boots with a knapsack on his back filled with bricks. He was only interested in winning and he was the most physical and brutal fighter I ever sparred with.

Most experienced black belts I have fought had the skill of scaling down their performance to just above the level of the lower-grade person they were training with by restricting the type of throws they would use to the ones their opponent would know and of these would only use a few just to practice their techniques. This made the lower grade person think that the black belt they were fighting was possibly beatable, so they would put everything into the contest. The black belt honed his techniques, and the lower grade had a really good work out. If they threw you, which they generally did as they were fitter and faster, they would ensure you hit the mat squarely and with the minimum of force.

Brian Jacks was a British International, and who was at that time a 2nd or 3rd Dan. He was different- he fought everyone, even in a friendly bout, as if it was the final bout for an Olympic gold medal. When he threw you, even if you were a relative beginner, he would drive you into the mat like a pile-driver. He was extremely fit, fast, and extremely strong and many lower ranking Judo players would not practice with him because so many got hurt. (See adjacent photo).

The Budokwai had two Dojos or training rooms with one used for beginners and ordinary club players like me, while the other was reserved for the black belts and internationals. One evening I was training at the club when a black belt trainer entered the Dojo and asked for volunteers to take part in a training line-up for Brian Jacks, who had already been training hard for two hours. The etiquette of Judo is that when you are asked to do something by your trainer or a Dan-grade black belt you do it, so when he pointed to several people, including me, I really could not say no.

I was seventh in a line-up of nine and I watched nervously as Brian worked his way through them with his usual frightening efficiency. At last, it was my turn and I was signalled onto the mat and I walked out nervously to the line where we faced each other where, at a signal from the referee, we bowed from the waist to each other. I knew I had not the faintest chance of beating him, so my aim was to possibly last the distance and not get hurt too much. As a green belt, although a very experienced one, I was way below his skill level and at 11 ½ stone, was much lighter than him, but I to was fit and reasonably quick. I decided that my only option was to attack him as fast and as long as I could until he nailed me. So, from the word of command to start the bout I went at him at top speed, not staying in any one place for more than a split second and attacking him continuously with all the limited throws I knew, trying to break up any of his attacking or counter- attacking moves. Although each bout only lasted three minutes it felt to me as one of the longest and most intense three minutes of my life. Thankfully, at the end I was still on my feet and unhurt.

I, of course, had not the faintest chance of throwing him but, more importantly, he had not been able to throw me, so it was a draw. At the end of the bout, I was so exhausted I dropped too my knees on the mat, my costume sodden with sweat and it was dripping off me. Brian Jacks, who was three years younger than me, left the mat having barely broken sweat. Stepping past me on his way to fight the eighth person the tapped my shoulder and said, “Well done, kid!” I felt as if I had won a medal!

Farley Mount or Bust.

Farley Mount is a hill and, at 272M / 900 feet above sea level, is one of the highest points in Hampshire. It is located within what is now Farley Mount Country Park, just over four miles west of Winchester, Hampshire. It is a large area of open country and woods including chalk down grass land, Forestry Commission plantation and Crabwood which is ancient woodland Local Nature Reserve and a Local Nature Reserve. Crab Wood is a fine example of Ancient Woodland. It is a popular place to relax and view woodland wildlife. It is a Local Nature Reserve, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It consists of over 80 hectares (200 acres) of broadleaved woodland of hazel coppice beneath an oak and ash forest canopy and is rich with woodland flowers.

At the highest point there is a pyramid shaped folly which stands as a monument to a horse named ‘Beware Chalk Pit’, which carried its owner, Paulet St John, the 3rd Earl of Bolingbroke, to a racing victory in October 1734 in the Hunters Plate on Worthy Downs, just a year after both fell into a twenty-five feet deep chalk pit while out hunting.

On the 16th November1959, aged 16, I had started work as an office boy / trainee draughtsman in the Architect’s Department of Winchester City Council and shortly after New Year in 1960 I had joined the Winchester Judo club in nearby Chesil Street as a beginner. The following autumn the club announced it was going to hold its annual BBQ for all its members at a place called Farley Mount. In 1960 it had not been designated as a Country Park but was an area of heathland and countryside open to the public.

The plan was that the beginners’ class, all 18 of whom were about 17 years old, would meet at the club at the usual time of 7pm with their bicycles. Meanwhile the 30 senior members and friends, who all had cars or motorbikes, and some with sidecars, would go directly to the site and set everything up ready for the evening. At 7-30 our trainer, John Collins, a Green Jackets Physical Training Instructor, would line us all up outside the club in Chesil Street and set us of to race to Farley Mount; the first to arrive being given a prize. As the various people had different sorts of bikes, ranging from old clunkers to my racing bike, he would start people off at various times to (hopefully) give everybody an equal chance of ‘winning’. I thought this was a reasonable approach until he told me that I was going to be last as I was the most experienced cyclist and had the best bike.

The route was out of Chesil Street, into The Broadway past the statue of King Alfred, up the High Street past The Castle- the Hampshire County Council offices- then into Romsey Road, past the prison, then a turn into the Sarum Road, on past the Royal Winchester Golf Club and so to Farley Mount Monument. The current record time for a flat-course 25-mile time trial was 55 minutes; my best time being a 1hr 10 minutes so, in theory, the six miles from Chesil Street should take just over 20 minutes. However, there was the City Centre to cycle through, then a gradual hill to climb up to 900 feet and, once outside the city, the side roads we were narrow, uneven, unlit, it was pitch dark and the last few hundred yards were on an unpaved track- and the only bike lights were the rather weak battery ones of the time. I reckoned I would be lucky to do it in under half an hour- and I was given a 10 minute ‘penalty’ before I was let go.

It was quite a ride and hairy on the narrow dark roads with only my weak bicycle lamp light to guide me, but I gave it everything I had. Gradually I started overhauling the slower ones and eventually I got to the last few hundred yards and there were only two ahead of me. With a last burst of speed, I overtook them just won by about 50 yards; to loud clapping from the people standing around the flaming BBQ. I was completely cream crackered and even forgot to check my time, but soon revived after downing a mug of sweet tea and a burger with all the trimmings. The others all trickled in, in various states of exhaustion and we all settled down to have a thoroughly good evening- and it didn’t even rain! At some point I was presented with my token ‘prize’ of a half-pint glass beer mug- which I still have- and at the end of the evening I had to get back on my bike and cycle the seven miles home to Bishopstoke,

The Dirty Duck.

Shortly after I started work in Winchester, in October 1959, I learned that two other former classmates had also got jobs there. I was in The Guildhall, which fronted onto the south side of The Broadway, and Roger Burlinson was a trainee draughtsman in Sawyer’s architectural office, nearly opposite the Guildhall, on the north side. John Collins had got a job in the Winchester City Corporation Building Surveyor’s office at the top of the hill, along Romsey Road, very near Winchester prison.

We soon got into the habit of meeting up a couple of times a week for lunch. Roger and I would meet up outside The Guildhall at 1pm and we would walk up the hill, along the High Street, to the corner of Southgate Street, where we would meet John, who would walk down the hill from Romsey Road. From there it was a few yards to our lunchtime destination of choice: The Dirty Duck.

In Southgate Street was the Black Swan Cafe in Southgate Street- known locally as ‘The Dirty Duck’ or just ‘The Duck’- and at that time said to be part-owned by the footballer Mick Channon, who played for The Saints, the Southampton Football Team. It was a basic café, with not even a juke box, with a limited choice of curling sandwiches, such as cheese and tomato, limp lettuce and onion or ham and grated carrot. Drinks were tea, coffee, or Coca-Cola. The big attraction was that it was where many office girls from the nearby Hampshire County Council Offices, located at the top of the High Street, went for their lunch breaks.

The grim, looming bulk of the Hampshire County Council Offices was known locally as ‘The Kremlin’ and the office girls there considered themselves a cut above office girls in both the Guildhall and the local small professional offices. However, we lads were young, hopeful, and always thought that one day we might get lucky and be able to chat one up.

With our sandwich and bottle of Coke we would settle at one of the several small tables crowded together by the big window overlooking the street, which was a key spot to see girls approaching along the street outside, joining other small groups of hopeful teenagers on their lunchbreaks with similar aspirations to us. In giggling groups of twos and threes the girls teetered and wiggled along the pavement in high-heels, nylon-clad legs, short pencil-skirts, white blouses, and cardigans; their pert, lip-sticked, and made-up faces sometimes topped by currently fashionable bee-hive hairdo.

As soon as they were sure they were being watched from inside the café they would pause outside the entrance door, huddle quite closely together, and start talking animatedly to each other. Then, all together, they would stick their noses in the air and enter The Duck and would cluster around the counter to place their order. Then, with their coffees or cokes, they would join other girls seated at tables away from the widow and studiously ignore everything and everyone around them – but sitting so that they were able to give occasional surreptitious side-long glances at their hopeful audience in the window seats.

Any casual attempts at communication, such as “My mate fancies you!” or “Watcha name then?” or “Watcha doin tonite?” were all quickly batted away with contemptuous sniffs and raised eyebrows. Any serious attempts at badinage or chatting up to any girl in particular was firmly discouraged by the recipient turning her back on the culprit and her friends making pointed and embarrassing remarks about the culprit in loud voices.

The lunch-hour would soon be over, and we all scuttled off back to our various offices. We never succeeded in chatting anyone up in The Dirty Duck, but there was always the hopeful anticipation that the next time it might all be different.

Bishop Waltham Bus.

There was, in retrospect, the curious saga of the Bishops Waltham bus.

When I started work at Winchester City Council John Collins, a fellow classmate from school, also started work there as a trainee Building Surveyor. I worked in the Guildhall that fronts on to The Broadway, at the lower end of the city, while John worked in the WCC Building Surveyor’s office at the top of the hill, along Romsey Road, very near Winchester prison. John lived about a mile from me at Bishopstoke, along the Fair Oak Road, so every morning he would arrive outside my house at 8-30 and we would cycle the eight miles together to Winchester, to be in work by 9 am.

In the late afternoon we both left work at 5 pm and would meet up on the corner of Southgate Street and Canon Street. I would cycle up the High Street from The Guildhall and John would cycle down St James’ Lane from upper Winchester, and we would then cycle back to Bishopstoke together, and we did this for two years in all weathers.

Shortly after we started cycling to work together John suggested that we should wait for the 5-15 pm double-decker Hants and Dorset bus from the Winchester bus station to Bishops Waltham. It went on the same route as us until just beyond Twyford, where we branched off right towards Bishopstoke and it continued on the main road to Twyford. John, a very keen cyclist, said that keeping up with it would give us something to pace ourselves against, like a daily training run. So, I said OK.

We would wait until the bus passed us in Southgate Street, heading towards St Cross, and we would tuck in behind it. It was quite easy keeping up with it in the built-up areas, with all the traffic, but once outside the 30mph zone we had to work hard to keep up with it, particularly on the hills, although we were helped by being in the bus slipstream.

Very soon after starting this daily routine I quickly noticed that the same group of girls occupied the upstairs back seats of the bus every day. They were a gaggle of typists from The Castle, the rather forbidding looking Hampshire County Council Offices- known locally as ‘The Kremlin’. The girls quickly entered into the spirit of our daily chase, waving, and cheering us on as we kept up (dangerously) close behind the bus in all weathers. They would scrawl encouraging words in lipstick on pieces of white paper which they held up on the back window as we chased the bus all the way from Winchester, past St Cross, turned left across the water meadows and the river Itchen, onto the B3335 to Twyford. Beyond Twyford, at a ‘Y’ junction we went right on the B3335 towards Bishopstoke, and the bus went left onto the B3354 Bishops Waltham Road.

One of the group was a nice looking, slender blonde-haired girl, who always seemed to be wearing an electric blue light coat. She was particularly enthusiastic with her waving, smiling, and clapping as we toiled manfully to keep up. This was the one that John told me (eventually), after a week or two of chasing the bus, was the one he fancied and the real reason he had suggested it chasing the bus in the first place.

So, having told me his secret, once or twice a week John would suggest we meet up in our lunch hour and we would then walk around upper Winchester, particularly around the Castle area, in the hope of bumping into this siren in blue. I thought she seemed pretty keen on attracting John’s attention and, as he was getting nowhere, I suggested that he (or we) go and wait at Winchester bus station after work and chat up the group of girls before they got on the bus- but John was reluctant to do this.

My second suggestion was that we should be prepared to chase the bus all the way to Bishops Waltham and, either if she got off somewhere en route or stayed on until Bishops Waltham we could stop, start talking and at least find out her name. If she did not realise that John was interested after chasing the bus all that way, he was on a hiding to nothing anyway! In the event, after many months, he had done nothing except chase the bus every evening until the girls, particularly the blonde in blue, got tired of waving, lost interest, and moved forward to other parts of the bus. An opportunity lost.

When I told this story to my friend Bob Fowler (October 2019) he said that John was a little shy and reticent, particularly with girls. He was always desperate to find a girlfriend and was always scheming how to approach some girl he had seen in the office or nearby, but with no success. His father ran a paper and local convenience shop; one of a row of small shops on the junction of Fair Oak Road and Whalesmead Road.

They initially lived in a flat above the shop but later moved into a bungalow a few hundred yards along Fair Oak Road. I did not know his parents and only visited his flat briefly a few times before we left school but never visited him later in the bungalow. Bob said John’s father was an ex-Indian Army officer, a rather distant figure, with a very ‘pukka’ uptight, clipped manner; his mother very old school and correct/posh. Bob suspects there was little family warmth and he said he wouldn’t be surprised if they were very strict with John.

Southampton College of Art.

In January 1960 I enrolled at the Collage of Art, Southampton to study for the Royal Institute of British Architects Intermediate Exam – the half-way stage to becoming an architect. It was a combined day release and night school course of one whole day and three evenings a week, which I did for several years. As the School was not accredited to award its own architectural degrees the aim of our course was to prepare us to sit for external exam, which was a week-long exam held once a year at the RIBA headquarters in London. The Southampton College was a large 1930’s purpose-built building on three floors, constructed with a warm red-orange brick and large cream-painted multi-paned sash windows and a plain tile roof. It was in Bernard Street, down near the Southampton terminus railway station and the docks and bordered on a working-class area of old terrace houses, cheap shops, industrial buildings and what was known as a ‘red light’ district.

With the clarity of hindsight, the part-time architectural course I started at the age of 16 was unusual. The college itself was very small and provincial in outlook, being a combination of Art College and Building School. The Art side provided basic courses in dress making, dress design, pottery, painting, life drawing, sculpture, and lettering, possibly a third of which were for a small core of full-time students and two thirds for part-time day-release or evening class students of all ages. The larger Building School side provided part-time courses for apprentice plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, plasterers, painters, and decorators.

There were 20 of us working class lads, aged between 16 and 18, and were the product of the local secondary modern schools. We were all working in architect’s offices in either Southampton or Winchester as trainee draughtsmen or architects and were all attending this course to study for the Royal Institute of British Architects Intermediate Examination, the half-way stage to being a ‘real’ architect.

There were no other trainee architectural students in other years; we were the entire intake. There were no full-time architectural students, head of school or full-time architectural staff or head of the architectural section of the school. For our day at the college every week a tutor, usually a young local architect earning a bit of extra money, was appointed to be in overall charge of us for that year, and the evening lectures were given by local practicing professionals. There were no formal lectures or guidance on either the history or theory of design, or even such topics as regional styles, local materials, historical context, and site integration. These were not mentioned even in passing, while the cross-fertilisation between the Decorative and Fine Arts and Architecture between 1850 and 1959 was totally off their radar and even the History of Architecture lectures stopped at about 1850.

We were told that we would only need a few books for the course which included ‘Draughtsmanship’ by Frazer Reekie, three books on Building Construction, a book on Sanitation and Drainage, a book on Structural Design and Calculations, and The History of Architecture by Bannister Fletcher. Being very poorly paid and having no money to spare it was a struggle for many of the students, including me, to buy that limited list, even second hand.

The Art College had no architectural library – I am not sure if they even had an art library – and certainly my local library at Eastleigh had no architectural or design books. We students were never given any list of suggested reading and were just told to look at the Architects Journal, the RIBA journal, or the Architectural Review. The AJ and the AR are quite expensive publications. We had no guidance or access to any other books and so sailed on in complete ignorance. As the School was not accredited to award its own architectural degrees the aim of our course was to prepare us to sit for the RIBA Intermediate external exam, which was a week-long exam held once a year at the RIBA in London.

The first hurdle for a part-time student was getting accepted as a student member or ‘Probationer’ as it was called, of the Royal Institute of British Architects, whose headquarters is in Portland Place, London. An external, part time student would have to be first registered with a college that had an RIBA-approved course to Intermediate level. Then an application form had to be sent to the RIBA, confirming your enrolment on an approved course, complete with evidence of the right number and subjects of ‘O’ level passes, character references, evidence of employment in an architect’s office and an employer’s reference. After some time, a letter would arrive from the RIBA enrolling the student as a probationer and off you went.

The first stumbling block was when we students found out that only a certain group of ‘O’ levels were acceptable to the RIBA. These had to include Maths, English, Technical Drawing and Art, which luckily, I had achieved. Those who did not have the right number, or the right combination of subjects had to leave the course and either just train to be a draughtsman on a different course or study for the missing ‘O’ level exams in their own time and try again the following year. Several students left the course at that point and were not heard of again.

Up until the late 1950’s there were many routes to becoming an Architect, apart from the obvious one of getting ‘A’ level exams at school and going full time to a University School of Architecture for the full seven-year course. As grants were few and far between this route was mostly restricted to sons of the wealthier middle classes who, because of their family connections, mostly had a direct career route ahead of them as future partners of existing firms or head of their own practices. For the likes of us, mostly from working class backgrounds who wanted to be architects, there were several alternative routes, each of which took a long time and required a lot of personal commitment.

The Royal Institute of British Architects, which totally controlled the profession and its entry requirements, had a system whereby ‘other ranks’ could become architects on what was called the ‘external student’ course. Armed with a few suitable specified ‘O’ levels one could study to be an architect on either on day release basis- which I was on- or block release course. The block release was based on going to an recognised School of Architecture as a full-time student for four months of the year; your salary and school fees paid by your employer and then work full time with them for the other eight months. The disadvantage of the block release course, mainly run by County Councils who were the only employers who could afford it, was that you had to sign a contract to agree to stay with them for two years after you qualified which in effect tied you to them for at least ten years. This was OK if you saw your career as being in County Councils but if you chose to leave you would have to pay back all the fees to them.

Another alternative was that rare, but possible, for men who had first done an apprenticeship as, say, a carpenter or become a site foreman to do a conversion course with exemptions allowed for some of the RIBA Intermediate exams and then go on to study for the final external exams become an architect.

Up until the 1950s there was also an alternative route of becoming an architect, without having to have either studied or taken any exams, which was to become a Licentiate of the RIBA, which allowed the recipient to put LRIBA after his name. It was applied to someone who might start in an Architects firm as an office boy and in maybe 25 years working his way up the firm’s hierarchy become an associate or even a partner. If, with the backing of both his firm and the local chapter of the RIBA, he could demonstrate to the RIBA a sufficient body of work he had done over the years at an appropriate level of professional competence he became a licentiate.

The end result of this that up until the mid-1960s a diversity of tributaries fed the architectural river with practitioners from reasonably diverse backgrounds, though predominantly still from the middle and upper classes. Architects ranged from the pure full-time University-trained architect with a lot of knowledge of design but little practical experience to the part-time student or ex-building worker with a great deal of practical experience but less of a grasp of design issues.

There was also a solid structure of the traditional drawing office, often headed up by a senior draughtsman who was often in his 40’s or 50’s. They were the backbone of any office and had rarely been to collage to get any formal qualifications but had just worked for two or three decades in the job and so were tremendously experienced. They were thoroughly familiar with the whole design and building process from the initial planning application through to building the job and handing it over to the Client. They were the ones who actually taught us trainees the most. They supervised our drawing work, showed us how and what to draw, and were a fount of knowledge about any details, materials, or methods of construction. They took us out on site with them, taught us the rudiments of measured building surveys, taking site levels and doing chain surveys on new sites.

To be eligible to sit for the RIBA external exam one had to follow the required 3-year course of study called ‘The Testimonies of Study’ which consisted of three consecutive levels or ‘years’ of presentation drawings of increasing variety and complexity which demonstrated your growing level of expertise, the content of which I believe had been unchanged since the 1930s.

At the end of each year each part-time student had to submit a prescribed set of hand-drawn A1 sized drawings to the External Examinations Committee at the RIBA in London, and they would judge them as either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. If any of the drawings were marked ‘failed’ they had to be done again and resubmitted the next year. A student could not proceed to the 2nd year set of drawings until all the first-year drawings had been approved. For instance, my first year’s drawing submission, all on expensive watercolour paper, included a simple perspective drawing constructed from a plan, section and elevation, shadow projections onto various cones, cylinders, spheres, and a quotation in sans serif lettering, drawn freehand and tinted, and presented in a cardboard mount. Mine all passed the first time.

In theory a student could be ready to sit the external examination within three years. However, we were all working four days a week, attending school three evenings and one full day each week. There were the Testimonies of Study drawings to work on at home, which took up several hours a week, and in addition some of the students were married and had other calls on their time. Considering the occasional drawings that were failed the earliest the most dedicated student could be ready to sit the external examination was in five years, but usually it was at least seven. Often many students simply gave up as when wives and children came along, and all the studying and homework just became too much, and they settled for just being draughtsmen.

After achieving the RIBA intermediate exam, the next stage was to study for the final examinations which was in theory a two-year programme but which, for an external student, could take another 4 or 5 years. From the group of eighteen I started with in 1960 only three of us eventually qualified as Architects, one only completing the whole thing part time. Just I and one other were able to go full time for the final two years. I qualified as an architect in 1970 and I was the only one to go on and obtain a master’s degree in 1973.

The day-release course, as it was called, consisted of one day and three evening classes every week during the college term. The day session was from 9am to 5pm and the evening classes were from 7 to 9 pm. I was working at Winchester and my only transport was my bicycle. On a typical working day, I would leave home at Bishopstoke at 8-15 am to cycle the 7 miles to Winchester. At 5pm I would cycle the 7 miles back home, grab a quick bite to eat and then be on my bicycle again to cycle the six miles to the college at Southampton for my evening class and then back home by 9-30pm. Thursday was my day at college, and it was a long one, from 9am to 9pm. I would leave home at 8-15am to cycle the six miles to Southampton and I was rarely home before 9-30pm.

In my first year the Monday evening class was a two-hour session on calligraphy and free-hand lettering, the Wednesday class was one hour on the history of architecture and one hour on design, and the Thursday evening was one hour of structural design and calculations followed by one hour of building science and construction. During the day on Thursdays, we worked on our testimonies of study and in the late afternoon there was usually a one-hour lecture on some topic like law and professional practice.

In my first year I particularly remember the free hand lettering classes I attended, run my Miss Christenson, who showed us immaculate examples of her calligraphic skills on various presentation documents. I also first met Mr Joachim Hudek; a Polish architect in his 40’s who worked for Southampton City Architect’s Department. One evening a week he tried to teach us both about the History of Architecture and something about design. He became my mentor, encouraging a belief in me that I could eventually become an architect and eventually influencing me to give up work and part time education go full-time for the final two years before qualifying as an architect. He had a lasting influence in the development of my architectural career and sadly he died in an accident in his home in 1975.

The week I started the course in January 1960 the course co-ordinator gathered us all together and said things were about to change. He told us that at the 1957 Oxford Conference on the Future of Architectural Education, chaired by one Reginald Cave, Head of the Oxford Polytechnic School of Architecture (more of him later), had proposed that all existing part-time architectural courses should be closed down, and in future all entrants to architecture should have several specified ‘A’ levels and qualification would only be by attending a full time course of study at an approved University or Technical Collage for a Degree or a Diploma in Architecture. This had been accepted by the RIBA and it had started the process of closing all the part-time courses around the country.

From the ivory tower of the RIBA, it was calmly proposed that any existing office trainee draughtsmen who really wanted to be architect should consider going back to school and studying for the appropriate ‘A’ level exams and then apply for a suitable full-time college course. One or two of my fellow trainees were in their late teens and already married and at least one had children. We had all started work at sixteen because our parents could not afford to keep us at school, and now to give up our jobs and go back to school full time for ‘A’ levels was totally out of the question for us all.

However, our tutor said that after pressure from many regional architectural associations the RIBA had agreed to let the existing day-release courses carry on for another four or five years to let the existing students in the system take their Intermediate Exams. He also told us that the RIBA would not accept any new probationers onto part-time courses after Easter 1960 and so those who had not already submitted their applications should do so immediately. Thankfully, after submitting my exam results and testimonials to the RIBA and an anxious wait, I was by Easter finally accepted as an RIBA probationer and could start work on my Testimonies of Study- but it was not an auspicious start.

‘A’ levels exams were taken at eighteen which, for working class secondary school pupils, meant staying on at school for another two years. Also, very few secondary schools in the country were equipped to offer ‘A’ level exams which meant working class would-be architects had to find a local grammar school that would accept them for another two years. In addition, the full-time college course took a minimum of six years, including one year out in practice after the third year, so a would-be architect would be 23 or 24 before starting to earn a wage. The proposal neatly side-stepped the issue of how this extra 8 years of study would be remotely affordable to students from working-class backgrounds.

Although the stated aim of this change was to ‘raise the quality of architectural education and produce better architects’ the sub-text was clearly aimed at both controlling architectural education at the point of entry and ensuring that most entrants would be from either a professional or moneyed background. Students from working class backgrounds would find it extremely difficult to afford to study for another eight years while it would become impossible for anyone from the building trades to become an architect. In effect the profession was creating a ‘glass ceiling’ right at the point of entry.

At a stroke the diverse tributaries that historically had fed the river of architecture were to be cut off at source. Only people who were rich enough to afford for their children to stay on for the extra two years at school and then go onto full time education collages for many years could now become architects. By the 1980’s it was perfectly possible for a newly qualified architect to leave University in his mid or even late 20’s and start work in an office never having been on a building site, talked to builders or run a job.

An unintended consequence of this decision was to create a clear and steadily widening divide between architects and builders, office work and construction on site. Starting at 16 one was soon involved on various sites even just delivering drawings or going along with the Architect as a ‘gofer’. By the time you were 18 or 19 you would be allowed to design and run simple jobs or small extensions on site, although always with a senior draughtsman, associate or even a partner looking over your shoulder. In my case, at the age of twenty, I designed my first complete building under the close watchful eye of a partner for a site in St. Michael’s Square, Southampton. It was a block of flats and maisonettes for the Southampton City Council and In April 2012 it was still there, as I re-visited it on my 69th birthday.

In February 1963, in the middle of my second year on the course, the course tutor told us that he would be leaving at the end of the year as the RIBA had reneged on its promise to keep the part-time courses going for another four of five years and was closing it at the end of the summer term. This put all 18 of us in a spot, as there was no other day release course anywhere else in Hampshire and it would mean the end of any hope we had of qualifying and getting a better job and we would all be stuck with being draughtsmen.

The unfairness of this galvanised all eighteen of the students into getting together into an action group. I was elected chairman and got myself elected as student representative on the local Hampshire and Isle of Wight Architectural Association. We lobbied the partners of the practices we were working for in Southampton and Winchester in and put on a programme of events and evening lectures at the Southampton Building Centre to demonstrate that we were all really committed students and that our employers, who had already paid for our first year at college, would benefit by supporting our continued study.

By the end of the summer term, after intensive pressure and lobbying from the local practices the RIBA reluctantly agreed to let the Art College course carry on for another year or two for the present intake of eighteen students to complete their studies and be able to sit the RIBA Intermediate Exam for external students, providing that no other students were enrolled in the future. However, the Art School reneged on their commitment and closed the course at the end of the summer term of 1964. If I wanted to get to the point where I could take the RIBA Intermediate Exam as an external student, I had no option but to complete the last year of the course on my own. I was fortunate that one of the part-time tutors Yokim Hudek, had become a friend and he helped me with some tutoring in his own time.

The architectural course lecturers were all part-timers who were practicing architects. They would each come in for a one-hour lecture period in the evening on their speciality or for a whole morning an afternoon session to teach us some particular subject. There was one lecturer who was there for the whole day as the course tutor who was responsible for the overall co-ordination of the course and teaching us about design.

The co-ordinator for the years 1959-61 was a slim, rather intense blonde-haired architect in his 30’s architect from Bournemouth. He had set up in practice on his own and taught one day a week to supplement his income. For him there was no other architecture in the world worth considering except stripped-down modernism of the Scandinavian sort, so any design projects we did had to reflect this approach or else we knew he would mark it as a ‘‘failure’’.

For 1961-63 the co-ordinator was Maurice Hardstaff, a rather effete architect with a languid and world-weary manner. He was in his early 40’s with thinning light hair and an affected way of speaking in a soft drawling voice punctuated by many pauses while staring into the far distance. He smoked a pipe with aromatic tobacco, wore highly textured tailor- made tweed jackets in unusual (to us) colours and dark slim fit trousers with immaculate creases. He had apparently been an architectural lecturer at some London school of architecture before going to teach in Sweden for a year or two. He had just returned to England and the word was that he had accepted this job a full-time lecturer at this provincial Art Collage for one year as a stepping-stone to get back to a lecturer’s job in a London School of Architecture. Apart from the one day with us for the other four days he taught design and drawing classes to the art students.

Modern Swedish architecture was his touchstone, and he was particularly fond of single-story timber buildings. To get his nod of approval our designs had to have either flat or mono-pitched roofs be finished externally with stained timber boarding, have external raised planters integrated into the building form and the overall site filled with silver birch trees.

He did try to get us to think, particularly about designing groups of buildings in relation to each other and integrating landscaping into our designs. He played a key role in promoting a successful end of year joint design exhibition with other departments in the collage. Under his guidance we architectural students collaborated on coming up with an overall block plan for an integrated mixed redevelopment proposal for a part of Southampton adjacent to the city walls, near the docks.

The co-ordinating theme, of course, was low rise buildings, with the external timber cladding stained black. Each student was then allocated a building to develop the design of in detail. I remember I had to do the night-club, and even made a scale model of my proposal. It was square on plan, had an open central courtyard and a diagonal entrance on a corner approached by steps flanked with raised planters. From the other art collage departments, the painters, sculptors, plumbers, bricklayers, graphic designers and even clothes designers then collaborated with each of us to produce appropriate colour schemes, plumbing systems, or art works to for each building, including clothes for the people using the building. The result was very successful in terms of teaching us to work with other disciplines, but I am not sure that the timber design theme chosen was really appropriate for Southampton. However, the exhibition was written up and illustrated in the local paper, the Southampton Evening Echo. At the end of the academic year in 1963 he left and went back to London to work as a lecturer in a London college. (See 03.)

For the year 1964-65 the last co-ordinator and design tutor was Jack –whose last name I cannot remember- who was then a full-time lecturer at Portsmouth School of Architecture- and later its deputy head- and who travelled up to Southampton every Thursday day to teach us. He was in his late thirties, wore light brown corduroy jeans and jacket with desert boots, smoked a foul-smelling pipe and had bad teeth. He was a very laid-back casual person with an easy manner who would quietly encourage our design efforts by showing us examples illustrated in current architectural magazines of the latest buildings in the Scandinavian or International Modernist style. He was just holding the fort as by then we all knew that the writing was on the wall and the course was to be closed at the end of the summer term of 1964. (Note- By 1966 my mentor, Yokim Hudek, was a full-time lecturer at Portsmouth School of Architecture and Jack was the acting Head of department. Following my disastrous and abortive 5th year at Oxford Polytechnic from 1966 to 1967 Yokim recommended me to Jack in the summer of 1967 and who agreed to admit me as a full-time student to the 5th year at Portsmouth in the autumn of 1968).

Initially I was not a good student and at the end of the 1960 summer term my report back Mr Steptoe at Winchester earned me a good telling off from this normally mild-mannered man that made me feel bad. The problem was that a day off a week from work, in the totally new environment to most of us of a free-wheeling Art Collage, mixing with full-time students who included laid- back artists, sculptures, dress designers, and graphic designers, was a total culture shock to most of us working class lads. The girls especially, and there were plenty of them, wore ‘way out’ and ‘cool’ short and often very revealing clothes in the very latest fashions and, in the manner of the 1960’s, affected a casual and laid- back ‘with it’ attitude to life, college work and the college staff.

Most architects’ drawing offices of the time were places of strict timekeeping, an unspoken but rigid dress code, restrictions on casual conversations and an emphasis on keeping your head down over your drawing board and working all the time. Art students, by contrast, seemed to spend a lot of time avoiding classes and doing what they liked when they liked. They were hanging around in corridors talking, playing guitars, listening to ‘far out’ music, smoking a lot, and often seemed to be recovering from hangovers or looking forward to the next one. The lecturers too were so different from the schoolteachers we had known. Casually dressed and often on first name terms with the students they seemed to have either a very lax approach to class discipline and work or none. If you did the work they set, fine, but if you did not do it, that was your problem not theirs.

For the first time I was exposed to a vastly wider social circle than the one at Bishopstoke and Eastleigh. Students, whether full-time or part time, came from all over the area and were a complete cross section of the local society, from working class to upper middle class. At one end there were the down-to earth part-time working-class students training as plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, and electricians to earn a living through to the full-time graphic designers, clothes designers, sculptors, and artiste. Some of the full-time students were often only doing a particular course ‘because I fancied it’ or ‘for fun’ or ‘to put off the evil day of having to work for a living for as long as possible’ and had no particular career in mind, which was mind-set totally alien to us.

We had breaks in mid-morning and mid-afternoon, a one-hour lunch break and a two-hour break from the end of the afternoon class until the evening class started at 7pm. Much time was wasted during our day at the college in trying to chat up the girls in the break or lunch times but without much success. Dressed in our office clothes of jackets and trousers, white shirts and conservative ties and our hair cut short and neatly parted we stuck out as oddities in the laid-back world of the full-time student. Gradually the clothes we wore to college became increasingly informal until most of us eventually blended in with the others and, like the full-time students, we all started to skive off during the day. Mid-morning breaks got longer and longer, and lunch hours often stretched to two hours before we strolled back into the studio.

At lunch breaks we hung around the coffee bars in the city centre, the favourite being the sleazy Checkpoint café which was in the basement of one of the buildings surrounding a roundabout in the middle of which, isolated in solitary splendour, was The Bargate the original city gate to the old town in Norman times. At night the café was a popular rendezvous for ‘working girls’ to be picked up by their ‘clients’ and was kitted out in the latest modern style with Formica-topped tables and tubular metal chairs with plywood seats There we listened to the latest pop records on the juke box, drank our bottles of coke and unsuccessfully tried to chat up the secretaries on their lunch breaks and felt really grown-up, daring and ‘with it’ to be in such an obviously risqué environment.

One time the USS carrier Forrestal visited Southampton and its (allegedly) 5000 sailors were granted shore leave. The local paper reported that police were out in force at the railway station to turn back known prostitutes as train loads of ‘working girls’ came down from London. In the Checkpoint café you could hardly move at lunch time for the mass of skimpily dressed and over-perfumed women trying to pick up the cheerful American sailors in their white round hats, blue shirts, and dark trousers. On one occasion a man came in who I assumed was an officer as he wore a dark uniform with a peaked hat. He had pound notes sticking out all around his hat band and a roll of notes stuffed into his top pocket. He had a ‘girl’ on each arm and, after putting money in the Juke Box, he cleared a space on the floor and rock-and-rolled enthusiastically with both of them. We provincial lads looked on and marvelled.

In a split second a man, a piece of chalk and a blackboard changed my life for ever. It was in the autumn term of 1960, at the start of my second year at Southampton College of Art. Following my very poor school report at the end of my first year and deserved telling off by my boss the mild-mannered Mr Steptoe, I had tried to do better. I was punctual for evening classes, did not take extended lunch hours on my day at college and did not shab off early at the end of the afternoon session. I was still not really interested in the work but did enough to get by and started to get good pass marks.

However, there were still so many distractions for us rather up tight and impressionable working-class boys in the alien world of the Art College that it was really quite hard to concentrate. The full-time students sprawled around on top of the lockers that lined the corridors, dressed in ‘with it’ or ‘way out’ clothes, chain-smoking French (Gitane?) cigarettes and strumming guitars. They had a casual, almost dismissive approach to actually doing any work or attending lectures and spoke in a cool way about their laid-back lifestyle, their parties, who got hopelessly drunk, who was ‘laid’ by who and who was smoking ‘dope’.

One evening a week we had our first lecture on the History of Architecture, given by a funny looking, rather squat roly-poly little man, dressed in a dark suit and who was probably in his mid-40s. His grey hair had receded from his prominent forehead and was combed back and hung below his ears and with his rather benign smiling round face, precise movements and odd accent looked and sounded exactly like a cartoon image of a mad professor. He was a Polish architect named Yokim Hudek who worked at Southampton City architect’s department. No matter how we initially tried to take the piss out of him because of his funny accent and mannerisms he never reacted or lost his temper and eventually we started to listen to him.

One week he had asked us to do a free-hand sketch of any old building around where we lived or worked and bring it in the following week. I was really bad at free-hand sketching. I had never done any sketching and my effort, a medieval timber framed building in Winchester, was a mess of scored lines and rubbing out.

The next week we all had to lay our sketches out on the desk, and to a man they all ranged from bad to really terrible. With us all crowding around, he patiently went through each effort, some of which had clearly been done in a hurry at last minute and found something positive to say about each one. Most of us were shuffling our feet, glancing at each other behind his back and tried to look unconcerned and treat the whole thing as a bit of a joke.

When we returned to our seats, he then started to talk about how to sketch and how by constant practice we could get our eyes, brains and hands co-ordinated to draw exactly what we saw to scale and in perspective. We all stared back uncomprehendingly at him and, in the silence, a voice from the back said “Alright, sir! If it is that easy, show us how.”

Without a word he picked up a piece of chalk, turned his back to us and started to draw. We had been studying Greek architecture and, before my astonished gaze, right across the full width and height to the black board appeared the half the front elevation of The Parthenon, Athens, complete with all the columns, capitals, dentils, triglyphs and metopes- all (to my eyes) in perfect scale, proportion and in incredible detail. He then just turned around, put the chalk down on his desk and looked at us silently as we gaped back at him.

At that moment I felt a sort of a ‘boing” inside me, and I thought “Wow- I want to do that!” – And from that moment I was hooked. From then on, I started to really work and work at it and architecture became my obsession for the next 50 years. That man kick-started me and became my mentor. He encouraged me not only to believe that I could become a fully qualified architect but also, five years later, persuaded me that I should apply to go full-time to a proper school of architecture.


1. RIBA Testimonies of Study Drawings

Here are a few of my drawings I produced between 1960 and 63 in preparation for taking the Intermediate Examination.

Group one:

Group Two:

Michael ‘Stick’ Denett was one of our group of eighteen part-time architectural students at Southampton College of Art. He was always known as ‘Stick’, but I have no idea why. He was a trainee architectural draughtsman working in an office in Southampton and lived in the slightly up-market suburb of Chandlers Ford on the west side of Eastleigh. His father had some sort of white-collar job, so I suppose Stick could be described as lower middle-class, unlike the rest of us lads from blue-collar working-class homes.

Stick was dark haired of medium height, slightly built, neatly turned out and thought an awful lot of himself and, in the early 1960s, he usually dressed in what could be described as ‘Trad Jazz revival’ style. This was a cheque shirt, neatly knotted woven tie, a matt black V-necked jumper that extended to mid-thigh level, ‘slim-Jim’ black trousers, black socks and black ‘brothel-creeper’ shoes. He, like other followers of the British Trad Jazz scene, were fans of Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball and Chris Barber who they regarded as more refined and intellectual’ musicians in comparison with Rock and Roll bands and singers.

He had a sarcastic turn of phrase and would periodically use his ‘wit’ it against various students and at one break-time between classes he picked on me. I ignored his pointed remarks for some time until he came right up to me and, despite me asking him to stop it, carried on. He then made the mistake of pushing me and saying something like: “What are you going to do about it, then?”

I had had enough and, almost without thinking, grabbed hold of him intending to dump him on the floor. I had been studying Judo for a year or two and had never used it against anyone outside the club. My intention was to just do a simple leg sweep to his foot and, while still holding on, put him down without hurting him.

However, I misjudged my timing and got it wrong, just clipping his foot, enough to put him right off balance. He tore himself from my hold and staggered backwards across the classroom, knocking several desks out of the way, crashed into a waist-high ribbed radiator on the external wall and sat down heavily on the floor. I walked across the now silent classroom to him and, pointing my finger at his face and said to him that when I asked him to stop, I meant it.

I never had any bother with Stick from then on and the following week he came up to me, pulled up his jumper and showed me the lines of bruises on his back where he had hit the radiator.

Mayflower Park Waterfront Development, Southampton.

Our course tutor for 1963-64 for the part-time architectural course at the Art College, Southampton, was Maurice Hardstaff ARIBA; a quietly spoken greyish-fair haired Londoner who wore hairy tweed jackets in dark colours and bold patterns, stylish tapered trousers with immaculate creases, desert boots and who also smoked a curved pipe with highly aromatic herbal tobacco. He was the inspiration, project co-ordinator and driving force for this project which, uniquely, involved a broad range of departments at the College. The college not only catered for full-time students on various art courses but also part time students, trainee apprentices in the building industry. In retrospect it was the first and only time in my education or subsequent architectural career that I was involved in a project that included such a wide range of disciplines in the developing design process. Contributors ranged from plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, and plasterers through to sculptors, artists, graphic and dress designers; most of who were in their late teens or early twenties. Subsequently I have never heard of it being done in any other college at that time so, in retrospect, it was very cutting-edge. Although it is probably different today (2020) back then in the 60s, 70s or even 1980s departments in places of further education appeared to operate as totally independent units within a particular college. Students from each discipline might mix in coffee or lunch breaks- or hang out, party, or get drunk together- but there was no official interaction or cross-fertilisation between the departments in the education process. So, such an integrated, co-ordinated design exercise was highly unusual which I am sure that none of the participants including me, then aged twenty, was even aware of.

In the post-war world of the 1950s and 60s there were increasing concerns expressed about the vast increase in car ownership and the long-term effects on communities. From the early 1950s, reconstructing the bomb-damaged Town and City centres, various ways to separate people from cars were explored. These ranged from pedestrianizing existing streets; building new pedestrian precinct shopping centres; restricting car parking to the perimeter of developments; ‘finger plan’ schemes where traffic was restricted to cul-de-sacs in the middle of the fingers of developments with pedestrianised green spaces in between; upper level pedestrian walkways; concrete deck developments built above ground level roads and traffic and, in one case, the theoretical MOTOPIA proposal of 1959, the design envisaged the cars driving along the rooftops of ‘squares ‘of housing, with the central ground floor areas landscaped and pedestrianised. (Photo of the MOTOPIA model: Edward Mills Architect, Geoffrey Jellicoe Landscape Architect and Ove Arup Engineers.)

The site selected for our design project in Southampton was Mayflower Park, a waterfront site with views out over the tidal reaches of the River Test. It was on reclaimed land below but adjacent to the higher ground of the old walled City centre; separated from it by the Pier Road which curved around the line of the old city walls before turning into Western Esplanade. As the crow flies it is a few hundred yards southwest of St Michael’s Square in the heart of the historic walled City.

The southwest facing park abuts Southampton Docks on the northwest side and the Town Quay and Isle of Wight ferry terminal on the southeast side. it was built in the 1930s on land reclaimed from the mud flats and was originally known as the Royal Pier Recreation Ground. In the early 1950s a promenade and children’s play area were constructed, and in 1955 the area was renovated, the car park made smaller, and the name changed to Mayflower Park. By the early 1960s, the council had laid 6,000 tons of topsoil to provide grass areas and to establish a putting green.

Mayflower Park Site.

Centuries ago, the sea came up to the old city walls and one of the principal aims was to re-establish a direct pedestrian connection between it and the waterfront by having a two-story high deck by the old city wall line to bridge Pier Road which then cascading down in a series of landscaped decks to ground level at the waterfront. Parking was to be underneath and on the landscaped pedestrian deck there would be built a series of buildings, each to be individually designed by an architectural student. These were: Covered Market (R.I Mack, 2nd year); Art Gallery ( J. H. Steele, 2nd year); Yacht Club (R. J. Walter, 2nd Year); Old Person’s Home (A. S. George, 3rd year); Public House (M.G. Gulliver, 3rd year); Nightclub (D. C. King, 3rd year); Seaman’s Hotel (J. R. Broome, 4th year); Apartment Hotel (C. E. Oliver, 3rd year); Sports Centre (D. H. Lawton, 5th year); Clinic (D. L. Lloyd, 2nd year); Services Buildings ( J. M. Tanner, 2nd year); Church (D. E. M. Dance, 2nd year); Service Station (A. R Ward, 2nd year), and an Artist’s Studios designed by a group of 1st year students. (F. A. Ward, M.A. Hanks, D. Miles, I. Glennnie, M.P. Bellwood, W. Miadowicz, Miss N. Harding., N. Craggs, R.W. Smith, J. Parnell, and Miss M. Downward.)

Headlines in the Southampton Evening Echo.

The ‘maritime’ aesthetic adopted for the design of the individual buildings was that of flat roofed structures with walls of a mixture of timber construction finished with black-stained lap boarding, silver grey brickwork and white painted rendered blockwork. Each individual building was designed by a third – or second-year student, while the artist’s studios and the model of the whole development was a first group year project for eleven students. In the several weeks leading up to the development of the overall concept and the design of the individual buildings there was advice from trainee plumbers, electricians, carpenters and bricklayers about sanitation and drainage, internal and external lighting and building construction. Meanwhile each building was assigned an artist and sculptor who, in conjunction with the building designer, each developed an appropriate piece of sculpture and either a painting or mural for a specific place, either internally or externally, for each building so that each finished piece would be fully integrated into the final design. At the same time there were contributions from the graphic designers on signage; the Fabric Collage section on an altar backcloth for the church and the Dress Section on their designs for a selection of hats, garments and accessories that would be appropriate to wear in this new, ultra-modern ‘swinging sixties’ development.

Each architectural student produced coloured plans, sections, and elevations plus a model of his or her building and all this work culminated in a successful Waterfront Development Project Exhibition at the end of the summer term in 1964. It was mounted at The Design Centre in the Southern Counties Building in Grosvenor Square, Southampton and the two-week exhibition was opened by Mr Leon Berger, the City Architect,

I designed the Nightclub, which was located on the deck overlooking the water, shown in the centre front of the model photograph above. It was designed on a series of ascending planes; entry being gained from either the deck level or from the car park underneath the platform. The basement level consists of a dining area and dance floor with a glazed corner terrace, plus the kitchen, servery, stores, and toilet accommodation. The first floor, which is mostly for dining has a servery, toilets and the manager’s office is built around a central glazed courtyard that can opened for either dining outside or dancing. There are also two outside terraces that can be booked for private functions and, on the third floor, is the manager’s ‘L’ shaped flat.

My sculptor produced a metal design consisting of vertical narrow of interlocking rusted metal plates, to reflect the maritime aesthetic of the rusting steel hulls of ships, to be hung on the top corner of the rendered wall at the bottom of the flight of steps. (See photo immediately above.) Unfortunately, I have no photos of his finished piece.

APPENDIX: From the Exhibition brochure:

A. ARCHITECTURAL SECTION- under the direction of the project co-ordinator Maurice Hardstaff ARIBA.

Each scholastic year is organised in two major parts: one in which the requisite testimonies of study are prepared for submission to the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the other in which all years engage in group projects, involving where possible, students from other departments at the College, to mutual awareness and stimulation.

The area in or near the ancient walled town presented a challenge, and, bearing in mind the old walls were once washed by the sea, an open space within the walls and near the west gate was selected as an appropriate point from which a deck, two storeys above general ground level, could be extended over the adjacent main road onto the site of Mayflower Park and until it reached the water.

The area has been developed in such a way as to attract visitors and to provide the public generally with an open area near the water. The buildings therefore are either those providing residential accommodation for sport such as the yacht club, or commercial buildings such as shops and a covered market. An art gallery and church are also included to balance the secular, artistic and the ecclesiastical. Under the deck the present railway line would still run, and a two-storey car park and vehicular access are provided to the buildings extending above the decks. Traffic and pedestrians would be separated to mutual advantage.

The initial discipline is that contained in the philosophy ‘less is more’ (of the German architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe). A sphere contains the minimum periphery to maximum volume. Translated into brick and timber construction, this results in a cube, or variants upon this form, as indicated by the functional necessities of the individual building.

The initial concept is extended and used in the correlated art forms. Counterpoint is achieved by placing the buildings empirically on the stepped deck. The majority of the buildings are moved to the extremities of the platform to integrate the buildings and deck into one sculpturally homogeneous mass; an idea which was extracted from observation of the historic buildings built into the old city wall. The buildings are designed to be seen in the round, designed with no accentuated façade. The colour of the of the structural materials is limited to the range white to black, bold colours being restricted to signs, furnishings and fabrics or paintings. A district heating scheme would provide heating and hot water to the project.

B. SCULPTURE SECTION – Under the direction of William Rendell ATD.

The sculpture shown at this exhibition is the result of many weeks of work, both at college and at home, by junior and senior students. A great deal of discussion was necessary between students studying architecture and those studying sculpture; sometimes this was formal but frequently it was carried on informally in the student’s own time. This exchange of ideas has given each a valuable insight into the other’s field of study. When the project was initially discussed, it was generally agreed that abstract sculpture would be more satisfactorily compliment the buildings than would figurative sculpture, and since our age is dominated by scientific thought, abstract art- fundamentally a striving to find an aesthetic way- reflects this. The following students have produced sculpture for the project:

Christopher Renty, Paul Bevan, Miss Yvonne Cotton, David Dragon, Philip Monk, Miss Jennifer Ings, Miss Mar Vickers, Miss Susan Rigg, Christopher Surrey and John Hamon.

C. MURAL PAINTING – under the direction of David Richards ATD.

The basic problem confronting the mural designers has been that of producing murals which are sensitive of the ‘idea’ behind the scheme. The single wall mural was rejected as belonging to a different type of architecture, and attempts have been made to re-think the usual two-dimensional result and to produce suggestions which involve more than two planes.

The following students have produced work for the project:

Miss Catherine Donnellan, Miss Celia Wood, Miss Kathleen Thomson, Miss Christine Jones, Bernard Guy, Christopher Surrey, and Miss Barbara Dore.

D. DRESS SECTION – under the direction of Angela Corello NDD.

A selection of hats, garments and accessories furnish a boutique which is included in the project. Student’s work will be modelled during the second week of the exhibition.

The following students have contributed work:

Miss Phillipa Billington, Miss Corina Stuart-Beck, Miss Teresa Jajszczwk, Miss Sally Harrington, Miss Margaret Ms Alistair, and Brian Cox.

E. FABRIC COLLAGE SECTION – under the direction of Maureen Helsdon ATD.

The alter backcloth to the Church of St Nicholas- patron Saint of Sailors- is designed in a square format and contains four square panels, the colour sequence symbolises the four seasons and Christ, St Nicholas, a sun, and a star respectively are used, in the composition. The students who produced the work are: Miss Elizabeth Allum and Mrs Joyce Head.

F. GRAPHIC DESIGN – under the direction of Roger Pursey NDD.

The catalogue, invitation card and exhibition generally were arranged in this department, and the printing was produced in the college under the direction of J. E. Reeve-Fowkes.

Trevor and the Art School Ball.

Southampton College of Art had an annual student’s ball and one particular year, possibly 1963 or 4, it was held in a venue on the pier in Southampton Docks and the theme was ‘Ghouls and Ghosts’. The full-time students, especially those studying dressmaking or art, vied with each other to produce the most daring and outrageous costumes plus the most original make-up and hair do’s. And the swinging 60s was an increasingly daring and outrageous time in social attitudes, dress, styles, and codes (or not) of conduct plus pressing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. There was much talk and excitement at the school, plus discussion and suggestions at the impromptu viewing of the art schoolgirls’ colourful, often very skimpy and seemingly see-through costumes as work progressed in their various studios.

We part-time students were more conservative in our approach, and I decided to go as a demon undertaker. I got together a complete black outfit – shoes, socks, trousers, shirt, tie, gloves, and woollen jumper, but lacked a hat. Fortunately, in Bishopstoke, a neighbour in a nearby road was an undertaker. I went to him, and he kindly lent me a slightly battered black top hat and a length of black gauze-like material to wrap around it like a scarf and dangle down the back. With my face powdered dead white I was ready for the off and set off for Southampton on the bus. With one change, at Eastleigh bus station, it took more than half an hour to get to Southampton bus station and I got some rather curious looks from fellow passengers’ en-route.

From Southampton bus station it was about a twenty-minute walk across West Park, down Above Bar Street- the main shopping street of the city; past the Bargate- the Norman-built gatehouse in the old City walls- down the High Street through the middle of the original fortified old city; past St Michael’s Square to the docks and the venue on the pier. As I walked along that early evening, I became far less conspicuous, even innocuous, as I became part of a growing throng of increasingly weirdly dressed people, all capering about noisily and clearly all out to have fun and a good time.

The dance floor at the venue had a large rotating ball dangling from the high ceiling, covered with tiny squares of mirror glass. Changing coloured lights shone on this as to revolved, sending small beams of lights dancing over the dense throng of students, all in fancy dress, gyrating below to the pounding beat of the deafening music. The roar of noise was deafening as the students gradually got pissed out of their minds and, now and again, there was more than a whiff of ‘grass’ floating in the increasingly hot, humid air as the evening wore on. As the evening turned towards the morning there were many students of both sexes wobbling and staggering about and many more slumped almost comatose in chairs or against the walls.

The lighting elsewhere was also very dim- possibly to accentuate the Ghost and Ghoul atmosphere. At one point I went to the toilets and on entering the dimly lighted room it appeared to be (unusually) totally empty, with not even anybody being sick down the toilets. Directly in front of me were the urinals lined up along one side of the white-painted walls: some cubicles to the left and a line of wash basins to my right. As I stepped forward, I had a really nasty shock as, seemingly from nowhere, a figure appeared to materialise from the right hand corner. It was a student got up as a ghost; completely dressed in a drab white, form fitting muslin-like outfit. He had been leaning against the wall in the corner, between the urinals and the washbasins and, with the dim lighting, was almost completely invisible.

As I have said, we part-time architectural trainee draughtsmen were quite a conservative bunch, as our respective offices all had very strict rather formal dress codes and we were all expected to be neatly dressed at all times. For instance, even in the hottest weather we were always expected to wear rather formal shirts with a tie- open-neck or short-sleeve shirts were totally unacceptable.

The star of our group at the ball was a man named Trevor. He was a cheerful, good-natured, well-built fellow, over six feet tall and possibly weighing over sixteen stone, with a shock of unruly black hair, bushy black eyebrows and a ruddy face and a big grin. He looked more like a farmer than a trainee draughtsman. Trevor lived and worked in Winchester and had an identical twin brother that had joined the police force.

Trevor was naturally outrageous personality and for this student ball he really excelled himself. He got his brother to swath him from head to foot in layers of bandages, so that only his nose and eyes were visible. He painted or powdered his face a flat white and put pitch-black eyeshadow around his eye-sockets, with a painted trickle of red ‘blood’ coming out of the corner of each eye. He had then dabbed on splodges of red dye over his bandaged body and legs; but the finishing touch was his arm.

He had gone to his local butcher and got a two-foot-long bone, possibly from a cow, which still had some tiny bits of meat on it. He then bound his left arm behind his back, underneath the bandages, and attached the bone with wire to his left shoulder, so it dangled and swung below his bandaged shoulder. He completed the picture by walking with an exaggerated limp. Dressed like this he caught the train from Winchester to Southampton and, he said, he had a big seat all to himself as people took one look at him and sat well away. At Southampton he walked from the station down to the waterfront, hamming up his exaggerated limp the whole way. He looked both quite a formidable and unsettling sight.

A really splendid evening and there must have been some memorable hangovers the next day.

05. Italy by Road.

In the spring of 1963, aged 20, I and some friends went to the local cinema in Eastleigh and saw the latest Cliff Richard film, the box-office smash hit ‘Summer Holiday’, first shown in London on the 10th of January. The story concerns Don (Cliff Richard) and his friends (Melvyn Hayes, Teddy Green, and Jeremy Bulloch) who are bus mechanics at the huge London Transport bus overhaul works in Aldenham, Hertfordshire. During a miserably wet British summer lunch break, Don arrives, having persuaded London Transport to lend him and his friends a double-decker bus which they convert into a holiday caravan. They drive it across Europe via the south of France to their eventual destination of Athens, Greece. On the way, they are joined by a trio of young women (Una Stubbs, Pamela Hart, and Jacqueline Daryl), and a runaway singer (Lauri Peters) pretending to be male, herself being pursued by her mother (Madge Ryan) and agent (Lionel Murton). There were lots of adventures on the way and the brilliantly colourful photography of people, places and buildings place I had never seen really fired up my imagination.

The following Thursday, at my part-time day release architectural course at the Art College in Southampton, I suggested to my fellow students that there was no reason why we couldn’t do the same; and there was an enthusiastic response from several of them who had also seen the film. I had already done a bit of research and told them that it was possible to get a car ferry from Southampton to Cherbourg, drive across France to Switzerland and down through Italy to its ‘heel’ where, at a place called Brindisi, we could catch a car ferry to Greece and so on to Athens. I sketched out that, en route, we may have the chance to visit places like Lausanne, Florence, Rome, and Naples and that (very optimistically) the trip should only take two weeks; our annual holiday allowance.

We needed six to cover the costs and I soon had Peter Ward, Chris Oliver, and Miadowicz, whose first name I have forgotten, plus, he said, his polish girlfriend Carol, also signed up. We were still one short but the next day at work Peter said he had talked over the idea at home with their student lodger, Ian, and he wanted to come as well. As both Peter and Chris were experienced motorists, they both agreed to be the named drivers on the insurance.

A friend at work, Mike Downer, who was not only a very experienced driver but who had also competed in local hill-climb events in his two-seater self-build sports car and had also actually driven on the continent, was extremely helpful. He worked out a possible route for us and the mileage to establish fuel costs, plus a bit extra for anything like topping up oil etc. So, based on a lot of guesswork, we worked out a preliminary budget which, divided by six; showing what each of us would have to contribute. As none of us had the ready money for the trip we agreed to save for it over the next year with the aim of setting off sometime in August 1964. We set up a post-office account in Peter Ward’s name and every week we all gave him an agreed amount of money to put into it.

By Easter 1964 I had located a vehicle that would be suitable for our trip from someone I knew who ran a small garage, car hire and second-hand car dealership on the outskirts of Southampton as his price for the two weeks hire, plus continental insurance for two named drivers was (just) affordable on our limited budget. The vehicle looked clean and tidy, and he assured me that, although the van had done a lot of miles, he had serviced it completely and it was in tip-top condition. It was a light blue Commer van that was several years old that had been converted for passenger use, with windows in the sides and additional seats in the back to carry a total of seven people. Access to the rear was via a door in the nearside of the vehicle and a pair of doors at the back. Just inside, to the right of the rear nearside side door, a single seat had been bolted to the floor on both sides of the vehicle. This left a gap in the middle giving access to a bench seat behind, which went the full width of the vehicle. Behind the rear seats there was enough space (just) for our luggage and our camping equipment. I paid a deposit for hiring the van, with the balance to be paid two weeks before we collected it; giving him time to check the vehicle over and ensure it was properly taxed and insured for two name drivers and filled with petrol. On our return we could either pay him for the petrol or return it with the tank full, which seemed fair enough. Everything went as planned and by mid-July we had collected enough money and were ready to confirm our booking on the car ferry and pay the balance of the vehicle hire fee.

Then we had our first problem. Peter Ward was, like me, an architectural assistant at Gutteridge and Gutteridge, architects, of Portswood, Southampton. On the Monday morning, at tea break, he told me that he would not be able to come on the trip and wanted his money back. I rapidly made phone calls to the other students at their offices in and around Southampton and discovered that none of us individually or even collectively had enough money to cover Peter’s share. It looked as if we were stuck, and the Athens trip was off. At that time Peter worked in what was called the front office, overlooking Westwood Road with several other people and I worked in a two-person room out the back, which I shared with Mike Downer. I was feeling pissed off about the cancellation of the trip that we had all worked so hard to make happen and Mike asked me what was wrong. I told him and he asked me how much Peter’s contribution was. I told him and, after a pause, he quietly said that he had got to know so much about the intended trip when working out our route that he would like to come with us and that his younger brother Richard would probably like to come to. He rang his brother, who worked in a local bank, who confirmed he would like to come, assuming I and the others would have both of them. Both Mike and Richard had enough money to pay cash for their share of expenses, which would also reduce the overall expenses for everyone. Would I! I nearly bit his hand off! A rapid phone call by me to all the others; Mike and Richard were in, and the trip saved.

In Mike we had got a car enthusiast who, with his brother, had built his own hill-climb car from scratch and raced it and was, as I knew from being a passenger in his racy mini car, a first-class driver. Mike Downer was a very shy, retiring bloke and when I asked him why he had not asked me before if he could join us, knowing that the vehicle was a seven-seater but there were only six of us? He just said that he did not want to push himself forward and possibly put us in the awkward position of having to say no, and he knew his brother would have liked to come on the trip and would not have liked to have gone without him. So, like Mike- he was, and I hope still is in 2020, the salt of the earth.

On the weekend of the 15th of August on a fine sunny day all seven of us were on the car ferry and sailing for Cherbourg, France and, after an uneventful six-hour crossing, by late afternoon we had landed. We were abroad and were finally on the road to Athens. Lots of cheerful badinage, jokes and laughs all round. None of us could speak a word of French or Italian but Hey! Ho! We had phrase books and youthful enthusiastic optimism. We were young, had two weeks holiday in foreign parts in front of us, money in our pockets and possible adventures ahead. What could possibly go wrong?

On the route that Mike had rapidly refined we first headed across France heading for the Roman town of Bourges; Three hundred and thirty miles and some six hours driving away. Mike, who had also done some amateur rally driving, said we must press on across France, with no stops, to get to Italy as soon as possible as overall we had a lot of miles to cover. Mike drove the first hour out of Cherbourg and changed over with Chris Oliver every hour. One of us sat in the front navigating while the ‘off’ driver rested in the back. By the fourth hour the weather had turned against us, thunder clouds had turned the evening dark, it was slashing with rain, driving was difficult- and Chris’s driving was an increasing cause of concern.

Chris was a tall, shambling fellow with the ruddy look of a countryman about him and a shock of quite long unruly dark, side-parted hair that kept flopping down over his forehead. At work and at college he usually wore a white shirt with a tie and crumpled grey flannel suit that looked as if he slept in it. He was a cheerful, good natured lovely chap but – we discovered that he was a truly terrible driver. On straight roads he drove too slowly, on narrow or winding roads too fast and in the wrong gear. He could not stay on the proper side of the road but kept wandering off onto the wrong side, despite our constant shouts. We had several narrow squeaks with oncoming traffic and there were increasing cries of alarm from those in the back and shrieks from Miadowicz’s girlfriend. At the end of his second hour, in which I had been navigating, we stopped by the side of the road to change drivers. Ian asked me to step outside as he wanted to say something. He said that Miadowicz’s girlfriend was terrified and the rest of them had agreed that they would not go another mile in the vehicle if Chris was driving. Mike had said he was more than happy to do all the driving and they had agreed that as I had organised the trip it was up to me to speak to Chris.

That was a bit of a facer. So, at about 10pm, in the dark and in the rain, I asked Chris to walk up the road with me and had to tell him the bad news as best I could, to give him credit he took it on the chin in his usual affable way and said he was quite happy to go along with what the rest of us wanted. So, from then on Mike did all the driving and was absolutely excellent. He said to me later that he actually preferred driving to being a passenger in a car and, because of his rally experience, had no trouble in driving for hours on end as long as he got adequate short rests at regular intervals. So that is what we did. The man was a star.

After the next couple of hours, about midnight and somewhere near Bourges, we stopped on a dark country road for a rest and a brew-up of tea and coffee on our portable camping gas stove before settling down in our sleeping bags on the seats for the rest of the night. It had stopped raining, and it was a fine, starry night and Mike was outside having a breath of fresh air and a smoke. I joined him and he said that he had some concerns about the way the Commer was handling, as the steering did not seem quite precise, but he would check it out sometime tomorrow.

BOURGES. The day dawned bright and sunny and were in the suburbs of Bourges before 9am and soon found a French café for a breakfast of excellent coffee and croissants. Afterwards we decided to drive through Bourges to at least pass by its impressive Gothic cathedral. The centre of the town is built on a bit of a hill, and I was navigating as Mike drove us slowly and carefully down the narrow, sloping main street of the old medieval town. About 50 yards in front of us was a stationary rather battered van that was signalling to turn left. Mike started to brake and then, out of the corner of my eye, I was aware of his foot pumping madly up and down as the stationary van in front got nearer and nearer before Mike grabbed at the handbrake and frantically hauled on it. We nearly stopped, but not quite, and with a bit of a thump we hit the offside corner of the van.

Consternation all round; we really thought we were in trouble We all got out and joined the overall-clad workman, with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, who had hopped out of his van and was inspecting the damage to the rear corner his vehicle; a couple of minor dents. In dumb show we tried to explain that tour brakes had failed and that we were sorry. He looked at us and then in a very French accent said, “English students?” and when we nodded, he unexpectedly roared with laughter, pointed to all the other dents on his van, gave a great shrug of his shoulders, shook our hands, got back into his van, waved goodbye and drove off. Phew!

We were stuck. Driving very slowly and carefully, and only using the handbrake, Mike drove us back out to the suburbs, and we parked up on a wide tree-lined verge. Luckily the van had a reasonable tool kit and we jacked up the front of the van and took one of the wheels off. Mike took one look and said the brake cylinder was all caked up and had jammed shut which was why the brakes had failed. None of us had a clue what to do, but Mike and Richard did. They gave us a list of some basic stuff to get and sent us off in search of a local shop that sold car accessories, which luckily, we found. They set to work but shortly Mike said that the vehicle was in a far worse state than we had thought and quite clearly it had not been serviced or maintained properly for a long time. Mike and Richard would not be happy in carrying on in the van, so they had no choice work on it and do their best to get it roadworthy. We all booked into some local bed and breakfast- which really dented our holiday budget- and for the next two days Mike and Richard completely serviced the vehicle; including bleeding the brakes, changing the spark plugs, oils and topping up all the fluids, and tightening things up, including the steering; with all the bits costing us about £10. We had not only lost two whole days from our schedule but had also spent travelling money that we had not budgeted for.

The next morning, we were back on the road very early. The van sounded a lot better; Mike was happy with the way it handled, and we were heading for Switzerland. Over the previous two days we had thrashed out an alternative itinerary and, reluctantly, we had voted to abandon getting to Athens as being too ambitious. It was agreed to concentrate on getting to Italy and visiting Ravenna, Venice, Florence, and Pisa before heading back to England. The money we saved in not having to buy the ferry ticket to Greece and the less money on petrol would offset what we had spent on accommodation and spares for the van. And we could now do the trip at a more leisurely pace with stops, which would be a lot less tiring driving for Mike as the sole driver.

LAUSANNE. So that is what we did, and our next stop was two hundred and seventy-five miles away in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the Swiss national exposition of 1964, Expo 64, was being held. We got there by early afternoon we spent a few hours exploring and admiring the extraordinary modern exhibition buildings, exhibits and attractions. It was the first time I had seen a monorail, the transport of the future. There were modern buildings, tented structures, a sunken children’s playground, and modernistic sculptures all laid out in a new complex by the shore of Lake Geneva.

We had decided not to stay in Lausanne but to push on for Padua, via Verona, in Italy, driving through the night if necessary. By late afternoon we were back on the road driving through the magnificent Swiss scenery. I was navigating and as we drove through a small Swiss village, we saw a zebra crossing and an elderly man waiting to cross, so Mike slowed up and stopped. The man crossed the road then turned, raised his hat, and said, “Thank you”. Through the open window I said, “How did you know we were English?” “Easy” he replied, “English drivers are the only ones who stop at pedestrian crossings!”

It was three hundred miles to Verona, Italy and it was rather a hair-raising overnight drive through the awe-inspiring Alps over the 6,150 feet high Simplon Pass, and we finally arrived early the next morning at the campsite where we booked in for one night. Our revised plan was to drive down the east coast of Italy, to Venice and Ravenna, before turning west to Florence and Pisa; then driving around the coast to Monaco, then across France back to Cherbourg and the ferry back to Southampton.

VERONA. It became part of the expanding Roman Empire in 300 BC and became important because it was the first big town at the intersection of several roads from northern or eastern Europe leading to Rome, Verona was besieged and conquered many times by the barbarians who flocked into the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire and because of its strategic importance, it became an important fortified centre.

During the Middle Ages Verona again became prosperous; trade and commerce were revived, and both architecture and art soon followed. This is when the tradition of painting the exterior façades of common houses started, marking the beginning of a decorative journey that, centuries later, made Verona one of the most painted cities in Italy which, during the Renaissance, earned it the nickname of Urbs Picta (painted city).We spent a day wandering around the old medieval centre and visited Verona Cathedral, built in AD 1187, and the remains of the Roman amphitheatre that was built in AD 100 and is located in the heart of the town. It is one of the best-preserved structures of its kind and had seating for nearly 30,000 people.

VENICE. It was a short seventy-mile drive to Venice where we booked in on a campsite by the town of Mestre on the mainland, from where a road and rail causeway stretched out across the lagoon to Venice. It was late in the evening when we had finally set up camp and we were all keen to see Venice. So, we all piled back into the van and drove across the causeway; parked up somewhere near the railway station and walked off into the amazing labyrinth of pedestrian streets and alleys of the island City. It was quite dark but everywhere seemed to be blazing with lights, especially St Mark’s Square; all the shops and restaurants were open and there were crowds of people milling about.

Walking around Venice for a couple of hours at night is a magical experience. No sound of traffic- just the sound of lapping water; the clatter of people’s shoes; voices, someone laughing; the faint sound of sea birds; a cat yowling or a distant ‘put-put’ of an outboard motor. It must have been nearly midnight when we found ourselves back at the Rialto Bridge. We all realised that we were hungry and looked for somewhere to get something to eat. However, by then, most of the places were closed for the night but we eventually found a tiny local convenience shop, squeezed in between larger buildings, that was still open. All they had in the way of food was a bunch of bananas and to drink we bought a bottle of sweet white Vermouth wine. At midnight we were all sitting on some stone steps on the Grand Canal, alongside the Rialto Bridge, and eating bananas and passing the bottle of Vermouth between us, a magic memory. The Vermouth tasted vile; it smelt and tasted like a particularly pungent perfume, and I have never been able to drink it again.

The next day we were back in Venice and spent the whole day wandering about as fancy took us, stopping every so often for a coffee or beer at one of the many cafes. Sitting at a small café table in the street, sipping a cooling beer and watching the world go by is one of the basic pleasures of life. There is so much to see in Venice: the magnificent Gothic Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Square, the Rialto bridge in daylight, St Mark’s Basilica, the Golden House, the Bridge of Sighs, plus all the churches, the palazzos lining the Grand Canal and, of course, the art collections. Everywhere you look is a visual feast and during our brief day there we only saw a fraction of this magical place. Napoleon is credited with having remarked that “St Mark’s Square is the finest Drawing Room in Europe.”

RAVENNA. Our next stop was ninety miles south where, on the 22nd of August, we pitched our tents at a wooded campsite. They had basic but decent facilities there, so we were all able to clean up, get a decent shower and wash some clothes. The next day we visited the Basilica San Vitale; a stunning early Byzantine cathedral adorned with the most magnificent mosaics. The 6th century church is an important surviving example of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture. The church has an octagonal plan. The building combines Roman elements: the dome, shape of doorways, and stepped towers; with Byzantine elements: Polygonal apses, capitals, narrow bricks, and an early example of flying buttresses. The church is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics; the largest and best preserved outside of Constantinople. The church is of extreme importance in Byzantine art as it is the only major church from the period of the Emperor Justinian I to survive virtually intact to the present day.

I was really taken by the church, not only its almost sculptural feeling outside but also for its stunning interiors, where every wall and ceiling is almost overwhelmingly covered with brilliant and richly coloured mosaics.

All the mosaics are executed in the Hellenistic-Roman tradition; with vivid and almost life-like pictures of the landscape, plants, and birds with many almost life-like male and female figures. I spent two or three hours looking around this extraordinary building and when I got back home, I found out a lot more about it. A year later my visit there paid off when I sat for the Royal Institute of British Architects Intermediate exam in London as San Vitale came up as a question in the history of architecture paper.

We also visited The Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo which is a basilica church erected by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great as his palace chapel during the first quarter of the 6th century. It was re-consecrated in 561 AD, under the rule of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. On each side of the nave is an aisle behind a row of columned arches, supporting the wall above which is lined with a row of seemingly identical religious figures. They all have rather staring eyes and, walking down the nave, it felt as if all the eyes were following me.

FLORENCE. The next day we, or rather Mike, drove the eighty-eight miles across the central spine of mountains that run down the spine of Italy to reach Florence. The road was particularly challenging to drive, with hairpin bends, blind corners, sheer drops to the valleys below, few safety barriers and, of course, coping with the suicidal, care-free way the Italians drive their cars and lorries.

At Florence we found a small campsite on the south side of the river Arno, on a hillside almost overlooking the Ponte Vecchio and within walking distance of the old city centre on the other side of the river. Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Renaissance and has been called “the Athens of the Middle-Ages”.

At college we were taught History of Architecture by Joachim Hudek, who was particularly knowledgeable about the buildings of Florence as he said he had served in Italy during the war, and there were several illustrations of the buildings there in our course book ‘History of Architecture’ by Bannister Fletcher (I still have my copy from 1960). Joachim gave us a list of buildings and places that we should try and see. It included the Boboli Gardens, the Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti and Uffizi palaces, the Foundling Hospital and the ‘must see’ seventeen-foot-high statue of David (a replica) by Michelangelo, Florence Cathedral and Baptistery. In our all too short stay we managed to see most of them. Florence Cathedral was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436. The dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and was, when it was completed, the largest dome in the world. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white. The doors of the adjacent baptistery were particularly memorable with its panels of almost three-dimensional figures covered in gold leaf. There was so much to see and on our short visit we really did not have enough time to really appreciate Florence; it is a place to go back to and explore at leisure for at least a week.

PISA. Our next stop was a short eighty-mile drive west to Pisa where we visited the medieval cathedral and its famous leaning tower. We could get to its many upper levels of the circular tower by an internal staircase, and then walk (carefully) externally around each level on a narrow, arcaded walkway. At each level I saw the external wall of the central drum was covered with graffiti- scribbled messages and a few drawings- all in various foreign languages. I suppose the continental equivalent of ‘Kilroy was here’ or similar. At the top level, as I walked clockwise around the outside, I came upon what appeared to be a young priest, wearing a black round hat with a broad brim, a full-length black cassock, and black shoes. He was concentrating hard while writing something on the wall. On seeing me he sort of gave a guilty start, put his pen back in his pocket, and rapidly disappeared inside and off down the interior stair. I looked at what he had written but it was in Italian. I wonder what he actually wrote.

MONACO. The next stage was a memorable two-hundred-mile drive around the coastal road to Monaco, with fantastic scenery, blue seas, sky, and hot sunshine. The (fabled) Monte Carlo was a bit of a disappointment. It was a very small place with very narrow twisting streets. It all looked rather tired and run-down and hardly the playground of rich people, celebrities, American film stars and European aristocracy of the cinema screen and our imagination.

CHERBOURG. The last leg of the journey was a very long, tiring eight-hundred-mile drive across France back to Cherbourg, with plenty of stops to give our iron-man driver Mike a break. We were all very sunburnt, tired, and rather grubby by this time and just looked forward to getting home, having a hot bath, and wearing clean clothes. The journey took the best part of sixteen hours in all and for our last night we found a campsite within an easy drive of Cherbourg. By this time our spending money was running quite low, and we were reduced to eating basic stuff like bread, cheese, cold meat, and fruit and drinking bottled water, but we had all kept some money in reserve for the ferry back to Southampton. The ferry restaurant had a smorgasbord buffet where, for a fixed price, you could eat as much as you liked. So that is what we did, and so arrived back in Southampton tired, happy, and stuffed to the gills with food.

In retrospect I think that trying to get to Athens and back in two weeks and visiting places on the way was far too optimistic and ambitious; we would not have done it. The revised itinerary that was forced on us by circumstances was much more realistic. Also, it would have been better if, from the time they joined us, both Mike and Richard had been nominated as the designated drivers. I knew both to be extremely competent drivers, as with Chris I had to take him on his own valuation. However, despite losing two days, in the two weeks we had still driven about 2,300 miles and seen many memorable sights, places and architectural gems. The trip had not quite turned out as originally planned as we had failed to reach Athens and emulate Cliff Richard in his film ‘summer Holiday’ but we all agreed we had had a brilliant and memorable trip.

Gutteridge and Gutteridge 1962-65.

In 1962 I started work at the architectural firm of Gutteridge and Gutteridge as an architectural assistant at £7 per week- equivalent to £150 in 2020. Their offices were on the first floor of a large detached Edwardian house at 45, Westwood Road, Portswood, Southampton. The ground floor was let off as a separate flat and on the second floor, in the roof space, was a small firm of quantity Surveyors, Jung and Barnet.

Gutteridge and Gutteridge were a well-regarded practice that was far larger than the three-man practice at Winchester City Architects Department. At Winchester I only worked on council houses and flats but, although I now had to work on Saturday mornings, not only was I getting more money (£7 per week before deductions- equivalent to £150 per week in 2020- and at that time the average wage for an agricultural worker was £13 per week.) but also the opportunity of working on a wider range of buildings. The distance from my home to the office was just over six miles, but it was all on lighted main roads that were cleared and gritted in winter, so there was never a problem in getting to work on my bicycle and, later, on my motorbike.

Guttridge’s (as it is now styled in 2020) were a much larger firm than the three-person architect’s department at Winchester City Council where had worked for the previous three years. It had three partners- Mr Hayter, Mr Gutteridge and Mr Barrington-Smith; two associates architects -Norman Woodford and Joe Warwick- who was also head of the drawing office; a senior architect Alan Fudge; a senior technician John Elderfield; five architectural assistants Peter Ward, David Dance, Mike Downer, Mervyn Gulliver and me, David Clifford King, plus three secretaries.

John Elderfield was in his late 30s, lived with his wife and family at Hedge End, and was a very experienced technician. He was quite tall, with a bald strip down the middle of his head and two side ‘wings’ of dark hair and he always wore a three-quarter length oatmeal colour draughtsman’s smock in the office. He was a calm, unflappable person with a wry sense of humour. He was very reliable and could turn his hand to any type of building. He was particularly good at chain surveys, general surveying, and levelling, particularly on awkward or difficult sites.

Peter Ward was an oddity as a trainee draughtsman/architectural assistant. He was a small, wiry, cheerfully energetic man with thinning sandy hair, had a goatee beard, was a chain-smoker and had an amusing turn of phrase. He was in his mid-30s and always wore a two-piece tweed suit and a waistcoat in the office. He was married with two young children and from the age of fifteen he had trained as a carpenter and joiner: working for small local building firms and eventually becoming a site foreman. The year before I joined the firm, he had apparently decided that he wanted to retrain as an architectural assistant and Mr Hayter had taken him on. With all his site experience Peter was just what the firm needed to oversee their building projects. A clear case of a poacher turning game keeper!

Peter also started studying as a first-year student at the part-time architectural course at Southampton Art School with the aim of eventually qualifying as an architect. At that time, to encourage those from other construction backgrounds to take up architecture, the RIBA allowed experienced people, who had already served a trade apprenticeship, some exemptions towards obtaining an intermediate architectural qualification, which made the process shorter and easier for them.

It was a brave step for Peter as it must have been a considerable drop in salary, even though he was getting paid more than us, because of his essential site experience, and had also been provided with an old land rover by the firm to travel around their various sites. His cheerful blonde Welsh wife, Blodwyn- who he always called ‘Blodders’- went along with his career change and was very supportive. They lived in a large five-bedroom Victorian house in the nearby suburb of Shirley, and Blodwyn took in a couple of university students as lodgers to help pay the bills. I got to know one of their lodgers called Ian quite well over the next couple of years. Ian was studying engineering at the university and was interested in architecture and eventually joined the trip across Europe to Italy I organised for a group of fellow architectural students from the Art School in August 1964. Many years later I heard that Blodwyn first had an affair with Ian and then, abandoning her children, had gone off abroad with a student from the Middle East. I never heard if Peter had continued studying or had finally qualified.

David Dance was a tall, thin streak of a lad with a pale complexion with an affected, laid-back, and languid manner who saw himself as a Mod, complete with his Vespa motor scooter adorned with its many additional shiny lights and mirrors. The Mod, or Modern, was a popular 1960s teenage subculture who saw themselves as educated, stylish and sophisticated as opposed to the ignorant uncouth motorcycle ‘Rocker’ sub-culture.

Early Mod influences include jazz music and European art films. Dressing like a mod means wearing stylish and tailored clothing; including drainpipe trousers and desert boots plus a fur-lined parka, which was an essential signature garment when riding either their Vespa or Lambretta scooters.

Mike Downer was in his late twenties and lived at home with his mother and younger brother, who was a clerk in a local bank. He was from a quite well-off family background as they lived in a superior semi-detached house in Hill Lane, on the west side of Southampton Common. Mike was extremely quiet, shy, and withdrawn but once you got him talking on a one-to-one basis, he was quietly humorous and funny. He rarely offered an opinion on anything and did exactly what he was told to do in the office and did it very well. He was an excellent draughtsman and his details always worked. He had never had a girlfriend and his only passion was cars. After I had got to know him, I found out that he had built his own hill-climb car and raced it at events at weekends. He also had the latest mini car and, once behind a wheel, he was a changed man. He had nerves of steel and could drive to the inch at speed in any weather. The first drive I had with him frightened the hell out of me, but I soon learned that Mike took no risks at all and knew exactly what he was doing. Mike also joined our architectural trip to Italy in 1964 and, after a problem with our second driver, became our sole driver for the whole two-week trip and drove brilliantly.

I lost touch with him after leaving the firm, but I heard years after that first his brother had gone to work in South Africa and then Mike himself had got married to a local Southampton middle-class ‘gently bred’ girl and also gone to live there.

Mervyn Gulliver was of middling height and sender build, with dark hair and wore glasses with heavy dark frames, had a wry sense of humour and was from a working-class background. We were the same age, studied architecture together at the part-time architectural course and worked on adjacent drawing boards at work for over two years. We became good friends, and I went to his wedding to Lyn in 1964 and often visited the flat they lived in near Millbrook. Mervyn was famous for his appetite. He could and did eat like a horse and never put on an ounce. We all brought sandwiches to work for lunch each day and would sit around in our one-hour lunch break from one-o-clock, eating our sandwiches, drinking a mug of tea or coffee, chatting, and generally having a laugh. Mervyn would arrive each morning with his well-filled ‘goody-bag’ – as we all came to call it and put it on the shelf by his drawing board. He would open it up soon after mid-morning and, while drawing, would steadily munch his way through it. By lunch time it was always empty, and he would have to pop down to the local shops in Portswood High Street to get something for lunch, and something for the afternoon.

Two years after I joined the firm he left, having got a place as a full-time student in the third year at Brighton School of architecture. He had digs there during the week and commuted home to his wife at weekends. Mervyn was only one of four students, including myself, from the twenty students at the part-time architectural course at Southampton to finally qualify as an architect. We kept in touch on and off over the years, even when I was moving around the UK, but finally lost touch when I was working in Hong Kong in the late 1970s.

Both Mervyn Gulliver and John Elderfield came to my wedding on Saturday, 23rd September 1967 when I married Margaret Francis Nicholls at St Michael’s and All Angels Church ay Lyndhurst in the New Forest.

Gutteridge and Gutteridge had been established for over thirty years it had a varied work base ranging from small alterations and extensions to new build on both small and medium sized projects. Their client list included private individuals, local councils and businesses, banks, to the Territorial Army and Southampton University.

The original founder of the firm, Colonel Gutteridge, had retired by the time I joined the practice, and the senior partner was then Harry Hayter, who had joined the firm as a trainee back in the 1930s. The Colonel lived in a detached house, either in University Road or Church Lane near the University Highfield campus and I met him once when I was asked by his son Geoffrey Gutteridge, who was a partner in the firm, to deliver a document to him. He was possibly in his late 70s or early 80s and despite having a rather stiff and formal manner was a very kindly gent. He asked me lots of questions about my architectural training; what studying I was doing and what I hoped to do in the future and recommended me a couple of books that might help me in my studies. Sadly, he died within the next year and I, along with the rest of the office staff, all went to his funeral.

It was a very friendly drawing office, and I certainly learnt a lot there; how to draw properly; the basics of land, site and building surveys, simple levelling and building detailing. In retrospect we all got through a lot of work, and it was all very challenging and enjoyable. One of principle advantage, as opposed to the disadvantages, of studying architecture part-time was that by starting at sixteen one was soon involved on various sites even just delivering drawings or going along with the Architect as a ‘gofer’. You quickly learnt about basic construction, what worked and what didn’t, and even about the minimum space a workman needed to perform a seemingly simple task in an awkward place. By the time you were eighteen or nineteen you would be allowed to design and run simple jobs or small extensions on site, although always with a senior draughtsman, associate or even a partner looking over your shoulder all the time.

Joe Warwick, Alan Fudge and John Elderfield took endless trouble teaching us inexperienced architectural assistants the right way to do things: how to draw quickly, neatly, and accurately; how to comply with Planning and Building Regulation requirements and how to detail buildings properly. They were a fountain of knowledge and whenever we were stuck on some issue about materials, a detail or developing an aspect of a design they would always have an answer. They would usually start by saying ‘I remember on a similar job ‘X’ years ago, we had a similar problem, and we solved it like this’, and they would sketch out a few suggestions on a sheet of scrap paper. If they didn’t know they would say so, and then would bat a few ideas around until they came up with an answer. One valuable lesson they taught me was, when drawing a detail or layout, to always think of the workman actually doing the job on site. Something that looks correct on paper may be almost impossible for a workman with his tools to construct or do on site, particularly in a tight or constricted situation, unless he was both a contortionist and double-jointed with flexible tools! It taught me to always ask someone when in doubt, even a fellow architectural assistant, as someone looking at a problem with a fresh eye can often spot a solution that was staring me in the face, but I had overlooked.

Sadly, in my second year there, Alan Fudge was killed. He was a mild-mannered, quiet man, perhaps in his early 50s, with glasses and salt and pepper hair. He was endlessly patient with us and always did any church work the firm got- and I suspect he was quite religious. He always rode his bicycle to work and one morning, while cycling down Portswood High Street, a big articulated lorry passed too close to him while going too fast and the slipstream dragged Alan under the back wheels of the trailer, killing him instantly. A sad loss and I still have the book he leant me, days before he died: ‘Theory and Design in the First Machine Age’ by Rayner Banham. Alan was a very kind man and a quietly competent architect.

During the three years I was at Guttridge’s the many projects I worked on ranged from new private houses and alterations and extensions to existing ones, council houses and Bank renovations through to work on Territorial Army projects Southampton University buildings. As far as I can recall Guttridge’s had been the main University architects since the 1930s, when it was just a small, provincial establishment. Now it was getting bigger the University, to give it more cachet, wanted to employ a larger and more nationally known firm both to produce a master plan for the whole University and design modern, up-to-date buildings. The firm chosen was Sir Basil Spence, Bonnington and Collins, a London-based practice who were noted for their buildings in the Modernist / Brutalist style. Basil Unwin Spence (1907-1976) was a Scottish architect who in 1950 became nationally known the competition design the new Coventry Cathedral (opened in 1962) and for work on the Festival of Britain in 1952 – and the University of Southampton appointed him as consultant architect and planner in the mid-1950s.

The University awarded him the commission to design new student halls of residence at Glen Eyre, a thickly wooded site off Glen Eyre Road. His design proposal, in his Modernist / Brutalist style, was in pre-cast concrete panels with horizontal bands of windows. They were three-story blocks around a central courtyard, with a circular glass access tower containing lifts stairs and toilets on the outside corner of each adjacent block, linking them together. (See photos below).

They sub-contracted the working drawings and contract documentation to Guttridge’s, as the local firm, and I assisted John Elderfield, the senior draughtsman, to do an initial chain survey with levels of the site. It was the first really big and prestigious job (by my provincial standards of 1964) that I had worked on and, closely monitored, I was responsible for the complicated detail drawings for the glass towers and link blocks.

Cuban Missile Crisis.

The 20th of October 1962 was a typical Saturday morning at the office. We worked a five-and-a-half-day week so had to be in the office every Saturday from 9am until 1pm. In one of the two small back offices I sat at my double elephant drawing board in the one I shared with the Architect Alan Fudge. Alongside my right shoulder was an internal wall that separated me from the adjoining office where my friend Mervyn Gulliver and the senior draughtsman/ technician John Elderfield worked. A small opening some two feet square had been made in the wall between the two offices at shoulder height and, on the ledge, stood an old-fashioned black Bakelite telephone for our joint office use. The opening also enabled the members of the two offices to chat to each other during the day. Both my and Mervyn’s drawing boards faced the rear of the building; each of us having a window that overlooked the sunny rear garden. Mr Fudge sat to my right, facing the window in the side wall that also overlooked the garden at the side of the property. John sat facing the window on the other side wall, with a window overlooking the garden of the next-door property. As we worked away, we idly chatted about this and that; what we had done the previous evening; the latest records; maybe what TV programmes we had watched or what we were going to do that weekend- just a normal, dull, uneventful morning waiting for our release at 1pm on the dot.

Mr Fudge, a very kind, reserved, quietly spoken, almost timid man was a committed Christian and a member of CND since its foundation in 1957. The CND is an organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament, and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It opposes military action that may result in the use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and the building of nuclear power stations in the UK.

Every day, mid-morning, we had a tea or coffee break (with a biscuit, if you brought your own) when we all had a ten-minute break, standing up from crouching over our drawing boards, having a stretch and more chat through the hatch. The telephone rang and our switchboard said it was for Alan Fudge so Mervyn, who had answered it, handed it to Alan. We all moved a step or so away to give Alan space, as we assumed it was a call from some contractor. Alan listened intently then, having said nothing, put the phone back on the cradle and just stood there perfectly still, with his hand on the telephone, facing the wall and the open hatch. We all realised that something was very wrong, so we immediately gathered around. Mr Fudge was a small, slight man with iron-grey hair and a very pale complexion, and we could see that, if it were possible, he seemed to have gone even whiter. John, as the senior man present, asked him what was wrong- was it bad news from home?

After a pause Alan said, in a voice even quieter than normal, the no, it wasn’t that it was something even worse. He said it was a telephone call from a friend in the CND who had told him about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The worse fears of the CND people were coming true; an eye-ball-to eye-ball stand-off between the Americans and the Russians and that a nuclear war and possible Armageddon for the world was increasingly likely.

It was a bombshell in the tiny bubble in which we all lived, having little or no knowledge or appreciation of the wider world. We were all stunned and did not know what to do. The news went around the office like wildfire and one of the lads in the front office, who had a portable radio, turned it on and confirmed it all as true. All pretence at work stopped and we stood around in anxious worried groups with our imaginations working overtime: Inter-continental missile sites being made ready; missile submarines and surface warships on standby and moving into position; nuclear bombers taking off and the President of the USA’s finger hovering over the red ‘GO’ button. What could we do? Where could we go? Should we go home? Should we contact family and friends? How long had we all got? Were we all going to die? Would there be any warning? Having seen photos of the aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima by the Americans in WW2 we had some horrifying idea of what might be about to happen- but on a vastly larger scale. Alan Fudge said that any nuclear conflict over Cuba would, in his view, quickly spread to Europe and this time it would be hydrogen, not atomic, bombs and the scale of devastation and radiation fall-out would be infinitely worse. There was nothing we could do, nowhere to hide or anywhere it would be safe to go to; unlike WW2 where people could escape the bombing by either going into air-raid shelters or leaving built-up areas and going into the countryside. Everywhere might be devastated.

Within a short time, everybody had left the office and I quickly got on my bike and cycled the six miles home to Bishopstoke in probably the fasted time I had ever done. As soon as I got home, I switched our black and white TV on and watched the constant updates. A big problem I had was trying to tell my mother what was happening. She was totally deaf and, in those days, there were no sub-titles on the news. She really did not or could not understand what was happening. She basically just shrugged her shoulders and said that we should leave it to all the ‘high-ups’ in the government to sort things out, as they had in the last war- and then just got on with whatever she was doing. In those days nobody had telephones in their homes and, when they very rarely had to telephone anyone, they used the nearest coin-in-the-slot General Post Office telephone booth. There was no internet, texting, or smartphones and so we were totally dependent on the radio or TV for the news as the nerve-racking drama unfolded.

I recall that after the workmen had all poured home on their bicycles from their morning’s work at the British Rail railway and carriage works in Eastleigh the streets that afternoon seemed empty of both local people that even the local traffic on the streets had stopped. I may be imagining it, but I seem to recall that even the local hourly Hants and Dorset local bus to Eastleigh stopped running; everybody seemed to be hunkered down at home and holding their breaths. Many of the railway workers had gone through the war; our immediate neighbour, Charlie Appleton, a carriage works sign writer, had been one of Montgomery’s desert rats in North Africa and had fought in Alamein in 1942, where he had been taken prisoner by the Germans. They knew all about war first-hand and many had survived horrifying experiences.

I did not go out that evening with the lads as usual, but stayed at home, glued to the TV, and could barely swallow the cooked evening meal my mother had prepared. Between the increasingly brief news updates I remember it all being very much ‘carry on as usual’ for both the TV and radio programmes. Friday and Saturday night evening TV programmes usually had several popular weekly serials that I never failed to watch such as Bonanza, Have Gun – Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Rawhide and several comedy programmes but I could not settle to watch any of them. That weekend just passed in a blur of increasing anxiety; I was nineteen, alone in the house with my deaf mother and had no-one to advise me what to do or even talk things over with. I was expecting the worst at any moment and so spent a couple of very sleepless nights.

By Monday it seemed that the United Nations Organisation was involved, and the threat of an immediate war seemed to have diminished. I decided to go into the office and when there Mr Fudge said that the CND had learned that negotiations between the two sides had started and that there were high hopes that all the issues would be resolved. Which is what happened and by the end of October it was all over. Things were back to normal, but we had all learned how rapidly ‘normal’ could become ‘abnormal’. I still recall that period as being one of intense stress and anxiety as everything was totally out of the control of me or anybody. Anything could have happened but, luckily, nothing did- this time.

Appendix The Cuban Missile Crises was a 13-day international crisis from the 16th to the 28th October1962. It was a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by Soviet ballistic missiles being secretly installed on Cuba, within range of mainland America. It was the closest approach to an all-out nuclear war at any time between the US and the USSR.

When this was reported to President John F. Kennedy, he then convened a meeting of the nine members of the National Security Council and five other key advisers in a group that became known as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM). After consultation with them, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade on October 22 to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba. The US announced it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and returned to the Soviet Union.

After several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to avoid invading Cuba again. Secretly, the United States agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter nuclear tipped medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), which had been deployed in Turkey against the Soviet Union; there has been debate on whether Italy was included in the agreement as well.

When all offensive missiles and light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba, the blockade was formally ended on November 21, 1962. The negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union pointed out the necessity of a quick, clear, and direct communication line between the two Superpowers. As a result, the Moscow–Washington hotline was established. A series of agreements later reduced US–Soviet tensions for several years until both parties began to build their nuclear arsenals even further.

My First Building 1965.

In 1962, aged nineteen, I started work at the architectural firm of Gutteridge and Gutteridge in their offices at 45, Westwood Road, Portswood, Southampton, a locally very well-regarded practice that was far larger than the three-man practice at Winchester City Architects Department. At Winchester I only worked on council houses and flats but, although I now had to work on Saturday mornings, not only was I getting more money (£7 per week before deductions, equivalent to £150 per week in 2020) but also the opportunity of working on a wider range of buildings. The distance from my home to the office was just over six miles, but it was all on lighted main roads that were cleared and gritted in winter, so there was never a problem in getting to work on my bike.

Guttridge’s (as it is now styled in 2020) were a much larger firm than the three-person architect’s department at Winchester City Council where had worked for the previous three years. It had three partners, two associates, a senior architect, a senior technician and five architectural assistants (including me) plus three secretaries. Being a well-established practice for over thirty years it had a much more varied work base ranging from small alterations and extensions to new build on both small and medium sized projects. Their client list included private individuals, local councils and businesses, banks, to the Territorial Army and Southampton University.

One of principle advantage, as opposed to the disadvantages, of studying architecture part-time was that by starting at sixteen one was soon involved on various sites even just delivering drawings or going along with the Architect as a ‘gofer’. You quickly learnt about basic construction, what worked and what didn’t, and even about the minimum space a workman needed to perform a seemingly simple task in an awkward place. By the time you were eighteen or nineteen you would be allowed to design and run simple jobs or small extensions on site, although always with a senior draughtsman, associate or even a partner looking over your shoulder all the time.

In my case, at the age of twenty-one, I designed my first complete building under the close watchful eye of a partner for a site in St. Michael’s Square, Southampton. It was a block of flats and maisonettes for the Southampton City Council and in April 2012 it was still there, as I re-visited it on my 69th birthday. I had designed parts of buildings before, or worked up a partner’s sketch design into a finished proposal but this was the first time I had a whole building together through all the stages from the Client’s brief and site survey through to the final design and working drawings.

After the successful invasion and conquering of Britain by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in 1066 the port of Southampton became his main supply and communication route back from London via Winchester and across the Channel to Normandy. St Michael’s Square is in the heart of what was the old walled town of Southampton, which was largely rebuilt in medieval times. The Grade 1 listed St Michaels Church, which is named after the patron Saint of Normandy, was founded in 1070 which makes it Southampton’s oldest functioning building.

although its central tower is the only surviving part of the original church and was in the heart of what became the Norman-French quarter of the old town. Built on the east side of the square it faces the 15th century Tudor House – now a museum- on the west side.

The site for the proposed buildings was on the north side of the square, along the side entry street to the square from the Castle Way ring road to the east, beyond the church. The Southampton City Council brief called for five single bedroom flats and five three-bedroom houses, plus a public garden on the corner of the street with Castle Way. One of the buildings on the site, Number 11, had been bombed in WW2 and when the heap of rubble was finally cleared away it was found that underneath was a Norman arched vault running at right angles back from the square. A second vault was found below the open ground beyond number 13, running parallel with the access street to the square. It was thought they were both originally used for storing trading goods, and both had to be preserved beneath any proposed new building and access provided to both.

My first task was to do a detailed survey and draw up the plans, sections, and elevations of the three existing buildings that were to be demolished and the two vaults that had to be preserved. Part of my Testimonies of Study coursework for the Royal Institute of British Architects college course work required evidence of my ability to do a detailed survey and draw it up. After I had completed the drawings, I included them as part of my part three final submission to RIBA in June 1965. All my course work was approved which meant I was then able to apply to sit for the RIBA Intermediate Exam as an external student that autumn in London.

At the time the young, trendy, part-time lecturer in charge part-time architectural course at Southampton College of Art, who had his own practice in

Bournemouth was a devotee of Swedish-style modernist architecture; simple geometric shapes, preferably in silver-grey plain brickwork or rendered blockwork; very little surface modelling, windows flush with the outside wall face and mono-pitched roofs. We young students, knowing no better, soon learned that if we submitted a design for his approval that was not in this style, we risked a low mark or even a failure. So, this was the style I naturally gravitated towards in my ‘real’ design for council houses. I developed a simple scheme in brick with a mono-pitched roof containing five single bedroom flats at ground level, with five two-story maisonettes above, all entered from the rear of the property. The ground floor flats were raised up off the ground above the vaults, which had to be preserved. As a concern was raised about people passing by in the square might look into the front

windows of the ground floor flats, I recessed them back from the back edge of the curb and put in a raised planter to conceal the end of the Norman storage vaults below.

My design resonated with the then Southampton City planner’s then reference for plain, stripped-down 1950s-style clean-looking buildings with the minimum of decoration, so they supported the proposal. However, it was only approved after a very testy City Council Housing and Town Planning Committee meeting and an amendment calling for the plan to be deferred was defeated by 38 votes to 25. A committee report said that the scheme would cost over £40,000, giving a unit cost of £4,000. In the event the scheme was built for £34,946, still expensive at £3,500 per unit cost for the time but not outrageous when considering the extra structural expense of both building above and conserving the two Norman vaults. In the 1960s the average house price was £2,530 and the average yearly income was £960.


The RIBA and Sin City.

From Sunday, 17th October to Friday, 22nd 1965, aged 22 I was in London, sitting the Royal Institute of British Architect’s Intermediate examination for external (part-time) students. I had booked into the YMCA hostel in Tottenham Court Road, as had several others from other parts of England. The examination was held in the imposing, stone-faced Art Deco RIBA headquarters building at 66, Portland Place, which is just along the road from the BBC headquarters building, and within a short walking distance of the Regent’s Park underground station.

According to a postcard of St Paul’s Cathedral I sent to my mother on Thursday 21st October, when I sat the exam there were 200 students, from London and various parts of England, taking or re-taking the exam. Their ages ranged from young first-timers like me through to greybeards in their 40s or early 50s who were resitting the exam again, having failed several times before.

From 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, with a break for lunch and between exam papers, we were all crammed into two large halls on the first floor, reached from the imposing entrance lobby, working our way through eight separate examination papers.

It was structured so that at one sitting a candidate had to pass at least five of the papers for it to count- he could then retake the two or three he had failed at the next examination. If, however, the candidate passed less than five at one sitting he had to take the whole exam again the next time around. Many of the students had been taking the exams for several years and still not managed to pass all the papers and eventually the RIBA restricted the number of times an external student could re-take the exam. It was a tough exam to take and in 1965 less than 10% of the part-time external students who sat the exam in London passed it on the first attempt. I was one of the lucky ones who did.

On the Friday afternoon each student taking the exam for the first time was given a one-to-one oral examination by an RIBA external examiner. I was interviewed by a Mr Cave, a man in his 50s with bushy eyebrows, and he quickly put me at ease. My interview lasted about an hour, and he discussed my exam papers and the design work I had done on the day-long building design and detailing project. It all seemed to go very well and at the end he asked me what my plans were if I passed the intermediate examination. I told him of my hopes of someday going full-time for the final two years and then said he said that he was the head of the School of Architecture the Oxford College of Technology. He told me that and he had several students at his school that had switched from part-time courses and, if I did pass the exam and still wanted to go full-time, perhaps I could consider applying for a place there. He seemed really friendly and approachable, and I said I would give it some serious thought. I found out later he had been at the school since 1945 and was very influential member of the RIBA. In the late afternoon I left the RIBA and headed back to the YMCA to pick up my things. That was the last time I ever visited the RIBA headquarters.

It was my first time in London on my own and I soon linked up with a student of my age from Wales, who was also staying at the YMCA for the exam. Every evening we went out walking all over central London, occasionally dropping into an interesting looking pub for a pint of beer- but we were careful not to drink too much and were always in bed before ten. We found our way around on the underground and were able to experience some of London’s sights at night: such as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and the Houses of Parliament. We soon got to know a few of the local London students of our age taking the exam and, in their opinion, we provincials couldn’t possibly come to London without sampling the delights of SoHo and going to a strip club- so one evening they took us both to one.

Bohemian SoHo had a reputation both as a major entertainment district of London and for crime, sleazy pubs, clubs, and the sex trade; and it was only four months after the former light-heavyweight boxer and night-club owner Freddie Mills had been found shot dead in his car there in suspicious circumstances. In the early evening the six of us first had a pint in a pub and then taken on a tour of the area by our three local ‘guides’. For about an hour, with our guides pointing out the high-lights- we walked along narrow, rather dirty streets, lined both sides with narrow buildings three and four stories high. In daylight it probably looked run-down and tatty but at night it was more like a fairground: a mixture of colour, noise, lights, visual interest and seemingly full of infinite possibilities. There was a heady background smell of car exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, stale beer fumes, perfume, aftershave, hot onions, chips, and the occasional whiff of either something rotting or possibly sewage.

The streets both sides were lined with small shops, pubs, small eateries, betting shops, the odd pawn shop, night clubs, chip, and burger bars and, of course, many strip clubs. At each narrow fronted establishment there was a tough looking doorman who, like a market stall holder, tried to lure passing punters by shouting out the attractions of that particular establishment: “Exotic dancers!”,” Beautiful girls!”, “Full nude show!” or “Continuous striptease!” Each place had a notice board outside with black and white photographs of their naked beauties, all in provocative, film-star like enticing poses.

Even in the early evening the streets were crowded with people of all ages, wearing clothes that, to my eyes, ranged from the utterly bizarre to the height of the latest 60s teenage fashions, all out to have a good time and, to us provincials, this was living all right!

We finally went to a strip club that our three minders seemed to know. A tough-looking bloke in his 30s, in full Teddy-Boy regalia (1) -Teddy Boys were so 1950s; was he the first retro doorman? – stood at the entrance, next to glossy photos of enticing lovelies and charged us a pound each for the combined club joining and entrance fee. Apparently, all the strip joints were classed as ‘private clubs’ which enabled them both to operate and serve drinks after hours, so only ‘club members’ were admitted. We clattered down the step narrow stairs to a windowless, dimly lit basement room with a low ceiling. The room was about twenty feet wide, the full width of the building plot, and was about thirty feet long. At the far end, across the back wall, was a raised wooden stage, about nine inches high, and the rear wall was covered with some gauze-like curtains that had constantly changing coloured lights shining down them. There were about two dozen chairs arranged in three rows, with the first row being about four feet in front of the stage, all of which were already occupied.

Where we came in at the back there was a small open area (for standing room only?) with a small bar to one side, where we had to pay an exorbitant price for a very weak pint of beer each. The dim lights suddenly got even dimmer; spotlights were trained on the stage and, from a door to the left in the back wall, behind the curtains, emerged a girl in her exotic costume of layers of floaty materiel. As she stepped on the stage the quiet background music changed to what was apparently her tune for stripping or dancing too and the volume cranked up. She went into her routine, which lasted a few minutes, gradually stripping of until there was a brief final fully nude pose before the spotlights went out and, in the gloom, I could see her picking up her discarded costume and exiting through the rear door. There was a pause for a few minutes and then the lights dimmed again, the spotlights came on and another girl came on and, to different loud music, did her turn. Several of the girls came down off the stage and enticed the men in the front row to ‘help’ them take off a glove or a stocking- and they did not need much encouragement. One even got a punter to unhook her bra from the back before clutching it to her she stepped back onto the stage then dramatically cast it to one side and stood completely in the nude for a few seconds before the lights went out again.

After four girls had performed there was a gap of several minutes before the whole thing started again and a different group of four girls appeared in turn through the door at the back and performed their acts. Our guides told us that teams of these girls rotated through the evening from club to club and just put their costumes back on, put on a long raincoat, and hurried to the next venue. We watched about three or four complete groups before leaving. What I found interesting was that in the intervals between the separate shows the girls, as they came out to leave, would pause by the punters in the front row and briefly chat to them. They knew them by name and overheard them being asked such things as How are you?’ and ‘How’s the family?’ It was most bizarre- clearly, they were regulars who perhaps popped in for a while on their way home from work. As we left or ‘guides’ told us that if we fancied any of the girls, they were usually available for a more personal service- we just had to ask the doorman at the top- but there were no takers. We bought some fish and chips, well doused in salt and vinegar, before heading back to the YMCA for another early night, having sampled the fleshpots of Sin City.

On Friday I caught an early evening stopping train from London back to Eastleigh in Hampshire. It took a couple of hours, and it was crowded with some of us having to stand in the corridors. I started chatting to a well-spoken girl about my own age, who happened to be next to me. I was surprised to find out that she lived in Bishopstoke- but in the large house at Riverside with its own private grounds. She told me that the next week she was leaving England to live and work in South Africa. When we got to Eastleigh station, we got off the train together. Outside, she got into a car and was driven off while I, carrying my suitcase, walked to the bus stop to catch the next bus home to Bishopstoke.

Teddy Boys. A mainly British phenomenon, the Teddy Boy subculture started among teenagers in London in the early 1950s, and rapidly spread across the UK, becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll music. Their clothing included drape jackets reminiscent of 1940s American zoot suits worn by Italian American, Chicano and African American communities, usually in dark shades, sometimes with a velvet trim collar and pocket flaps, and high waist “drainpipe” trousers, often exposing white or even luminous socks. They often wore thick crepe-soled shoes- known as ‘brothel creepers’, bootlace ties, white or black shirts with contrast piping with elaborate swept-back hairstyles and sideburns and cultivated a hard, tough image. Their weapons of choice were brass knuckle-dusters, flick-knifes or a bicycle chain, which was often carried in a special long pocket down one trouser leg.

The Lion’s Den.

In 1965 I was working for Gutteridge and Gutteridge, a well-established local firm of architects at 45, Westwood Road, Portswood, Southampton. It consisted of three partners, two associate architects, one senior architect, two trainee architect/ draughtsmen (I was one of them), a senior draughtsman and five draughtsmen. From Sunday the 17th to Friday 22nd October I had been in London sitting for the Royal Institute of British Architects external Intermediate Examination in London. This was a gruelling, week-long exam held twice a year, at the Royal Institute of British Architects in its imposing Art Deco headquarters building at 66, Portland Place, for all the part-time external students in the UK and passing the exam meant you were halfway to being a qualified architect.

The following Wednesday, the 27th of November, I was on my motorbike en route to see my friends John and Vicky Lovell at Ower, in the New Forest, when I was involved in a crash at Romsey that nearly killed me. During my convalescence in the following two weeks, I received the good news that I had passed the examination. I was particularly pleased as only 10% of external students succeeded in passing this tough exam the first time. Many sat for it again and again over several years before they succeeded in passing – or just gave up. For those studying architecture full-time it took only three years to get to the intermediate stage, so I was very pleased that it had only taken me five years studying part-time at Southampton College of Art. At the end of the 4th year the course had been disbanded and I was only able to carry on studying from home with the encouragement and help of Mr Hudek, a Polish architect who had been a part-time tutor there and had become a friend.

On my return to work on Monday, 3rd November I immediately told Joe Warwick, the associate architect in charge of the drawing office of my success so that he could pass on the good news to the partners. I had been with the firm for a couple of years and passing this exam was a big deal, so I was expecting a ‘well done’ from the partners in recognition of my achievement and a pay rise. Gutteridge’s operated a 5 ½ day working week and at that time I was earning £7 a week before deductions- equivalent to £150 in 2020. I knew from trainees in other offices that trainees who had passed the exam were paid between £10 and £12 for a five-day week- equivalent to £195 and £225 in 2020. During my time at Gutteridge’s I had been working hard and had got through a lot of work, had not blotted my copybook (as far as I knew), so I did not anticipate any problem.

Two weeks passed and nothing was said, and I approached Joe again and he confirmed he had told the partners but had heard nothing back. I asked Joe what I should do but he was unable to offer any advice except that perhaps I should wait until the annual staff pay review next April and to see what happened then. I was very unhappy with this and at the end of another week I finally screwed up my courage and approached the Senior Partner’s secretary and asked for an appointment to see him. I was asked what it was about, so I told her, and she came back a day later to say that the Senior Partner could not possibly see me until the end of the following week.

For a junior trainee to go and see the senior partner to discuss wages was most unusual. Once a year in April a partner would call you into his office and tell you what, if any, pay rise you had been awarded for the coming year. No discussion, no explanation- that was it. For the next week I was in a lather of anxiety and continually practiced what I was to say to him; a short statement concluding by asking “If the partners could see their way clear to raising my weekly wages to £10”. I chose the lower sum to ask for so as not to appear greedy and to allow them him the opportunity to give me more if they chose.

The day arrived and, some fifteen minutes after the appointed time, I was finally called into his office by his secretary. I entered his office and stood very nervously in front of his big leather-topped writing desk while he, with head bent, was busily finishing writing something. After a minute or two, which seemed like an hour to me, he finally looked up at me and said “Yes?” and waited.

The Senior Partner, Harry Hayter, was a man in his mid-50s. A lean, spare figure of middling height he had a pale complexion, grey hair, a military-style toothbrush moustache and gimlet eyes. He always wore a dark suit, white shirt, and striped tie; held himself very stiff and erect, always walked briskly as if he was marching on parade, and affected a clipped, military style of speech. He was a member of the Lions Club charity organisation and was also an officer in the local part-time Territorial Army unit. It was many years later before I learnt that he was not even a qualified architect but an LRIBA.

From the 1920s The RIBA introduced a class of membership called a “Licentiate”, for whom the post-nominal affix was “LRIBA”. This class was available for those who could show both evidence of competence and that they had worked in an Architect’s office for many years, and so be allowed to practice using the protected title of ‘architect’ without having to study architecture and pass any examinations.

I nervously stumbled into my rehearsed speech; starting by saying that he had probably heard I had passed my intermediate exam. He heard me through to the end and briefly said words to the effect of that yes, he had heard something about my passing an exam, and that he would get back to me on the other matter; then dismissed me back to my drawing board. I left his office in a muck sweat and trying not to tremble with nervous relief, went back to my drawing board. All the other draughtsmen were very sympathetic and asked what had happened and tried to re-assure me that everything would be alright.

Another week passed before I was suddenly called into his office again. In his clipped, military way he said briefly that he had discussed it with the partners, and they could not see their way clear to giving me another three pounds a week and again dismissed me back to my drawing board. Within a month I had left and got another job at another architect’s office in Southampton at £10 for a five-day week- which was soon raised to £12.

W H Saunders 1966.

From early January 1966 until I went off to the Oxford School of Architecture I worked for the architects W H Saunders in Brunswick Place, Southampton, who occupied the top two floors of a 1950s 4-storey office block overlooking East Park. It was the largest firm I had worked for so far in my career and was a totally commercial practice. The paid well, by local standards, but expected you to earn every penny. There were three or four partners, one or two associates and a secretarial office that all had their own offices on the floor below us.

In the drawing office on the top floor there were about fifteen or twenty of us, including a couple of architects and the chief draughtsman, Jock. He was a bulky, a silver-grey haired man in his late 40s with an almost exaggerated Scots accent and was a former naval Chief Petty Officer. He ran an efficient, tight ship in the drawing office, as if we were all a bunch of matelots, and his normally benign manner could change in a flash to biting comments and a severe dressing down to anyone he thought deserved it. Design seemed to play only a small part in their work; the main emphasise being on any job: get it done and out of the door ASAP.

Commercial offices kept a strict check on the number of drawings produced by each person every week and if one draughtsman’s output was judged to fall below a minimum, he was either spoken to by the head draughtsman or even called into see one of the partners to explain. It was not unknown for a draughtsman’s weekly salary to be docked by a few pounds if the partner judged he had not produced enough.

The partner in charge of staff time and productivity was known, behind his back, as ‘The Rate Fixer’ and he was not a man to get on the wrong side of. Any absence from the drawing board had to be explained and, if he saw that you did not have your head down and were busily drawing, he would appear and ask what the problem was. Even too many trips to the toilet in a day were a matter of comment by him and what he called ‘persistent offenders’ almost had to get his permission to go. Absence through illness was not encouraged unless it was bad enough to be in bed and confirmed with a doctor’s certificate. It was standard practice to come to work with streaming colds, coughs, aches, pains, or even minor sports injuries like a sprained ankle.

There was one junior partner with pretentions to design, a ’Mitzi’ Pocock who had trained at the AA in London. In his well-cut and clearly expensive sports jacket and casual trousers and his upper-class drawling accent, he projected an effortless languid air of privileged entitlement. One of the things the practice did was modernising and upgrading existing banks. At one time Mitzi did a prestigious one in Southampton High Street, on the ground floor of an existing block. He faced the outside with expensive Pakistan Onyx Marble, a green coloured material shot through with swirls of grey-white and rust coloured blobs. For this prestigious conversion the bank asked the City Architect to formally open the building. After it was done, he, a blunt-spoken man from the midlands, took Mitzi aside and said “Mitzi- you have done this Town a dis-service; that marble looks as if it has bird shit all over it!”

The firm expected an employee to work hard but in the time I was there I learnt a lot on many different jobs. I was working for Rod Smith, a red-headed architect who had a slight speech impediment, who specialised in modernising and updating existing bank premises. I worked on a few National Provincial Banks with him. The interiors were high-pressure shop-fitting exercise that had to be done quickly, working unsocial hours at evenings and weekends, because banks did not want to close their doors to customers for any reason. The projects were planned with military precision, with as much being assembled of-site as possible. The workers who did interiors were specialist teams who could work together quickly and accurately to a high standard- and usually for long hours to get the job done. They knew all the short-cuts and tricks of the trade that only skilled men learn on the job over years of doing it.

Rod taught me a valuable lesson. He had given me the job of designing and detailing a new bank counter, all in mahogany and other expensive woods with brass fittings. He approved the sketches I did of my proposed design and told me to go ahead and work it up into finished detailed drawings. I did a real belt and braces job and when I gave him my drawings for approval, he said that we should go to site and see the carpenter and joiner who was going to make it. The middle-aged man looked carefully at my drawings and Rod asked him for his comments and suggestions. He pulled a pencil from behind his ear and with a few rapid sketches produced a design that was almost the same as mine but constructed in a far simpler manner. He said he could build this in less than half the time it would take him to build mine and at less than half the cost- and it hardly looked any different.

Afterwards Rod said that he had always found it a good idea that when he had a design proposal to go and talk to the people who were going to build it as, once they could see what he was trying to do, they usually had better, quicker, and cheaper ways of doing it. He was right. He also said that by involving the workmen at the design stage where possible he had found that in their minds it became ‘their’ design and would put in that extra effort to make it just right. He told me shortly afterwards about a bank he had refurbished in Christchurch, near Bournemouth where, he said, the carpenter and joiner actually brought his family in to see ‘his’ splendid new bank counter.

Rod’s brother-in-law was a trainee draughtsman with the firm. I forget- or did not know- his first name, as his surname was ‘Beer’, so he was always called ‘Keg’ or ‘Keggie’. His particular friend was the office boy called ‘Twink’. (Why? I don’t know.) They were a couple of cheerful lads and got around together outside work. One time Keg and Twink were given the urgent job of delivering drawings to a site somewhere near Oxford using the office car, which was a small rear-engined Hillman Imp.

Imps were notorious for being a tad difficult to drive as the heavy back end had a tendency to try and swop ends with the front if not driven carefully. On the way back from Oxford, on a winding road, this is exactly what happened, the car went into a slide, spun round, rolled over and ended up in a field. The two lads were fortunately unhurt although badly shaken, but the car was totally written off.

At the beginning of September, I handed in my notice to the firm, telling them I was going to the Oxford Polytechnic School of Architecture as a full-time student and, if all went well, I hoped to qualify as an architect in the summer of 1968.

In the summer of 1967, after a much disastrous year at Oxford, they re-employed me in their office in Southampton. Towards the end of the summer, I handed in my notice, telling them that I was about to get married and move to Manchester. A day or so later I was called into the office of the senior partner who, to my surprise, said they were about to open an office in Manchester. Would I be interested in working for them there and, if so, they could offer me a salary of UK£1,000 per year and, he added, if the office went well there would probably be promotion prospects for me. One thousand pounds salary was a considerable increase on my present pay but I very reluctantly had to say no. I thanked him and explained that I had just accepted a job in Manchester with the architects Sir Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley.

(Note: I did not say this to him, but my objective was not money or possible promotion, but to work for a nationally known practice to learn all the design and presentation techniques I knew I would need for when I started at Portsmouth School of Architecture in the autumn of 1968, as I was determined not to fail the second time.)

He wished me good luck for the future and, when I left the firm, the staff gave me a wedding present of a stainless steel serving dish with spikes in the middle for holding meat and indentations around the side for holding vegetables, which I still have- and Rod Smith came to my wedding in the church at Lyndhurst on the 23rd of September.

My First Building Revisited.

From 1962, age 19, I was employed as an architectural assistant at the architectural firm of Gutteridge and Gutteridge in whose offices were at 45, Westwood Road, Portswood, Southampton. At the age of twenty-one I designed my first complete building under the close watchful eye of a partner for a site in St. Michael’s Square, Southampton. It was a block of flats and maisonettes for the Southampton City Council and in April 2012 it was still there, as I re-visited it on my 69th birthday. I had designed parts of buildings before, or worked up a partner’s sketch design into a finished proposal but this was the first time I had a whole building together through all the stages from the client’s brief and site survey through to the final design and working drawings.

I had left the firm by the time construction started on site in 1966 but in 1970, for my own interest, I visited the completed building and interviewed the tenants to get some feed-back on what they through was right or wrong with the building and what improvements they could suggest. Forty-Two years later in 2012, on my 69th birthday and having been retired for three years, I visited the buildings again to see how they and the area had changed.

Tenant Feedback. In 1969 I contacted the City of Southampton Housing Department to obtain their approval for visiting completed building and interviewed the tenants. I wanted to get some feed-back on what they thought was right or wrong with the building and what improvements they could suggest. The housing department liked the idea and on the 27th of March 1969 the Housing manager, Mr Baker, wrote to all the tenants asking them to help. They were all pleased to help and over the next few weeks I interviewed them all. To get a conversation going I put together an initial list of basic questions, such as their names, ages, what their occupations were, where they had lived previously, why they had chosen to come and live here. I then moved on to getting their comments about the immediate area, the building, its surroundings and their own particular flat or maisonette, plus any issues they had or any improvements they could suggest. Each interview lasted approximately half an hour, after which, with their permission, I drew sketch plans of their rooms and furniture layouts and took interior photos. I asked each set of tenants the same range of simple questions to see if there were any common issues, complaints, or suggestions.

The ground floor single bedroom unit tenants were older people, some retired and either single or widowed; the two-bedroom maisonette tenants were all of working age and had at least one child living with them.

No 11 Mrs Overy. Widow with £8-2s a week pension.

No 12 Mr Scammell- £12 per week as a stock clerk.

No 13 Mr Budd- £15 per week as a day watchman and checker.

No 14 Mr Jones. Retired- did ‘everything’ in the docks and has £8 per week pension.

No 15 Mrs Wills. Cleaner- earning £9-8s per week.

No 16 Mr and Mrs Sutherland- she earned £4-18s per week as a cleaner; he was a casual labourer in the docks, and she had no idea of what he earned.

No 17 Mr and Mrs Marks. She earned £2-10s per week as a cleaner, he was a painter in the docks, and she had no idea of what he earned.

No 18 Mr and Mrs Taylor- He earned £25 per week as a pier attendant; she £8-10 as a shop assistant.

No 19 Mr and Mrs Wyatt- He earned £15-10s per week as a waiter at the Polygon Hotel.

No 20 Mr and Mrs Budd- Mrs Budd earned £6 per week as a cleaner; Mr Budd would not actually say what he earned a week as a floor-layer, but his wife indicated it was over £20 per week. Their son said he earned £18 per week as a floor layer. Both the father and son said they often worked over in Belgium and Holland, so I suspect their earnings were higher than they admitted. They were clearly the most affluent family in the block.

Rents for the ground floor flats were £3-10s-6p per week; for the first-floor maisonettes it was £4-9s-9p, including an outside store or £5-5s-10p a week including a garage. The average income of those in the flats was between £8 and £15 pounds per week; those in the maisonettes between £15 and £42 pounds per week. All the tenants were from unskilled lower-working class family backgrounds and had all previously lived in a succession of rented houses and flats that were sub-standard even by the low standards of the 1960s.

In 1966 the average weekly wage was UK£20 per week or £1040 Per annum. Doctors earned £100 per week and agricultural labourers £13. (As an architectural assistant I earned £7.) As the combined income of those at No 20 was at least twice the national average wage I asked Mr Budd at No 20 if he might ever consider in the future buying his own house. His answer was quite straightforward: “Why Should I? I have the guaranteed tenancy of this new house with and outside store and garage right in the middle of Southampton for only £5-5s-10p a week and the council are responsible for all the maintenance.”

I met Mr Catlan at the Housing Department on the 10th of April. He said most of their old people want accommodation either in the centre of town or near the docks. Many families have lived and worked in the docks area for several generations and even regard the Civic Centre as ‘too far out of town’. (Note- the Civic Centre is barely half a mile up the High Street from Southampton docks.) He said they are frightened of moving to any OAP’s housing on the outskirts of the city as it is too far from their family, friends, and familiar neighbourhood. The city tries to house as many as they possibly can in the docks slum-clearance redevelopment areas, such as St Michael’s Square development. He also said that the tenants’ have a view that anything ‘communal’ is somebody else’s problem so would not even try to look after the communal garden at the development but would expect the council to do it. He also admitted there was a serious problem with drunks and meths drinkers in the St Michael’s Square area and although it was a police problem all the other agencies keep batting the issue from one department to the other as they did not want to get involved with an intractable problem. He said that the old men who lived in the St Michael’s Square Hostel was a problem, and that no social worker would even try to rehabilitate them. He was also quite evasive on the question of the large groups of often drunken younger men who congregate in and around the St Michael’s Square development. He said it was impossible to keep them off public land and insisted that they did not belong to St Michael’s House so must come from somewhere else, so somehow implying to me without actually saying it that therefore the problem did not really exist or was nothing to do with the housing department.

Later that day I met Mrs Kimber, the council warden for the development. She forcefully told me that during the day-old boys (“Dirty old drunks”) from the nearby St Michael’s House hostel gather in the sheltered communal garden to smoke and drink. They drink beer, cider, both methylated and surgical spirit and, when their funds were really low, also drink a mixture of Brasso and hot water. They chuck the empty bottles about afterwards, often breaking them, leave lots of litter and urinate there, even in broad daylight. As the garden area they are in is private council property the police are supposed to deal with them but will not go near them as they all stink and are covered in vermin.

Mrs Kimber said another big problem was the nearby Simnel Street council building. She said it is a transit camp for problem people and families who have been evicted, usually with a history of violence, drink, drugs, and prostitution. The ‘working girls’ still ply their trade around the development, which is unpleasant for the occupants and, fortunately, there are no young children in the block. The drunks use the garden as a toilet, even in broad daylight, which is also very unpleasant, and the problem is particularly acute at the weekends. The Simnel Street flats was where younger unemployed men (petty criminals, thugs and worse) came from who also hang about the St Michael’s square development and cause trouble.

Mrs Kimber said there should have been a lockable gate in the opening through the pergola at the end of the building by the public garden and from the garage blocks accessed from Simnel Street to stop the through pedestrian traffic. She also commented that so far there seemed to be very little social interaction between the people living on the ground floor flats and those in the maisonettes; but it was early days yet as some of the tenants had only moved in less than eighteen months before. She commented that many working-class people had grown up with the attitude of ‘keeping themselves to themselves’. This often made it difficult for them to ask the council for help when they needed it or make new friends if they moved away from the few streets, they had grown up in.

Several tenants told me that, when they first saw the houses, they thought they were private as they did not look like council houses at all. Mr and Mrs Wyatt at No19 said that “These are the nicest council houses we have ever seen, and our son and daughter, who visit us frequently with their families, think the same”. (Note – it is very gratifying for me to hear remarks like that.) They also said it was very handy to the shops at the Bargate; only a five minute to the main shopping street. Many also liked the cream or white painted walls of the rooms as it made them seem “all light and airy.” They all said the public open space at the end of the block was a nice place to sit and watch the world go by on a sunny day was well-kept by Southampton City Parks and Gardens Department.


Those in the maisonettes were all very satisfied with the whole design and particularly liked the view of the square below from the front sitting room. The tenant of No19, Mr Marks, a 49-year-old painter said “There is only one place I am going too from here!” another, Mr and Mrs Sutherland, who live in No 16 with their two children sad “We have never been happier since being here.” (Also, very gratifying for me to hear remarks like that.)

* They all said the houses were warm and that in the winter they sometimes actually had to turn the heating down.

* Several said they would have liked to have the toilet separate from the bathroom.

* A common complaint was that there was not even a canopy over the front door to keep the weather out. Ideally, they would have liked a separate porch outside or a draught lobby door somewhere along the hall

* They would also have preferred it if the outside staircase had been enclosed as several of them said that the treads get quite slippery in icy weather.

* Another common theme was that he airing cupboard was too small.

* Several said they would have preferred to eat in the kitchen rather than the living-dining area, but it was too small.

* There are no outside clothes lines or space to put one. All the tenants came from a generation where airing clothes outside was a normal part of their lives.

* Soundproofing between the units not perfect. Mrs Wyatt at No 19 said “I can always hear when people are in next door- gives me a secure feeling to know someone else is there- not lonely at all.”

* Several the tenants in the maisonettes said they would have liked it if the council had put window boxes on the first-floor communal balcony access deck. Many of them had come from places with small outside gardens and they missed having flowers.


Those in the ground floor flats were all very happy with them as far as the layout was concerned but all had the same complaints:

* Firstly, the windows overlooking the square were too small and did not let in enough daylight.

* Secondly, the windowsills were too high above the floor level and they could not easily see out into the square while sitting down, so they felt rather enclosed and shut-in.

* Thirdly, and more serious, the raised planter in front was a problem. The council don’t maintain it or keep it planted and passers’ by kept throwing rubbish into it and, worse, the local drunks at chucking out time from the local pubs would sometimes vomit into the planter or, even worse, climb up onto it and peer into their windows.

* The baths should have handles on them to help in getting in and out.

* The kitchen is big enough for a small table for one. Prefer eating there than in the siting room – bed recess area.

A complaint from all the tenants was about the communal garden area directly behind the building. They complained about the drunks, the broken glass, the litter, its use as a public lavatory, people being sick, the general mess and the way that the route through the back was used as a short cut by people going to and from the nearby pubs. Nobody from the council seemed to maintain the area and all said that ‘they’ (the council) should do something about it. The garden area is not attached to any particular house or flat so none of the tenants seemed to regard it in any way as ‘theirs’; but something that was the sole responsibility of their landlords – the council.

An essential part of my study was to see how each tenant used their rooms, how they had furnished them and what, if any, decorations they had done. So, I drew a sketch plan, with additional notes, of each floor of each flat and maisonette, recording the layout of the furniture, and then took a photo of every room, all taken from the same position. (Note- unfortunately, 50 years ago I could not afford a camera with a wide-angle Lense, so had to use my cheap camera with a standard narrow-angle Lense, but at least they were in colour!).

Typical ground floor single bedroom flat: No 11 Mrs Overy.

Typical first floor two-bedroom maisonette. No 20 Mr and Mrs Budd.

Thursday, 5th April 2012- 42 years later. (From my notes at the time) My 69th birthday and off to the Isle of Wight for four days with Christine and her mother, Kathleen Cuthbert. It was an easy 120-mile drive from Bristol to Southampton Docks, via the M4, A34 and M3, to catch the 1.30 pm Red Funnel car ferry to East Cowes. As we had time in hand we drove to St Michael’s Square, which is only 5 minutes’ walk from the ferry terminal, as I wanted to see the first building that I ever designed. It was in 1963 and, aged 20, I was working as a trainee Architect for Gutteridge and Gutteridge, a Southampton firm of Architects whose offices were in 45, Westwood Road, Portswood. The job was to design and build a block of council houses for Southampton City Council on a vacant site in one corner of the square and to lay out a small public garden alongside Castle Way. The Council wanted 5 one-bedroom flats and 5 two-bedroom maisonettes facing on to the square with garages in a separate block to the rear of the site, entered from the adjacent Simnel Street. I was given the job to do and, under the supervision of a partner, was allowed to completely design the whole thing.

St Michael’s Square is in the heart of what was originally the old medieval town of Southampton and was laid out in the 13th century. On one side of the square stands St Michael’s Church, which is the oldest building in Southampton, and the sole survivor of the five churches in the medieval walled town. More than 250 years older than the town walls, the church has evolved over the centuries from its original cross-shape to the present rectangular plan, but the tower has remained virtually unchanged in 900 years. Following the Conquest in 1066 the Normans immediately realised the importance of Southampton as a port and set about building the castle, the inner core of the Bargate and the cruciform church dedicated to St. Michael, patron saint of Normandy. There is archaeological evidence that it was founded in 1070, and the earliest parts of the present Church are the lower storeys of the central tower.

In 1963 it was a run-down area, almost a slum and was a rough, tough, crime-ridden part of town with prostitutes and their pimps plying their trade openly every evening and weekends- and even during the day. It was not an area that you went to on your own at night, and particularly on Friday or Saturday evenings. There was a Victorian dock-workers pub near the square called The Juniper Berry, usually full of tough, hard-drinking, foul mouthed dock workers. We lads, just to feel daring, would sometimes to go there together on a Friday night as there was bound to be a fight which was usually broken up by the police. Many of the buildings in the surrounding streets were rented, in multiple-occupancy and were in a poor state of repair. The local inhabitants ranged from casual unskilled dock workers and labourers; the unemployed- or unemployable- to problem families, ‘ladies of the night’, petty criminals and people with drink and /or drug problems.

The Square itself then was a dirty, dismal place of cracked tarmac filled with parked cars. St Michael’s church was barely functioning and showed the effects of centuries of neglect and lack of maintenance. Opposite the church in a corner of the square and on upper Bugle Street, stood the first of several blocks of extremely run-down and neglected red-brick Victorian multi-story walk-up council flats. The previous year Guttridge’s had been employed to do some remedial work on the Simnel Street council buildings and I and another trainee had been given the job of surveying the flats. This was a block of Victorian one- and two-bedroom flats with very basic or primitive facilities including, I seem to recall, shared toilets. They appeared to be solely inhabited by screeching slatternly women in dirty, torn pinafores and headscarves, who had cigarettes permanently dangling from the corner of their mouths. The building was a screaming bedlam of loud radios, bawling parents, howling babies, and shouting young feral children, all with runny noses, dirty faces and ragged clothes.

The flats smelt of a heady mixture of damp, wet nappies and boiled cabbage laced with whiffs of sewage. Each flat had the very minimum of basic second-hand (or more) furniture, with dirty windows often covered by torn yellowed netting. Walls were running with damp, and some were mouldy. It was the first time I had ever seen beds with bugs and mites actually running over the dirty blankets and sheets. We were only able to do our measuring work by continually smoking the French Gitane cigarettes, which had a particularly strong-smelling and pungent tobacco, to mask the smells.

This then was the area and setting of my first solo design, and I was keen to see the changes to the area and how my building had stood the test of time since my last visit 42 years ago.

From 1960 I was studying architecture at a part-time day release and evening course at Southampton College of Art. The design tutor there was very keen on 1930s modernist architecture translated into the then current very fashionable Scandinavian brick buildings. The style relied heavily on simple geometric shapes, clean lines, good proportions, no decorative features, two colours of brickwork at the most and either a flat or mono-pitched roof. My design reflected this approach, and I carried on the geometric theme in the paving and planters in the adjacent public garden. I visually separated the garden from the rear of the houses with a pergola of brick piers linked together with a concrete beam. Along the front of the building, I put a raised planter, as I visualised it full of cascading green and flowering bushes, both as a colourful contrast to the rather stark elevations and also to give some separation of the ground floor flats from the street.

However, I heard several years later that drunks used to climb up on the planters to rap on the ground floor windows and used the planter as a place to dump their rubbish and empty bottles. The drunks appear to have gone but planters are still unused. The public open space at the end is well used the flower beds and planters flourishing with healthy looking plants. The pergola brick piers separating the public open space from the inner resident’s communal garden are now covered with climbing plants and look good. They shield the communal garden behind the houses; making it seem a more private area. The building itself still looks quite good and appears to have worn reasonably well, with no unsightly staining.

St Michael’s Square itself has been tidied up, has been re-paved and pedestrianised, with only one road along the west side. The whole area has undergone a renaissance and looks decidedly more middle-class than lower working class. No sign of vandalism, rubbish, and graffiti. The church has been repaired, the traffic-free square is now paved and planted with trees, and the surrounding buildings have all been restored. The grim Victorian hostel and flats are gone, replaced by modern flats, and it now appears to be a fashionable and desirable place to live, with houses and flats now selling for between £300,000 and £360,000.


  1. Letters approving my study.

B. List of Tenants – June 1969.

No. 11. Mrs Overy, a widow, retired.

No. 12. Mr Scammel aged 49, Stock Clerk.

No. 13. Mr Budd aged 88, day watchman and checker.

No. 14. Mr Jones aged 69, retired.

No. 15. Mrs Willis aged 66, a cleaner.

No. 16. Mr and Mrs Sutherland. He is 52, she is 47. He is a casual dock labourer; she is a cleaner.

No. 17. Mr and Mrs Marks. He is 49, she is 44. He is a painter in the docks, she is a cleaner.

No. 18. Mr and Mrs Taylor. He is 54, she is 47. He is a pier attendant; she is a shop assistant.

No. 19. Mr and Mrs Wyatt. They are both 61. He is a waiter at the Polygon Hotel, she does not work.

No. 20. Mr and Mrs Rogers. He is 55, she is 58, and their son is 23. She a cleaner, they are floor layers.

Oxford Polytechnic School of Architecture: 1966-67

In the spring of 1966, I applied to join the Oxford College of Technology School of Architecture as a full-time 5th year student for the academic year commencing in the autumn of 1966. I chose to apply there because previously, in the autumn of 1965, I had met the head of the school, Reginald Cave, who was an RIBA examiner for the External Student Intermediate Examination I had taken, and I seemed to have got on well with him.

In the autumn of 1965, I sat the week-long Royal Institute of British Architects Intermediate Exam for external students at its HQ in Portland Square, London. The final part of the Examination, on Friday afternoon, was a one-to-one oral examination of each student by an external examiner. It lasted about half an hour and the examiner discussed the exam papers and the design work he had done in the previous week and generally put the student through his paces.

One of the questions in the History paper was about Byzantine architecture and, as I recall, we had to write about any particular building that we were familiar with of that period.

Now as it happened in the summer of 1964, I had organised a two-week trip across Europe with a group of fellow part-time architectural students from Southampton. Travelling in a Commer van with windows we had eventually got to Italy and as far south as the City of Ravenna. There we visited the famous Basilica of San Vitale, begun in AD 526, which is said to be one of the most important early examples of Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Western Europe.

I had been really impressed by the building so had subsequently studied and so, in my answer to the exam question, I was not only able to write about it in some detail but also illustrate my answer with some tiny sketches. It turned out that the external examiner I was interviewed by was Reginald Cave, who was very interested in the history of architecture and knew a lot about the Byzantine period and particularly San Vitale. I had a most interesting conversation with him during which he asked me what my future plans were if I passed the intermediate examination. I told him of my hopes of someday going full-time for the final two years and he said that he was head of the School of Architecture at Oxford, and he currently had several students that had switched from part-time courses and maybe I would consider applying there. He seemed really friendly and approachable, and I said I would give it some serious thought. I found out later he had been at the school since 1945 and was very influential member of the RIBA. What did I have to lose?

So, in the spring of 1966, having passed the Intermediate examination, I applied for a full-time place commencing that autumn at Oxford Polytechnic and, after an interview with Reginald Cave and the 5th year course tutor Patrick Shiel, I was offered a place which I promptly accepted. On Saturday, 9th July 1966 I was best man at my friend Bob Fowler’s wedding to Pat in the church at Bishopstoke, Hampshire. For the occasion I had hired one of the new mini cars for the weekend and was accompanied by my then girlfriend and future first wife Margaret Francis Nicholls. On the Sunday 10th we drove up to Oxford and I rented a room in a council house in Headington, some fifteen minutes’ walk from the College of Technology for me to live in when I started my course that autumn. Afterwards we took time to have a brief look around Oxford and some of the colleges before heading off back to Bishopstoke.

Margaret was then in her second year as a full-time architectural student at Manchester University and her tutors reckoned that the quality of her work so far was such that they thought she might be the first female student for years to get a first-class honours pass. I had never been to a full-time college before and so had tried to get up to speed by finding out as much as I could from Margaret about her course, borrowing her textbooks, their suggested reading list and looking at the sort of schemes they were doing.

After five years in an office, I was well versed in the day-to-day work of architects: Client briefs, planning and building regulation requirements, materials, construction, detailing, specifications, programmes, and costs. My real weakness was both design and presentation as I had very little training or experience in this area in the small, traditional provincial offices I had worked in and – possibly naively in hindsight – had high hopes of full-time education filling this void.

To say that my year there was a disaster is to put it mildly. The contrast between working as a trainee draughtsman in a traditional drawing office to starting the part-time course in Architecture at Southampton College of Art in January 1960 was traumatic enough, but as nothing compared with the jump from part-time to full-time architectural education. The 5th year at Oxford had two studio masters; Patrick Shiel, a grey-haired, grey bearded man in his 50s with an insincere smile, and his assistant, whose name I have forgotten, who was Irish, in his early 30s, was slightly pudgy and overweight, and bit his nails down to the quick. The class had 25 students, all in their early twenties; 20 of them having been at the school from the beginning. The remaining five, including myself, were from a part-time background and ranged in age from 23 to 30. One was from Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, two from London, one from Bournemouth and me from Southampton.

My first attempts at design were really appalling and my first experience of the college approach to design was a baptism of fire. The first class one-week project was the interior design of an existing small shop. We were given a general brief plus a plan and section of the existing shop, and I produced my version of the usual shop-fit-outs I had done in the office which I knew worked well, was buildable, economic, and acceptable to the planners. When I saw my work hanging on the wall next to the work of the full-time students I was taken aback, seeing at once that mine was a hopeless design. The work of the full-time students was eye-catching but to my eye were all colourful, sketchy presentation with no substance. Most of them had not even pretended to follow the brief or even stay within the perimeter of the plan and sections of the existing shop we had been given. In the real world they would have failed on planning, building and fire regulations, layout, construction, and cost grounds. My practical scheme- and those of the other ex-part time students- were all failed outright while the more sketch-like, colourful, outlandish, and unbuildable the proposals the other students were the better pass marks they received. When I and the other ex-part timers raised the issue of sticking to the given brief and complying with Building Regulations and statutory requirements, our comments were brushed aside by Patrick Shiel as ‘totally irrelevant’. So why bother to give us a brief in the first place?

My next project, lasting one month, was even worse, and gave me a reality check. We were given the brief for designing a secondary school in Botswana, a land-locked country in Africa, just to the North of South Africa. The school was to accommodate about 200 pupils in a provincial settlement and the site was on a grass-covered, bare, treeless hill about 200 feet high with a river at the bottom. The background information said that the country had no industry, no roads or infrastructure outside its small capital city, no construction industry as we understood it in the West, no core of trained building workers, and anything other than the most basic building materials had to be expensively imported via South Africa. The building had to be low cost, reflect the social and economic conditions of the country, and take account of the climate.

Fortunately, one of the newly-arrived mature students had spent a year working in Botswana- and even panned for gold in his spare time- and was able to give us first-hand information of the actual conditions in the country which, at that time, was very “third world” or as it would be referred to in these more politically correct times (2020) as an “emerging economy”.

From the college library (this was decades before the internet) I found out that most buildings by the native population were either round huts built of straw or thatch or made out of crude mudbricks. From my time in Australia in the early 1950s I knew that one material that was readily available, cheap, and easily transported and available was corrugated iron sheeting. When this was used as a pitched roof with an air gap underneath in Australian settler’s cabins it both reflected the hot sun and reduced heat penetration into the building below.

I had also come across a piece of Victorian machinery in a book I had read called a reciprocating pump. This ingenious invention was a way of pumping water from a river up to a higher level. The force of the river water operated two pistons or plungers which gradually forced the water up a pipe to the level required. Once the pump was primed and started it operation was completely automatic, powered by the river alone and worked 24/7.

I designed what I thought was a simple scheme: First constructing a narrow access road that wound around the hill from the bottom to the top where on the levelled-out hilltop I placed the main school hall and the playground. Along both sides of the narrow access road, I placed an informal series of detached, single-storey rectangular buildings, a bit like the 1920s and 30s ribbon development in the UK. They were simply built of sun-baked mud bricks with a corrugated iron roof and the various buildings housed the classrooms, toilets, workshops, storerooms, staff rooms, kitchen, and dining room. Using the reciprocating pump, the water from the river was pumped to a holding tank at the top which was then fed all the toilets, taps, showers, and the kitchen before finally going back into the river below, but downriver from the pump.

When all the schemes were hung up in the studio prior to the inspection and marking by the year tutor I immediately saw that my scheme was very crude and my presentation drawings, the sort of thing we produced in offices for planning committees, was very poor compared with most of the other students. My simple proposal was not an “architectural design” but I thought it answered most of the points in the brief particularly that of being cheap, of simple construction using local materials and being capable of being built in stages by unskilled local labour.

The scheme that was effusively judged to be ‘outstandingly the best’ by the year tutor was a huge plain concrete slab of a building, like a horizontal skyscraper; raised off the ground on concrete columns; placed on the top of the hill and dramatically cantilevering out both sides. It was clearly based on a cross between the 1952 modernist inspired Unité d’habitation in Marseille by Le Corbusier and the 1960s Brutalist architecture then appearing in town centres and on university campuses in the UK.

The scheme that was judged to be second best had no drawings at all. The student had constructed up against the studio wall a crude half section of a round hut with a conical roof about 6 feet in diameter and high. He had covered the outside of the curved wall section with straw and the roof with grass. The open door to the hut was strewn with sand and shells and inside the door was a pile of books representing “study” and “learning”.

I, and the other new students, pointed out that, regarding the first scheme it had not followed the brief, gave no clue how it worked as a school and that it would be very expensive as there was not even a cement plant in Botswana, let alone a contractor or workforce for constructing such a sophisticated building. As regards the second scheme we said that there were no drawings of the overall project or any information to judge its relevance to the design brief.

Our objections were again brushed aside as “totally irrelevant” and our own schemes were quickly reviewed and my and two others were “failed” while two others “just” passed. I was in my early twenties and very naive. I had thought that going to college full-time I would learn from knowledgeable and dedicated teachers, who encouraged, motivated, and inspired their students, but found the reality so very much different.

And so, the year went on, from bad to worse. We students who had transferred from part-time courses found it very difficult to even get studio time with either the year master or his assistant for them to look and comment on our individual designs as they developed- as they were supposed to do to all the students. It was also galling to find out later that the year master, Patrick Sheil, would regularly go around to his three or four favourite student’s lodgings to both comment on and make suggestions on their designs as they developed. For the rest of us there was no attempt to teach design or even, at the start of a particular project, to show students photographs of excellent examples of similar projects that had already been built around the world to both motivate and fire up their imaginations. There were not even any lessons or even guidance on presentation skills, we newcomers were just left to sink or swim.

At the end of the summer term each student, with his portfolio, was interviewed by the Head, Reginald Cave, in his office. Having by then realised that presentation, not content, was all that mattered I had found the time to redo a couple of my earlier schemes to indicate I could do better. Cave looked at them and then, after a pregnant pause, said that in his judgement my work was just not good enough. However, he thought that if I worked very hard, in time I might make a good architectural assistant. As he could discern no progress over the year, he had no option other than to fail me and ask me to leave the school.

It was a traumatic moment for me, and I left his office, spoke to nobody, went back to my digs where my bag was fortunately already packed ready to leave the next day. I had already paid my landlord, so I picked up my bag, went to the railway station and caught the next train back to Eastleigh.

It was nearly 35 years later before I was in Oxford again and made it my business to drive to the Polytechnic- by this time it had upgraded to first a Polytechnic in 1970 and then Oxford Brooks University in 2012- and was surprised how much smaller the buildings were from the outside than I had remembered. Even then, so much later, I still felt very uncomfortable just being outside the building, so did not stay there long.

Another thread to this story is that I had become increasingly involved with Margaret Francis Nicholls, a girl from Totton, the daughter of the village chemist of Lyndhurst, Brian Nicholls. I had met her in the summer of 1965 when, at the end of her first year at university, she came to work for the summer at the firm of Gutteridge and Gutteridge in Portswood, Southampton, where I was then employed as an architectural assistant. We hit it off from the word go and had been together ever since and by the summer of 1967 she had completed her second year as an architectural student at Manchester University School of Architecture.

During 1966-67 I had seen her in the college holidays back at Bishopstoke and had communicated by telephone and letters- there were no mobile phones, texts or emails then- and had even managed twice to go up to Manchester to see her for a couple of weekends. She also came down to Oxford to see me twice and stayed with my friends Bob and Pat Fowler who were then living in River House, St Ebbes- now long since demolished.

The trip to and from Manchester by train from Oxford was not simple or quick and took several hours. I had to catch a train to Birmingham Level Station and then walk up to Birmingham High Level station to catch the train to Manchester. The trains, as was and still is the case with British Rail, rarely co-ordinated so I usually had quite a wait between trains, sometimes an hour or more.

Margaret was very aware of my problems at Oxford and, over the year, had been very supportive. She and I met up as soon as she came home to Totton for the summer and came up with a possible course of action. I was still determined to be an architect and, having talked through my issues at college and we agreed that primarily my problem with full time architectural education (at least that which I had experiences at Oxford Polytechnic) was that their aims and objectives were light years away from the everyday mundane practical life of work in a small, provincial architects’ offices I had worked in for the last six years.

The course at Oxford concentrated almost exclusively on pure design and presentation; having a design or client brief, or even adhering to one; complying with planning and building regulations, a budget, construction, detailing, materials or even buildability came a long way down their list of priorities. I decide that before I tried a full-time course again, I needed a year working in some nationally or even internationally known architectural design practice to both learn all the latest cutting-edge architectural ideas and to hone my abysmal presentation skills- and Manchester, Margaret suggested, might just be the place I was looking for.

Manchester had several national and internationally known firms of architects; far removed from the local provincial firms of Winchester and Southampton. They were constantly advertising for experienced staff and I, with six years’ office experience and having passed the RIBA Intermediate exam, should have no problem in getting a job there. By moving to Manchester and getting a flat there I would not only be near her but would also learn all about proper presentation plus valuable experience working on major design projects. The next time I went to a full-time course I wanted to be tuned up and mentally in a position that there would be no question that I would not pass.

On my return to my mothers’ home at Bishopstoke, and after a few days at home to recover from my disappointment, I went to consult the Polish architect Mr Hudek, my mentor and tutor on the part time architectural course at Southampton College of Art. He was the one who, since first we met when he was a part-time tutor at Southampton College of Art in 1960, had encouraged me to believe I could become an architect. I wanted to get his opinion on whether my goal should still be to become an architect or, as Cave had said, to just remain as an architectural draughtsman. I took my portfolio along and he made a brutal but accurate assessment of my work (it was crap!). However, he disagreed that there had been no improvement over the year and said that, with the right training, there was no reason I could not become an architect.

While saying that my design and presentation skills were poor- which I agreed with- he firmly disagreed with Mr Cave’s opinion. By that time, he was a full-time lecturer at Portsmouth Polytechnic School of Architecture, and he soon arranged a meeting for me with the deputy head of the school, Jack (whose last name I have forgotten). In the early 1960s Jack had done some part-time lecturing at Southampton and remembered me. He agreed with Mr Hudeks’ assessment of my abysmal design and presentation skills but said that was just a matter of me being taught and he could see no reason why, if I was prepared to work hard, that I could not qualify as an architect. He immediately offered me a place to repeat the 4th year and for the final 5th year, starting next term in the autumn of 1967.

In further discussions with Mr Hudek, he agreed that I would benefit from a year in a nationally known architectural design practice. He thought Margaret’s idea of me moving to Manchester for a year was a good one and suggested the names of several internationally known practices in Manchester. He then suggested to Jack that I deferred for a year until the autumn of 1968, which Jack readily agreed to. When Jack’s offer was confirmed in writing everything seemed to fall into place and I was ready to crack on with the next phase of my career, thanks to Mr Hudek. I had what seemed to be a sound plan – what could go wrong?

Addendum. I must record that there was only one lecturer at the Oxford School of Architecture I really rated who taught sanitation and drainage. He was a down-to-earth man in his early 50s, from a working-class background who had started off working on building sites and had, years before, become a lecture what was then the Oxford College of Technology. This turned into Oxford Polytechnic in 1970 and into Oxford Brookes University in 1992. I cannot remember his name, but he drove a motorcycle with side car and wore a leather coat and large leather gloves. He had written a book or two on the subject and he was the only lecturer I have ever listened to who made sanitation and drainage sound interesting. The way he rolled words like ‘flotulent matter’ (liquid sewage with solids in it) off his tongue kept us all in stitches. However, with the school trying to become more ‘academic’ and move away from its original technical collage roots and pushing to become a university, and I suppose his working-class background and manner he did not fit the more refined academic image they were trying to promote. He was gradually being side-lined and several years after I left, I heard he had committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the college.

Southampton- summer 1967

After my disastrous year of 1966-67 at Oxford School of Architecture as a full-time student I came back home to live with my mother at Bishopstoke. I contacted W H Saunders, the architectural firm in Southampton I had worked for in 1966 before going to college. They immediately offered me a job and I was back at work within a week of arriving back at home in Bishopstoke.

At end of August, I handed in my notice to the firm, telling them I was about to get married and move to Manchester. A day or so later I was called into the office of the senior partner who, to my surprise, said they were about to open an office in Manchester. Would I be interested in working for them there and, if so, they could offer me a salary of UK£1,000 per year and, he added, if the office went well there would probably be promotion prospects for me. One thousand pounds salary was a considerable increase on my present pay but I very reluctantly had to say no. I thanked him and explained that I had just accepted a job in Manchester.

This was not quite true. I had sent my CV to several prominent practices there and they asked me to get in touch when I arrived. My objective was not money or possible promotion, but to work for a nationally known practice to learn all the design and presentation techniques I knew I would need for when I started at Portsmouth School of Architecture in the autumn of 1968, as I was determined not to fail the second time.

He wished me good luck for the future and, when I left the firm, the staff gave me a wedding present of a stainless-steel serving dish with spikes in the middle for holding meat and indentations around the side for holding vegetables, which I still have- and Rod Smith came to my wedding in the church at Lyndhurst on the 23rd of September.

Cream Crackered.

Margaret Nicholls, my then girlfriend and future first wife, had completed her second year at Manchester University School of Architecture. In the summer of 1967, after my disastrous year as a full-time architectural student at Oxford school of Architecture I was investigating the possibility of moving to Manchester, firstly to be nearer Margaret and, secondly, to possibly work for one of the nationally known architectural practices there to gain wider experience. We had been going around together for over a year and. although at the end of June she could have come back by train to Southampton and sent her trunk by British Road services, I jumped at the chance to drive the 225 miles to Manchester one weekend to both to collect her and to see the city.

I had passed my driving test the previous year but my only driving experience was within ten miles of where I lived with my mother and sister in the village of Bishopstoke, Hampshire. I had owned a car for a short time; a clapped-out pre-war Fiat 500 that spent more time in the garage than on the road and usually got around on my motorbike.

In the summer of 1967, I was working in Southampton for W H Saunders Architects, and so took a half day off on the Friday afternoon; working until the 1pm lunch break, before collecting the large Ford Cortina estate car I had rented. I was on the road and heading north by about 2pm and had worked out that the journey would possibly take me about four hours. Wrong!

It was the time before satellite navigation and the motorway network; signposting was not good, and I only had a basic map and Margaret’s address in Manchester. My plan was to drive north, roughly up the middle of England, via Oxford, Banbury, Warwick, and Tamworth to join the new motorway somewhere north of Birmingham. I had never driven such a big, unwieldy, and powerful car and on the intricate network of A, B and minor roads I kept getting lost and frequently having to back-track. At one point I found myself up a narrow country road and had to turn the car around in a very tight place; finishing up shaking and running with sweat. The motorway, when I finally reached it, was a whole new experience, never having driven on one before. The whole journey took me seven hours and I finally arrived outside Margaret’s flat at 9pm, completely cream crackered.

Margaret was an excellent cook and had prepared a gala meal for my arrival, which had nearly spoilt because of my very late arrival. I ate it and, while she cleared the table, I stretched out on the sofa and knew no more until I woke up the next morning, extremely stiff and with very sore muscles. Apparently, Margaret had come back into the room and found me dead to the world and, after trying to wake me up, had thrown a blanket over me and gone to bed.

The next day we drove over to see my cousin Chris King and his wife Judy for lunch. My mother, sister and I had been totally out of touch with anybody in the wider King family or, to be accurate, they all severed any contact with us, soon after my father left us in the mid-1950s. I cannot remember where we got his address from but found that he lived in the Manchester suburb of Gorton and that both he and his wife were students at the University of Salford. I wrote and said I was coming to Manchester for the weekend, and he replied, inviting Margaret and me to lunch on the Saturday.

Chris- who is about a year younger than me, and Judy lived in a badly maintained, almost run-down rented, small Victorian terrace house on a narrow, unmade cul-de-sac road and Judy’s parents lived somewhere in the same area. On the way to see them we passed a large stadium, possibly Belle Vue, where there was a sign advertising dog-racing. As students, with one child, they were always very hard up, and Chris told me that the first thing they always did when a terms grant arrived for them was to pay the landlord in advance so at least they would know they had a roof over their heads for another few months. We found we all got on very well and they kindly said that if I did move to Manchester to work, I could stay with them to start with until I found a bedsit or small flat of my own.

On the Sunday Margaret and I drove back to Southampton, and with her navigating, we did the journey in just over four hours. The things we did in our early 20s when we thought we knew and could do anything!

MANCHESTER: September 1967 to summer 1968.

Margaret and I arrived in Manchester on the Monday, 25th September 1967, two days after our wedding in Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, Hampshire. I was driving my rather battered light grey Ford Anglia van in the back of which were all our worldly goods – or sufficient for us (we hoped) to set up home somewhere as a married couple. The priority was first, to find a place to live and, second, for me to get a job. Margaret was due to start her 3rd year as an architectural student at Manchester University School of Architecture in early October so wherever we lived had to be in easy reach of the campus on Oxford Road, which was about a mile south of the City Centre. The previous year Margaret had lived in the Owens Park University Halls of Residence at Fallowfield, about a mile south of the University campus on the Wilmslow Road, which was an extension of Oxford Road. There was a frequent bus service straight into central Manchester which passed through the University campus; or it was walkable for energetic students.

For our first three nights in Manchester Margaret and I stayed with my cousin, Chris King, and his wife Judy. Chris is a year younger than me and both he and Judy were students; he was studying fresh water micro-biology, and she was studying bees. When they emigrated to Brisbane, Australia several years later, they both had doctorates and Judy became a world authority on bees. In September 1967 they were living in very straightened circumstances with their two young children in a very small Victorian terrace house in Gorton, about two miles southeast of the city centre. They only had a single bed in their third bedroom, so it was a bit of a squash for Margaret and me, but within two days we had found and secured a one-bedroom flat in the suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, three miles south-west of the city centre.

Before our wedding I had already contacted several architectural practices in Manchester to see if there were any job vacancies and had been asked to submit my CV to several of them. I had contacted them again on arrival and had some interviews arranged for the following week when we could also move into our flat. So, for the rest of the week, we took off for the Lake District for a few days – a delayed honeymoon. Unfortunately, the weather turned against us and a lot of the time it was drizzling with rain and quite cold. We spent a lot of time driving around and, when the sun occasionally broke through, we could see how beautiful the countryside and lakes were and why people raved about it.

At one lake we had a half-hour trip on a small tourist boat. We were the only passengers and memorable only for the ‘skipper’ cheerfully both giving us a running commentary about and pointing out all the amazing sights we could see – if only the mist and rain would clear.

Our flat at 15, Edge Lane was on the first floor on the left-hand side of the building. Above the entrance porch was a small room that had been converted into a kitchenette. Next to it was our living-dining room, which had originally been a large double bedroom with two windows. At the far end of the room was a door to a short corridor, with the flat entrance door on the right, leading from the first-floor landing and on the left a door to a small internal bathroom. At the end of the corridor was a door to a small double bedroom, with a window overlooking what had been the rear garden. The only heating was a coal fire in the front living-dining room and Ascot-type gas water heaters in the bathroom and kitchenette. The gates to the property had been removed and the front garden had been roughly filled with hardcore and turned into a car park for the residents’ cars.

Once Chorlton-cum-Hardy had been a quite grand area of quite large semi-detached Victorian and Edwardian properties, but it had gone down in the world and, by the 1960s, was not seen as a desirable place to live. Our flat was in a typical house of the period; a substantial, well-built late Victorian or early Edwardian semi-detached property that had seen far better days; needed a lot of upgrading and modernising and therefore was not a sought-after property. The landlord had no doubt bought it cheaply and then converted as cheaply as possible into four single-bed flats, two per floor. It was crude, quite basic, with poor decorations and even worse lighting – but it we could (just) afford the rent and it was a short bus ride to both the University campus and the city centre.

The landlord, a local shopkeeper, had furnished the place with second-hand (or more) furniture purchased at auctions. Much of it was large, heavy, and ornate, old Victorian pieces originally polished but for decades often covered with layers and layers of varnish. In the fashionable, Habitat-orientated swinging sixties Victorian furniture and fittings were out of favour, so only fetched a few pounds at auctions – but probably today (2020) they would be collectors’ items. Our living-dining room had a very large yellow oak dining table, complete with four matching chairs and a King and Queen carver chair, which took up a great deal of space. As the living-dining room was the only one we could heat over the winter we moved the narrow double bed from the back bedroom into the back corner of the room, leaving the rear bedroom as storage for our things.

When we left the flat in the summer of 1968, I had become quite fond of the large oak carver chair so was pleased when the landlord agreed to sell it to me for five shillings (25pin 2021 decimal coinage). In 1969 when living in Gosport, Portsmouth, I stripped the chair down and painted in a glossy red and Margaret made a new seat and back panel for it. I still have that chair today in 2020.

Shortly after moving into the flat, I got a job with the architectural firm of Wilson and Womersley in their offices in 117-119 Portland Street in the city centre, on the top floor of a Victorian office building. The University campus was less than half a mile to the south of my office and each morning the same bus from Chorlton-cum-Hardy took Margaret to the University and me to Portland Street

I was assigned to the team that was working on the design and development of the Precinct Centre, the central building for the University campus under the leadership of an associate, Peter Wright. One of the team was the architect Susan Neary and whose husband, Peter, was an architect and planner who worked in the Manchester City Architect’s Department. We were all about the same age and got on well together and spent time together outside work. Susan’s parents lived on a small holding in Tyddyn Waen, Llangaffo, Anglesea, Wales, and in April 1968, they invited us there for the weekend. Susan’s parent’s house was quite small, so Margaret and I stayed in the caravan in the adjacent field, which they rented out to supplement their income from their smallholding.

Neither of us had been to Anglesey before and we had a brilliant time being shown around; definitely a place to come back to.

In the summer of 1968, our busy time in Manchester came to an end and we had to relocate to Portsmouth ready for me to start the 5th year at Portsmouth Polytechnic School of Architecture in the autumn. We said goodbye to our friends and Chris and Judy King and packed all our belongings into the van, including the carver chair roped onto the roof rack. For some reason I had to stay on a week longer to finish something at work so stayed with a work colleague, George, in his nearby flat. Margaret gamely set off on her own in the heavily loaded van on the 225-mile drive south to her home in Totton, where we were going to stay while we looked for somewhere to rent in Portsmouth. Her parents kindly met her halfway – probably at a motorway service station – and saw her safely home. At the end of the week George drove me to Manchester Airport and I caught a flight to Southampton (Eastleigh) Airport, where I was met by Margaret.


In 1964 Louis Womersley resigned as City Architect of Sheffield to become a partner in private practice with Hugh Wilson (later Sir Hugh) in the architectural firm of Wilson and Womersley based in Manchester. With him came six of his Sheffield architectural staff, including Jack Lynn and J. Stuart Mackie- the designers of the iconic Park Hill Estate. In 1967 the firm also had offices in London; Cumbernauld, Scotland; Middlesbrough in Northeast England and in Montreal, Canada.

Wilson and Womersley produced the overall Master Plan for the new Manchester University Precinct, which unified the Manchester Business School, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester University and City Colleges. The Manchester Education Precinct Plan covered a larger area than any campus in Europe, extending two-and-a -half miles out of the city centre and covering several square miles. The combined population of staff and students from the six or seven institutions was then about 25,000.

It was partly to try to unify the overall campus plan that the next phase, Precinct Centre, was conceived. It was sited at a ‘hinge point’ between the colleges and residences to provide both a social and commercial heart to the campus, linked together by an elevated pedestrian walkway system 6m (19.5 feet) above the ground level. The Precinct Centre incorporated a mix of a business school, offices, a shopping centre at the second-floor level and six floors of student accommodation above the third level; all designed with the idea of creating a lively University hub. Despite difficulties connecting to adjacent buildings the overall planning of the campus, with its careful consideration to separating pedestrian from car, was well received. It was based on Wilson and Womersley’s detailed survey and analysis of human and vehicular traffic, parking requirements, public transport, the environment and both the existing and proposed buildings to facilitate free movement of its present and future projected population.

The adjacent individual sites, for the new Maths and Computer Science buildings, the Business School, and the Royal College of Music, were all to be linked directly to the Precinct Centre by the elevated walkway system which was enough to make the shopping gallery part of the project viable when it opened in 1972, but only just. It needed the walkway links extended to all the future buildings on the campus to ensure its success.

A notable exception was the adjacent new School of Architecture and Planning; opened in 1970 and is now, in 2020, known as the Kantorowich Building. It was jointly designed by the then two professors of architecture, N. L. Hanson and R. H. Kantorowich and went totally against even the spirit of the campus master plan; they conceived it as a stand-alone ground-level project with no connection at all to the proposed upper walkway system. When I was studying there in 1972-3 for my master’s degree in urban design I was told by my Professor, Peter Dovell (1923-2013), that one of the professors, I forget which, was very keen on ancient Egyptian architecture and the inspiration for the building was an Egyptian temple.

The overall W&W campus Master Plan proposed that eventually the walkway system would be extended to the south of the campus through the area known as All Saints and on to the city centre. This was thwarted by the reluctance of the new Polytechnic on the south end of the campus to co-operate, and so a key component of the plan was eventually abandoned. So, this, and the refusal of other institutions to develop the upper-level walkway system, effectively ended any future possibility of the shopping arcade in the Precinct Centre being financially successful. Starved of through routes and the continuous flow of potential customers it was in a cul-de-sac and within a few years shops there soon struggled to even survive.

In October 1967 I joined the firm as a newly married 24-year-old experienced assistant architect with an annual salary, according to my salary slip dated the 28th August1968, of UK£1,100- equivalent to UK£19,203 in 2020. I became part of the 5-man team working on the detailed design, development and working drawings of the proposed Precinct Centre. The team led by an associate, Peter Wright; there was one recently qualified architect, Susan Neary and, including me, three assistant architects who had all passed the RIBA intermediate exam. In retrospect what was unusual was how young the team was to be working on such a major commission; Peter was perhaps thirty and the rest of us were in our mid-twenties. These age ranges were replicated in the other teams, such as the Hulme 5 project, led by Mike Hyde. Other team leaders were in their mid-thirties; Tom Howcroft, a landscape architect, was in his late thirties or early 40s. The two oldest people in the office were Bill Armstrong, the office manager, who was in his late forties and, of course, Louis Womersley, who was fifty-eight.

Louis Womersley ran the office in a very relaxed and enlightened way, which was so different from the strict, hierarchical offices I had worked in previously. In those offices only the partners made design decisions; we were just told what to do. In the W&W office all the team members were expected to contribute to the development of the design, so there was a constant stream of ideas and suggestions kicked around in the team, and between the other teams in the office, of how to sharpen up aspects of the design, the layout, the construction, or the details. Our suggestions were discussed, accepted, modified, or rejected- but we were all involved and were all listened to.

Peter was in charge of the overall concept; co-ordinating, checking and approving all the detailed working drawings all of us produced for the project; Susan Neary was responsible for the student accommodation, the two assistant architects- whose names I have forgotten- were each responsible for the office and shopping elements; the office landscape architect handled the rooftop garden design and my responsibility was the working drawings of the external envelope plus producing all the presentation drawings of the final building.

It was the friendliest office I had worked in, and we were all on first-name terms with each other, except being slightly more formal with Bill Armstrong and Louis Womersley; always calling them “Mr”- but while being slightly more distant figures were both very approachable and helpful. Womersley was also very good at delegating. His approach was that his role was to solve problems and difficulties; so, he did not want to hear from anyone unless there was an issue that needed his input. If he didn’t hear from a team, he assumed that we were all doing our jobs and the project was on schedule.

Each team worked in areas defined by chest-high timber partitions and most Friday afternoon, after lunch, Womersley would circulate around the office. His face would appear over a partition, and he would just ask “Anything anybody needs to talk to me about?” If anyone said yes, he would immediately agree a time that afternoon to discuss it. He had regular updates by the associates/team leaders but otherwise he and Bill left the teams alone to get on with their work; not constantly hassling us as was usual in other offices. The result was that we, all young and keen, worked like hell. If we had to work late to meet some unexpected deadline, we did it. Womersley also had a rule that anyone who worked after 8pm could get a meal on the firm. So, an individual or the whole team would get a carry-out Chinese or Indian meal from one of the nearby restaurants when working late. I remember that to meet some deadline we all had to work through one weekend. On the Monday we all staggered into the office; all looking a little grey-faced. About an hour later Mr Womersley’s face appeared over our partition. He said “What are you all doing here? Off you go- I don’t want to see you until Wednesday.”

Another time I was at a meeting with him somewhere else to discuss something to do with the exterior design. In the meeting I was asked a question that stumped me. I cannot remember what it was, but it involved something else. I had assumed that something had been done and, with a sinking feeling, I realised that it hadn’t- and it was my responsibility as I should have checked. Mr Womersley smoked cheroots and, in the pause that followed, he reached into the inside pocket of the suit he always wore and pulled out a packet. He slowly opened it, selected a cheroot then, as we all watched, he peeled of the wrapping and went through a routine of smelling it, rolling it between his fingers, putting it in his mouth, striking a match and lighting it. Taking a deep inhalation of smoke he took the cheroot out of his mouth, gazed at the glowing end, puffed out a cloud of smoke and then said, “I’m sorry, what was the question again?” The question was posed again, and he came up with a perfectly reasonable answer that got me out of a hole. Afterwards, back at the office, he had a word with me in private; the essence of which was “Never assume, always check.” A well-deserved ticking-off and more effective for being done quietly and reasonably; a lesson I have never forgotten.

In retrospect during my year there I not only worked harder and (voluntarily) for longer hours but I also learned more about the design process, building planning, co-ordination between disciplines, precise detailing, presentation drawings and model making than at any previous architectural firm or college course- and very few since. In a career of fifty years (1959-2009) in architecture, including spells in the Middle and Far East, I worked with some thirty architectural practices, both Local authority and private firms, and I still in 2020 rate W&W one of the best three architectural practices I worked for, the other two being BDP in Manchester and Sheppard Robson and Partners in London.

The Precinct Centre was the largest, most complex, prestigious, and expensive building that I had worked on, with an estimated cost of UK£1.5 million in 1967- equivalent to UK£23 million in 2020. The building was unique in that it was not only the pivotal building of the University campus, from which all the upper level pedestrian walkways were to radiate out across the campus, but also because of its unusual mix of a business school, student flats, commercial offices, a glass-roofed shopping square at second floor leading to a ‘bridge,’ with shops and a restaurant, spanning Oxford Street, and a rooftop garden at the third level. The main access from ground level to second floor pedestrian circulation level was from the junction of Oxford Road and Booth Street West, where there was a flight of covered stairs and an escalator. Servicing for the complex was via an internal cul-de-sac service road, accessed from off Booth Street, with a turntable at the end to turn delivery vehicles.

The glass stair towers on the north elevation, facing Booth Street, were a directly influenced by the glass ones I had detailed at Southampton University’s Glen Eyre student halls of residences in 1965. The glass roof over the shopping square was my inspiration for the glass roof I used in my (unbuilt) design in the late1970s for the proposed new theatre which was part of my overall design for the Tuen Mun New Town Centre in Hong Kong.

My main reservation in 1967 about the Precinct Centre, and this is not just talking with hindsight, was about the proposed campus-wide upper-level pedestrian walkway system 6M (19.5 feet) above ground level. To establish this as a successful campus-wide norm it needed over-arching Manchester Education Precinct authority- like a New Town Authority- to insist that all other department, schools, and institutions on the campus must comply with this essential component of the Master Plan. There was no such authority so the implementation of the “Walkways in the Sky” was piecemeal. It was totally dependent on the agreement and continuing co-operation of all the individual- and often competing- departments, schools within Manchester University, such as the Business School and the School of Architecture, and the larger institutions, such as the Institute of Science and Technology. Wilson and Womersley had no control or influence over them, and they had no reason to voluntarily co-operate with W&W- and they didn’t.

For the successful segregation of people from traffic an idealistic concept like ‘Walkways in the Sky’ can be incorporated reasonably well on hilly sites where the walkways can quite naturally intersect at key points with the rising or falling ground or, as in my 1969 student scheme for the expansion of the village of Wickham, Hampshire, by using a disused railway embankment as a communal pedestrian route from which all the cross-routes stepped down from. Upper-level walkways can also work within a private, gated high-density, high-rise development. There the main users are the residents, and they have a common interest, through their management company, of both the maintenance of the walkways and keeping them clean and litter-free.

It proved extremely challenging to implement an upper-level pedestrian walkway system effectively on a flat site like the Manchester Education Precinct. Not only were the other participants on the campus unwilling to co-operate but also it is very difficult to get the public at street level to percolate naturally to the upper level 6M (19.5 feet) above the ground.

For my architectural thesis in 1970 at Portsmouth School of Architecture I did a redevelopment scheme on a large site immediately to the south of the Manchester University campus; between it and the city centre. I named it MEPSAC- Manchester University Precinct Social and Activity Centre, in which vehicular traffic and pedestrian were horizontally, rather than vertically, as on the Manchester University campus scheme, with all the main pedestrian routes within and through the development being at ground level.

When writing this I found two reviews, written several decades later, of both the Manchester Education Precinct master plan and the Precinct Centre.

The first one said: “As well as the politics involved in working with several disunited institutions, there were huge physical problems in developing the Manchester Education Precinct. The Wilson and Womersley team encountered great difficulty implementing the vehicle separation which had become their trademark policy. Footways had to be elevated 6m (19.5 feet) from ground level to be above the traffic, but funding was delivered piecemeal, resulting in pedestrian walkways, ramps and bridges that were incorporated into isolated buildings at great cost, connecting to nothing in particular. This also presented problems with the entrances of buildings as most of them subsequently had two access points, one at ground level and the other six metres above, which proved difficult to staff.”

The second one said: “For more than 4 decades the University of Manchester’s Precinct Centre has occupied a site on the corner of Booth Street West and Oxford Road. It was built between 1970 and 1972 to a design by the architectural practice of Wilson & Womersley, who were responsible for the Hulme Five Crescents and the Arndale Centre. This was the only built edifice of the Wilson Womersley driven Education Precinct Plan (MEP) designed by the partnership. It was a somewhat misguided and confused attempt to fuse ideology with reality. The mixed-use precinct-in-the-sky was intended to be the lively hub of the University development as it expanded during the late 1960s and early 1970s, to contain housing, shops, a chaplaincy, Institute for the Deaf, a branch library and health centre. Lewis Womersley himself acknowledged the failings of the Precinct Centre insofar as many of the assumptions they had made concerning connectivity, adjacent development, density, that were dependent on third parties were not built as anticipated.

The result was an unsettling placeless space that always felt as if occupancy rates were teetering on the edge of viability. In 2016 the Precinct Centre and the bridge across Oxford Road became part of a major redevelopment project. The bridge was demolished, and the Precinct Centre was stripped back and became Phase Two of the redevelopment of the adjacent Business School complex.”

Addendum One: My Precinct Centre Drawings.

ADDENDUM TWO: References.

I was very pleased to hear before I left that Mr Womersley and Mr Armstrong both hoped that I would join the office again after completing my studies in 1970.


While working in Manchester for the architectural firm of Wilson and Womersley in 1967-68 I became interested in housing. Before setting up in private practice in 1964 the architect and planner Louis Womersley (1909-1990) had, since 1954, been the City Architect of Sheffield. Womersley believed strongly in creating a better, more egalitarian society through the re-building of post-war Britain. He had developed a keen interest in the work of the Garden City Movement and sought to emulate for his generation the high qualities of housing layout and amenities achieved in Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City. He believed that ordinary people deserve and benefit from thoughtful planning and good architecture, improving tenants’ living experience through the preservation of woodland and separating pedestrians from road traffic. In a letter to the Times (July 8th, 1965) Womersley laid out his ideas about the coexistence of man and machine: “Traffic should serve not master people. Urban motorway proposals should include careful analysis of the human unhappiness and environmental destruction that will result.” He believed that housing should be inseparable from planning and that the architect should strive for ‘beauty through simplicity.’

He was able to put his ideas into practice in the post-war renewal of Sheffield where he produced innovative and ground-breaking designs for post-war public housing. He was inspired by Radburn Design Housing; ‘cottage’ housing all linked by a footpath system separating pedestrians from roads. He was driven by his belief that the motor vehicle had the potential to be a ‘wrecker of the environment’ as well as impacting upon the senses of man. Womersley provided social housing that improved not only quality of living, but quality of life. His housing estates in Sheffield and Northampton were laid out in “crisp and modern style” with “detail and care often missing from later social housing.” The scale of urban transformation that Womersley invested during his time in Sheffield remains unique in this country, his department committed to “creating houses for working people as monuments for future generations rather than shamefaced hutches.”

His most ambitious and now, in 2020, iconic projects were Park Hill, designed in 1953; completed in 1961, and Hyde Park (completed 1962) projects which explored the concepts of pedestrian and vehicular separation; traffic free zones and ‘streets in the sky’. The design reflected the profound influence on post WW2 housing design by the Swiss architect le Corbusier, with his projects such as the 1947-52 twelve-story apartment block Unité d’habitation in Marseille, and the ‘New Brutalist’ style of the architects Alison and Peter Smithson; particularly of their unsuccessful but highly influential 1952 competition entry for the Golden Lane Housing estate in London. At the time of its construction, it was considered “a brave, enlightened approach to housing,” people coming across the world to see it. We are unlikely ever again see architecture, let alone housing, delivered in such a confident and optimistic way. When he moved into private practice, he brought six members of his imaginative and enthusiastic team with him and with two of them I went on a visit one weekend to see the Sheffield housing and particularly the innovative Park Hill development.

At that time I had also read an article about housing in which the author had commented that many families move house three times- firstly into a house (or flat) as a young married couple, perhaps with one or two very young children; secondly into a larger house with teenage children and thirdly either downsizing into a smaller house or into one in which they could also look after one or two elderly parents. Each time there was a cost to them in both buying and selling: estate agents, surveyors, mortgage company and removal firm fees. Plus, they often had to move to a new area as where they currently lived did not have the appropriate affordable housing for their changing needs. This usually meant leaving neighbourhoods they had grown attached to; parting from friends they had made, with new schools and friends for their children; and losing the contacts they had built up over several years with local shopkeepers and service providers. I started to wonder if it were possible to design a ‘life cycle’ house so that people could remain in one place and remain part of a settled community. I (sort of) thought that the savings that they might make on future costs of moving house, possibly redecorating, and even buying some different furniture might offset any increase in cost of their initial purchase.

Design Development. As a first step I got three families to keep a detailed record for one week of all their daily activities, from the time they got up in the morning to the time they went to bed at night. It was divided into quarter-hour segments and the information included recording such things as all their daily tasks, what they did, where they went, how long for, mealtimes, leisure activities, hobbies, and any visitors. I selected a young family (my cousin Chris and Judy King with their two very young children); a middle-years family with two teenage children and an almost retired family with the children having left home but with a widowed parent to look after. I cannot remember the name of the other two families, but they all gave me many pages of comprehensive detailed information.

From talking to various families, who were in no way a real representative sample, I learnt anecdotally that, if given the choice, they all preferred a house with direct contact with the ground and to outside, with at least a small garden or patio at the rear and a space for at least one car at the front. Neither blocks of flats or maisonettes seemed suitable so I had also looked at detached, semi-detached and terrace houses and concluded that to get the economies of scale I needed to go for a high-density solution. I settled on designing something like a modern terrace house, and one which must also be able to be capable of being stepped, staggered, and built in various configurations to accommodate differing site conditions. I also wanted to explore the idea of pedestrian and vehicular separation and traffic-free areas in the context of a terrace house development.

After I had developed some ideas about the building plans, I was rather stuck on how the finished building should look, until on a visit to Anglesey. I was looking at the view from Anglesey to the Welsh mainland and was very taken by the jagged outline of the Welsh mountains in the distance. One thing I particularly wanted to avoid in any design was to have a flat roofline, I wanted an articulated skyline that would visually ‘grab the sky’ as part of the design. The jagged profile of the mountains was just the image I was looking for, giving an individual building an interesting profile and even more in a group when stepped or staggered. It all came together, and I produced plans, sections and elevations and made a large-scale model to demonstrate exactly what I had in mind.

It also gave me a vital opportunity to hone my newly acquired design, presentation, and model-making skills that I was rapidly learning in the office. From my 1966-67 abortive experiences at Oxford Polytechnic School of Architecture I knew that presentation skills would be essential to ensure that I passed the architectural course at Portsmouth Polytechnic, which I was due to start in the autumn of 1968. Next time I wanted it to be in a position where there would be no doubt in the tutor’s minds that I would pass, just a conversation about its quality, either a straight Diploma or a Distinction. Failure would not be an option the second time around.

Instead of the usual standard housing scheme layouts of roads lined with uniform blocks of houses I envisaged short cul-de-sac access roads, with turning heads at the end, lined both sides with perhaps a dozen units, with some at the end of the turning head. The houses would back onto the road to allow both private car and service vehicle access to each property. At first floor level there would be a communal walkway running continuously along the back of each property on both sides of the road and around the end of the cul-de-sac, with communal stairs at the end allowing access from ground level. Each short road would be gently curved, allowing the units to be staggered, or both stepped and staggered, along its length to create visual interest. I envisaged each informal group of cul-de-sac houses to be separated from each other by communal landscaped traffic-free open space with pedestrian routes, accessed directly from the gardens of each house.

In retrospect although I had anticipated the two-car family, I had not anticipated the advent of the en-suite bathroom, the stair lift, the explosion of white goods, labour-saving devices, and the vast increase in clothes and personal possessions of each household member.

All I needed was the chance to develop the design as part of a large housing scheme to see if it was viable and, in the spring and summer of 1968 at Portsmouth School of Architecture, I got that very opportunity.

Cornwall and the Cyclist.

At the end of July 1968, I and my then wife Margaret moved back south from Manchester where we had lived for the previous year so that I could start as a 5th year architectural student at the Portsmouth School of Architecture. We initially stayed with her parents in their house in Manor Close, Totton, Southampton to use as a base for looking for more permanent accommodation in Portsmouth, ready for the start of the academic year in September. We decided that first we really needed a holiday for a week or two and Margaret’s parents suggested just the place. Some friends of theirs had moved to Cornwall and ran a B&B so they telephoned them to find out their charges, which we could afford, so booked up for a week.

During our stay there we were out and about exploring; visiting the privately owned harbour village of Clovelly in Devon and, in Cornwall, the villages of St. Agnes, St Ives, Mingoose, Truro, the town of Penzance, Land’s End and, four miles along the coast at Porthcurno, the spectacularly sited open-air Minack Theatre, which is constructed above a gully in a rocky outcrop that juts out into the sea. Later, I turned our trip into a project and, for my first submission at Portsmouth in September, produced an account of our trip called ‘Environmental and Urban Design’. It was illustrated with the numerous black and white photos I had taken of the memorable places and sights we had seen.

At one time we were driving along a narrow, grass-verged, country road bounded on both sides with drystone walls about four feet high, with grass, bushes and even small trees growing out of the top. I learned later that these are called ‘Cornish Hedges’, which is an ancient style of hedge built of stone and earth found in Cornwall, southwest England. Sometimes hedging plants or trees are planted on the hedge to increase its wind-breaking height. A rich flora develops over the lifespan of a Cornish hedge. The Cornish hedge system contributes to the distinctive field-pattern of the Cornish landscape and is also the county’s largest semi-natural wildlife habitat.

There are about 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of hedges in Cornwall today, and their development over the centuries is preserved in their structure. The first Cornish hedges enclosed land for cereal crops during the Neolithic Age (4000–6000 years ago). Prehistoric farms were of about 5 to 10 hectares (12 to 25 acres), with fields about 0.1 hectares (0.25 acres) for hand cultivation. Some hedges date from the Bronze and Iron Ages, 2000–4000 years ago, when Cornwall’s traditional pattern of landscape became established. Others were built during the mediaeval field rationalisations; more originated in the tin and copper industrial boom of the 18th and 19th centuries, when heaths and uplands were enclosed.

At one point we drove into a small village or hamlet, perhaps of a hundred or a hundred and fifty houses, and the road turned into the village street with the grass verges becoming narrow pavements on either side. Small, simple stone, or white-washed houses lined each side of the street, perhaps originally built for farm labourers or estate workers. They were all two stories with small windows, a slate or occasionally thatched roof and front doors that opened directly onto the pavement. They were in short terraces of eight or ten with some semi-detached and one or two detached cottages. There were slight variations in style and detailing, possibly built over two hundred years or more, but because they were all constructed of the same materials and were of similar size, the whole effect was very pleasing and harmonious.

Halfway along the street the road kinked to the right and, in the elbow of the bend, the houses on that side had been pushed back to make a small, open, stone-paved area – the village square – so we parked and went to have a closer look. Around the perimeter there were a few small shops; a butcher, a baker that also sold cakes, pasties and pies, a newsagent and a hardware shop. In roughly the middle of this open space there was a small stone cross, about eight feet high, set on a three-foot-high round stone plinth with four steps circling it.

On the plinth sat a man, eating a Cornish pasty and drinking milk from a half pint glass bottle, with his bike propped up alongside him. It was an old fashioned, sturdy, possibly post-WW2 touring machine, built more for comfort rather than speed. It looked more than slightly battered and worn but was clearly immaculately maintained. It was possibly a Rudge, with semi-dropped handlebars, a wide, comfortable saddle, three speed gears, rubber pedals with no toe-clips, stout steel spokes and wide steel wheel rims fitted with sturdy black tyres and black metal mudguards.

Attached to a front fork was a dynamo that could be released onto the front tyre to generate electricity for its front and rear lights. Around the cross-bar was fastened a roll of canvas in a clear plastic outer cover and, in the middle of the roll, there were several poles that projected out in front of the handle-bars and behind the saddle stem to the rear which I soon learnt was a small, one-person tent with a built-in ground sheet, On the back was a pannier, on the top of which was fastened a sleeping bag, rolled up in a plastic sheet and each side was a pannier bag filled with other stuff.

The man looked to be in his mid-50s and was wearing a sun hat and was dressed in a faded blue short sleeved polo shirt, a pair of loose khaki ‘Empire Builder’ shorts, ankle socks and a stout pair of shoes. His exposed weathered face, lower arms and legs were all nearly mahogany coloured, from perhaps a working life spent outside or having recently spent a lot of time out in the sun. He was of medium height with a lean build and his calf muscles suggested he had done a lot of cycling.

We paused to say hullo and soon learnt that he lived in a single bedroom flat in a small, Victorian terrace house in a working-class area in south London. He had a low-paid, unskilled job in a local factory; his parents were both dead and he had no other relatives or dependants. His needs were few and he was able to save enough money each year to take a month off work in the summer to go on holiday on his bike. Each year he visited a different county of England, and he reeled off an impressive list of those he had visited in the last few years; this year it was Cornwall. And he hoped to eventually visit every county in England.

Each evening he set up his tent on a convenient grass verge or in the nearest field and was up and away again the next morning. We learnt that he used streams or rivers to wash in, also, on a sunny day, to change into his spare set of clothes, wash his dirty clothes in a stream or pond and hang them on a hedge or fence to dry. A couple of times on a holiday he would check into a B&B for a night to get a good meal, a bath and to sleep in a bed for a change. He also would occasionally, at mid-day stop at some county or village pub for a pie and a pint of beer or cider and where he would also chat to the locals.

I asked him if he did any research on the counties he visited before he went there and did, he have a pre-planned route. He said he just went where he fancied on the day and took every opportunity to meet people (like us) to have a chat with. I asked him what he did when it rained for a day or so. He said he would bivouac for a couple of days; setting up his tent in the lee of a stone wall or hedge, get inside and wait for the rain to stop and he had a small, battery-operated radio he could listen to. He also had a small primus stove that he could heat things on, and he seemed to live mainly on boiled eggs, boiled rice, raw vegetables, some occasional fruit, all washed down with black tea.

We wished him a happy holiday and we continued on our way. We came back past the square about twenty minutes later and he was gone. We never saw him again and I now and again wonder what became of him and did he finally manage to visit all the counties England.


From 1968 to 1970 I was a student at Portsmouth Polytechnic School of Architecture and from 1970 to 1972 I was an architect employed by Portsmouth City Council in DACD- their Department of Architecture and Civic Design. I stayed on in Portsmouth for two years after qualifying as an architect so that my then wife, Margaret, could complete her last two years of study to also qualify as an architect, which she did in the summer of 1972. Shortly afterwards we left our rented terrace house in Gosport, where we had lived for four years, and moved to Manchester, where I had been offered a place at Manchester University to study for an MA in Urban Design.

Portsmouth was then, and is now, a naval town, a port city, and unitary authority in Hampshire, England. Most of Portsmouth is located on Portsea Island, off the south coast of England in the Solent. This means Portsmouth is the only English city not located primarily on the mainland. Located 74 miles (119 km) south-west of London, 50 miles (80 km) west of Brighton and Hove, and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Southampton; Portsmouth is part of the South Hampshire conurbation. It is said to be most densely populated city in the United Kingdom, with a population in 1968 of 177,142.

Gosport is a town and non-metropolitan borough, on the south coast of Hampshire, Southeast England and in 1971 its population was 61,000. Gosport is situated on a peninsula on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour, opposite the city of Portsmouth, to which it is linked by the Gosport Ferry. Gosport lies south-east of Fareham, to which it is linked by a Bus Rapid Transit route and the A32. Until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of His Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. As such over the years extensive fortifications were created.

Gosport is sometimes referred to as ‘Turk Town’. The term Turk Town (Turke Stadt) has its origins in an incident dating to 1850 when two Turkish ships, seeking shelter in Portsmouth Harbour during a courtesy visit were refused permission to land sailors at Portsmouth. Some Turkish sailors died during that time, and they were buried in Gosport.

In the late 1960s the Portsmouth School of Architecture was in the heart of Old Portsmouth on a site between the High Street and St Thomas’s Street, a hundred yards from Portsmouth Cathedral. It was housed in a jumble of old WW2 army huts; now long-gone; demolished and the site redeveloped with blocks of flats. Fronting onto the St Thomas’s Street boundary of the site was an old two-story old industrial building which contained the school offices and the office of the head of the school Mr Geoffrey Broadbent. A short step along the High Street was to the site was the pub called The Duke of Buckingham, which became the preferred hang-out for us perpetually thirsty students to gather in. The pub is named after George Villiers the Duke of Buckingham, then head of the Armed forces, was assassinated by John Felton on 23rd August 1628 at No 11, High Street.

This was where I was to spend two years, from 1968-70, before finally qualifying as an architect and, in her turn, Margaret was to spend two years, from 1970-72 before she also qualified as an architect.

We had tried to find a flat or small terrace house on the Portsmouth side, but the rents were more than we could afford. A friendly estate agent eventually advised us to look on the Gosport side, as, he said, the rents were far cheaper, so we did. Very soon we had found just what we were looking for and immediately agreed to rent: a small, two-bedroom terrace house at 339A, Forton Road, Gosport, for £4 per week; equivalent to £85 in 2023.)

From where we lived at 339A, Forton Road, Gosport, it was one and a half miles to Gosport harbour, from where small, open decked pedestrian and bicycle ferries went back and forth all day across the narrow neck of to the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour, docking by the railway station at Portsmouth Hard and, from there, it was less than half a mile to Portsmouth School of Architecture.

For the first two of the next four years, I cycled several times a week into the School of Architecture and for the following two years, when I was employed in the Portsmouth City’s Department of Architecture and Civic Design in their offices in Western Parade, I crossed on the ferry every day of the week. Every morning I cycled amongst the flood of Portsmouth naval dock workers cycling to the Gosport ferry and, at 5pm, when I finished work, back with on their return journey from Portsmouth back to Gosport. We were all packed together like sardines with our bikes on the open, often slippery decks of the ferries for the short but often very windy, exposed, and wet journey across the narrow entrance neck of water to Portsmouth harbour.

339A Forton Road, Gosport, Hampshire.

The house agents letter described the property as follows: 339, Forton Road, Gosport, Hampshire. A partially furnished, self-contained flat on two floors affording the following accommodation: First Floor. Two bedrooms, bathroom with panelled bath and wash hand-basin. Hot water from “Ascot” gas multi-point heater.

Ground Floor. Living room, tiled fireplace, and dresser cupboard. Breakfast room, store cupboard. Kitchen, deep sink (H&C water supply), door to rear garden.

Exterior. Attached conservatory, outside WC, and small rear yard. Rent. £4 per week, paid monthly in advance, plus the bills.

At the end of July 1968 I and my then wife Margaret moved back south from Manchester where we had lived for the previous year so that I could start as a 5th year architectural student at the Portsmouth School of Architecture. We were looking for somewhere to rent until the summer of 1970, when I hoped to qualify as an architect. We then planned to return to Manchester so that Margaret could complete the final two years of her Architectural course at the University of Manchester. We found that the cost of accommodation in Portsmouth was very expensive and way beyond our limited means and were advised to look across the harbour in the small town of Gosport, as the rents were considerably cheaper there.

Gosport is situated on a peninsula 6 miles south-east of Fareham and on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour, opposite the city of Portsmouth, to which it is linked by the Gosport Ferry. Until the last quarter of the 20th century Gosport was a major naval town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. The town was referred to somewhat dismissively as ‘Turk Town’ by old-time Portsmouth residents who considered themselves a cut above those who lived over the water there. The origin of the epithet refers to November 1850 when two ships of the Turkish Ottoman Navy were anchored at Gosport for several months. During that time some of the members of the crew contracted cholera and were admitted to the Royal Navy Haslar Hospital for treatment where most of them died; in total 26 died and were laid to rest in the burial grounds there.

The property we rented was located a mile and a half away from the harbour and Gosport ferry terminal; a short ferry ride across the harbour to the terminal on the Portsmouth side, from where it was less than half a mile to the Portsmouth School of Architecture, which was located (but long since gone by 2023) on the High Street, near the Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral.

No.339, Forton Road, Gosport was towards the middle of a row of eight small, narrow fronted, two story, two-bedroom mid-Victorian terrace houses in a run-down low-cost working-class area, facing directly on to Forton Road, the main road from the nearby town of Fareham into Gosport. What had been originally the ground floor front rooms of this and similar terraces fronting the road had long since been turned into low-cost shops selling local convenience goods such as vegetables, meat, newspapers, and sweets. A few of the shops and houses were owner occupied but the majority of the single room shops were let off separately as lockups at the front with the living accommodation to the rear and above the shop unit being let off separately. No 339, the ground floor front part of the house we rented was a ‘surgical supplies’ shop and immediately next door was a betting shop that occupied the whole house. The café immediately across the road, on the corner of St Luke’s Road, was cynically referred to locally as both ‘the waiting room’ for clients and the ‘club house’ for the girls on their coffee break from the local knocking shop.

Access to No 339A (the flat postal address) was from the rear, first via the narrow Brougham Lane from Forton Road and then turning right along a narrow pedestrian access path along the back of the small rear garden yards.

Two small bedrooms upstairs and a small bathroom over a rear extension and containing just a bath and a hand basin were reached by a very narrow winding stair. On the ground floor there was a small living room and, in the narrow rear extension, a tiny eating space, an even tinier kitchen off it and, at the end of the extension was the only toilet for the house, reached from out in the yard.

The walls separating the houses, called the party wall, were only 4 inches (100 mm) thick brickwork and sounds easily carried between them. The four feet, six inches wide (1.4 metres) space between the side of the rear extension to our house and the boundary wall had been filled in with a glass roof, sloping down from just below the cill of the first-floor rear bedroom to a door giving access to the tiny rear yard, to form a conservatory, which made the living room quite dark. The wallpaper and paintwork in the flat were in a reasonable state but very dark and sombre colours for such small rooms. The only heating for the house was a coal fire in the living room; the lighting throughout was extremely poor, with very few power outlet sockets.

There were signs of damp on the ground floor. The tiny kitchenette and an outside toilet was what the majority of working-class people had prior to the 1950s. The property was small but adequate; was affordable and we thought it would be OK to live in for the next eighteen months and so, in mid-September, we moved in. We found out after we had moved in there was a serious mouse problem. In one week, we trapped 15 mice before calling in the pest control people. At one point there was an infestation of black beetles under the stairs. (NOTE – As things turned out it was our home for four years, as in 1970 Margaret switched from Manchester University to Portsmouth for her final two years of her architectural course; qualifying in 1972).

The 5th year architectural course started in early October and for our first two-week project Joachim Hudek, the course tutor, told us to each select an environment – which could be a room, a building an open space or spaces between buildings – then analysing it and submit a report with drawings and photos showing how it could be modified and improved. 339A Forton Road exactly fitted the bill and so that was my first project at Portsmouth School of Architecture. I contacted the

house agents, and they told me that the owners said that I could not do any structural alterations, but they had no objection to me doing any interior decorations – if there were no bizarre colour schemes. We wanted to make the place more comfortable to live in and to create a work room for me as for the next eighteen months I would be doing a lot of my college work from home, and from 1970 it became Margaret’s work room. The aim was to see what we could do on a very limited budget – cheap and cheerful was the watchword. I produced two reports; Report 1 being about the property as we found it and Report 2 about what we proposed to do; focussing in the first instance on the design of my workspace which we decided should be on the first floor in bedroom two.

Over the next few weeks, we decorated all the rooms with (cheap) matt white emulsion paint on the walls and ceilings and white gloss paint on the woodwork and doors. In the dark sitting room, we added a plain red curtain to the glazed door to the conservatory, the only source of daylight to the room, and some table lamps. We carpeted the room with a piece of light grey hair cord carpet we got as a cheap off-cut from a local carpet shop and bought a small gas fire room heater with a light grey front and dark grey surround and installed it in front of the fireplace. On the stair to the first floor, I stained the plain wooden treads matt black, painted the risers white and made a downlighter from a large coffee tin, which I polished on the outside and hung down over the stairwell. I painted the

interior walls of the dingy outside toilet a brilliant orange and put a 150-watt bulb in the light socket to brighten it up and we planted some flowering plants in the yard to cheer it up. We had some pieces of furniture of our own which we used. From Margaret’s paternal grandmother, who had recently died at her home in Welwyn Garden City, we had inherited a 1930s oak dining table with folding leaves at each end, making it large enough for four people, and four oak chairs, an oak sideboard and small dresser and a couple of small easy chairs. We also had the oak carver chair that had been at our flat in Manchester and which, when we left, I had bought from the landlord for five shillings (or 25P in today’s decimal coinage in 2021). You can see the chair, which I still have today, in the breakfast room photo.

I bought some high-quality yacht gloss paint and painted the sideboard a brilliant white with dark green inset panels on the doors; the small dining table top a purple gloss with white table legs, the four dining chairs brilliant white with seat and Margaret made padded back panels in colours similar to a peacock’s tail. I painted the oak carver in a brilliant orange red with the same seat and back panel as the dining chairs. Our only big expense was a brand new, large Indesit fridge-freezer.

(Note – when I visited Margaret and her new husband Paul Mulvey at their flat in Oxford in the early 1990s, I was amazed to see that she still had the same fridge-freezer, and it was still working, they were well made in those days!).

For my workspace table I bought an oak faced flush door which was held up by an oak cabinet I had made in my last year at school in 1959, aged 16. (Two years ago, I refurbished the cabinet and passed it on to my son Jamie, see photo above.) I strung up some down lighters from the ceiling and added some angle poise lamps, two white-painted chairs and my drawing board and I was off and running! By then I had met Christine Cuthbert who had student digs in Portsmouth, and as the three of us got on well together she often visited us. The second college project was the redevelopment of Wickham, a village to the north of Portsmouth, for which the students were split into teams of three and four to do. Christine and I we were in a team together, so she often visited us as we worked together on the design and, when she sometimes stayed overnight, kipped down on a camp bed that we set up in the workroom.

ADDENDUM ONE: Design of my workspace.

ADDENDUM TWO: Survey of existing building.

MCC and Me.

It was autumn 1968 and the first day of term at Portsmouth College of Technology School of Architecture. The school’s premises were in the old town of Portsmouth, fifty yards to the east of Portsmouth Cathedral, on a site that fronted onto the High Street and at the rear on to St Thomas’s Street. Thirty yards to the east of the site is the Duke of Buckingham, a pub which became the student hang-out during the day between lectures and at lunchtime. The students’ accommodation was in a series of old felt-roofed, timber clad army huts, painted dark green. To the rear of the site, fronting onto St Thomas’s Street, was a two-story brick structure which housed the schools’ admin offices, staff rooms and the office of the head of the school, the 39-year-old Yorkshire born Geoffrey Haigh Broadbent, who had been appointed to the post the previous year. His brief was to expand and develop a new full-time course from what originally a mostly part-time course at Portsmouth College of Technology. In 1969 the Technology College was upgraded to become Portsmouth Polytechnic and then, in 1992, to finally become part of the University of Portsmouth.

Broadbent was one of a number of early theorists in architectural theory, along with others such as Christopher Alexander, who made strong links between architecture and the humanities and psychology and later, along with others such as Charles Jencks, in semiotics (that is, the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation). His seminal book Design in Architecture: Architecture and the Human Sciences (1973) attempted to break down the architectural design process into its constituent parts. He posited four major phases in design activity: pragmatic, iconic, analogic and canonic. Reviewing the book in 1980, Bryan Lawson called it “essential reading for those interested in a kind of environmental design where, above all, people matter.”

I have not read it. (Addendum: According to information from the internet in December 2023 Geoffrey Broadbent is still alive aged 94).

In retrospect both Christine and I agree that in the two years we were at the school Broadbent never once gave us a lecture or talk and had virtually no contact with us at all. I do recall him appearing briefly at the end of the 5th year when all the students’ schemes for a project based on the village of Wickham, to the north of Portsmouth, were hung and being reviewed by our tutors. After a brief inspection of the various projects, he made a few comments and then left. Christine says she cannot remember having any contact at all with him at all.

It was 10am and the 5th year students were gradually assembling in their hut, waiting for the year-master, Mr Joakim Hudek, to appear and brief them on the coming term. We were a mixed bunch, of about twenty people, ranging in age from early 20s to Mr Stimpson, in his early 50s who had worked for many years as an architectural draughtsman for Portland Council architects’ department and, late in his career, had decided he wanted to try to become an architect.

Most of the students in the 5th year had, like me, joined the school from elsewhere for the final two years of the architectural course at the end of which, if all went well, we would become architects. Student names I can remember, Anar Anarsson from Iceland, Daniel Poiret from Switzerland, Geoff Bailey from Yorkshire, Tim Whittle from Upway, Weymouth, Neil Craggs from Eastleigh, Rob Waters from London, John Watling and, from Gosport, John Elgie and another one, whose name I have forgotten, whose father was the local undertaker there. Several of them were, like me, married and at least three of them already had children.

The entrance door to ‘our’ dingy hut was in the centre of the long sidewall. For some reason I was standing on the other side, directly opposite the door, as one by one the students trickled in, and so I was able to get a first look at them all as they arrived. Most of the students had already arrived when the door opened, and a girl strode in who immediately caught my eye. She was tall, well-built with a smile on a strong face with freckles; well-defined brown eyebrows, sparkling brown eyes and a mass of auburn hair. She was wearing an orange and shocking pink top with long sleeves of some woven material hanging unbuttoned from her shoulders, and a matching tweed mini-skirt of the same woven material that came to just above her knee, a pink polo neck and was wearing a pair of shiny orange boots that came to just below her knees (I later learnt that the ‘woven material’ was hand-woven Donegal tweed by John Molloy of Ardara who supplied Parisian couturiers in those days). Head held high and shoulders back she strode into the room full of strangers and my first thought was “She looks interesting; I must get to know her.”

I did, and so that is how I first met twenty-three-year-old Mary Christine Cuthbert, from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Christine had transferred to Portsmouth for her 5th year after completing her first three years; the first year at Belfast, then second and third years at Edinburgh University and a resit of Intermediate exams at the RIBA and then, for her 4th year, working for the Greater London Council in London. In London Christine shared a small flat with two other girls in Baker Street, the same street in which the author Conan Doyle wrote in his stories that Sherlock Holmes and Watson shared a flat and consulting rooms together for several years. We hit it off together from the beginning and Christine soon became a good friend of not only of myself but also of my then wife, Margaret Francis King (neé Nicholls), whom I had married in September 1967. In the 5th year Christine and I worked together on the same team on the final project for the year, the development of Wickham, a village to the north of Portsmouth. Fifty-five years later, and after becoming the second Mrs King on the 30th of January 1975, she is still my best friend, and fairest but severest critic.

Christine’s parents were both academics at Queens University, Belfast, her father Norman, Professor of Economics, and her mother Kathleen a part-time tutor in Modern Languages. I met them when they came to Portsmouth to visit Christine and we got on famously, more than, I am sad to say I ever did with my then in-laws, Brian and Marion Nicholls of Totton, Southampton. Although after my divorce from Margaret I got on with them both much better.

In the academic year 1968-69 Christine lived in a bed-sit in Southsea and, to keep her safe from the ‘frightful matelots’ in Portsmouth, her parents had bought her a new white Ford Anglia two-door saloon car which had in innovative design feature for the time, a sloping rear window. (It was like the one in the photo, but without the two-tone side strip and roof.)

In the summer term of 1969 Margaret had to go back to Manchester University to repeat one term to enable her to be awarded her intermediate exam. We had arranged for her to stay in Manchester with Susan and Peter Neary; husband and wife architects that that Margaret and I had met while living there in 1967- 68. I did not have a car then (See: ‘Floating Ford’) so Christine amazingly lent me her car, which by then had hardly been run in, for me to drive Margaret all the way to Manchester. What a star! And she has been a star ever since.

Wickham Project- Spring 1969.

At Portsmouth School of Architecture in the spring of 1969 I had the opportunity of designing a development scheme using not only my prototype Anglesey House I had designed while in Manchester the previous year but also exploring further ideas about housing, expanding communities, pedestrian- vehicular separation and linking family houses to both green spaces and the open countryside. The third project of the year, set by our 5th year tutor Joachim Hudek, was the expansion of Wickham, a small village to the northwest of Portsmouth, which had the redundant Meon Valley Railway line, which finally closed in August 1968, running on a man-made raised embankment in an arc around the village from the southwest to the northeast.

It was to be a team project and the year was divided into groups of three and four. I was in a four-person team: The first person I asked to be in the team was John Elgie. He lived in Gosport and was, like me, a married student who had switched to full-time education that year. There were two girls in the year, Christine Cuthbert, and Sally Bailey, who I immediately grabbed into the team. I was already friends with Christine, and we got on well, so she was an obvious first choice. Sally, I did not really know but, in my experience, female architectural students were either bad or very good; there seemed to be no middle ground with girls of being just OK. Most schools of architecture in the 1960s consisted of mostly male students and the minority of female architectural students were not really regarded seriously by their contemporaries. Many male architectural students were reluctant to work on projects with female student, their general attitude being that female architectural students were a liability. So, a female architect had to work twice as hard as a bloke to even be accepted as OK. It was a calculated risk with Sally on my part, but I was not disappointed with either of them, they were both prepared to work their socks off in the team.

Wickham is three miles north of Fareham and ten miles Northwest of Portsmouth, with a population of about 4000, and was the birthplace of William of Wykeham, founder of Winchester College and New College, Oxford. It has a wide and well-proportioned square lined with historic buildings and is designated a conservation area. In Roman times it was the fording place of the River Meon on the Roman road between Noviomagus Regnorum (Chichester) and Venta Belgarum (Winchester).

The overall character of Wickham can be described as a “compact nucleated historic village which has expanded east and west of the river Meon around a medieval planned centre” and is surrounded by countryside typical of the Hampshire basin generally, and particularly of the natural environment throughout the lower valley of the Meon”. Nikolas Pevsner, the art, and Architectural historian, writing in 1964 described Wickham as “the finest village in Hampshire and one of the best in the South of England. It is built round a great rectangular square. Not only the layout but also the scale and disposition of the buildings in relation to the space are also exceptionally happy.” (The Buildings of England: Hampshire, 1964.)

The village had a railway station on the Meon Valley Railway; a cross-country railway that ran for 22 1⁄4 miles (35.8 km) between Alton and Fareham, closely following the course of the river Meon. At its northern (Alton) end, it joined with the Mid-Hants Railway to Winchester, the Alton Line to Brookwood and the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway. At Fareham it linked with the Eastleigh to Fareham line, the West Coast line and the line to Gosport. The railway was authorised in 1896 and opened in 1903 and at one time this railway was conceived as a direct route from London to the Isle of Wight. Passenger services were withdrawn after February 1955 and both the railway line and Wickham station was finally closed completely on 13 August 1968.

Floating Ford.

Just before I got married on the 23rd of September 1967, I bought a (very much) second hand two-door Ford Anglia van, like the one in the photograph, but in light silver grey and, like it, I also had windows put in the rear side panels. From a scrapyard I got two folding seats and fixed them to the floor behind the front seats so that I could now carry four people in relative discomfort. It was designed as a cheap, robust working vehicle with simple controls, hardly any insulation or soundproofing and a heater whose three settings of low, medium, or high made very little difference to its miserable output. But it was reliable, had a top speed of about 60 mph, was reasonably economical on fuel and had a decent carrying capacity.

As Margaret and I were off to live in Manchester straight after our wedding in Lyndhurst in the New Forest, we needed to carry all our belongings. It served us very well for our year in Manchester and for our infrequent long, tiring trips back to the Southampton area to visit both my mother and Margaret’s parents. In the late summer of 1968, we moved back south to Portsmouth for me to start studying at Portsmouth School of Architecture for two years. We rented a small Victorian two-bedroom terrace house fronting on to Forton Road, in Gosport, Hampshire, where we were to live for the next four years.

It was the following spring when our trusty workhorse met its end. It was a weekend and I had driven the short distance from where we lived into Gosport to do some shopping. I parked in a public car park off South Street, which overlooked a large pond in the public park and was separated from in by a strip of grass about 70 feet wide that fell on a slight incline to the concrete public walkway around the water’s edge.

I went off into the shopping area to do my shopping and about an hour later I came back to find my car gone. I knew I had locked the car and there was no sign of any broken glass that might indicate someone had smashed the driver’s window to get in, but who would want to steal such an old second-hand van anyway a sit was not worth anything, perhaps £50 at the most?

As I looked around to check I had come back to where I thought I had parked the car, I saw down by the water’s edge an excited group of people, all staring and pointing into the pond. I walked in their direction to see what the excitement was and halfway across the grass I spotted a grey rectangle seemingly floating on the surface of the pond. It was my van, completely submerged in the pond, with only the roof a few inches above the water.

I had to contact a garage with heavy lifting equipment to come and haul it out, which cost about half of what the car was worth. In the event the car was a write-off as it had been submerged in sea water and was unrepairable. I could not claim on my insurance as it was on private land and their opinion was that I had not fully engaged the hand brake properly or left it in gear and, at some point, the car had started rolling forward, maybe someone passing had touched the car, who knows- and the incline down to the water had done the rest. It was very fortunate that no one had been playing or picnicking on the grass in front of the car when it started it suicidal roll down to the pond or their might have been a serious accident. For the next three years we were without a car until, just before we left Portsmouth in the summer of 1972 to relocate back to Manchester, I bought my third car, a second hand 600cc white Fiat 500 saloon.

Mechanic’s Mate.

As a student at Portsmouth School of Architecture for two years from the autumn of 1968 money my college fees were paid by Hampshire County Council, who also gave me a very small grant. My then wife, Margaret, was working as an assistant in a local architect’s office and I had saved what money I could while working in Manchester for a year but, even so, we were still quite short of money. In the holidays I usually got some temporary employment and the first of these, over Christmas and New Year of 1968-69 was with Selwood’s Plant Hire Company.

In various offices I had worked in I had picked up on how often delays in construction were attributed by the contractor to their hired plant breaking down, which seemed to happen quite frequently, and I had become interested in finding out how mechanical plant was actually used on building sites. An old friend of mine from Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, Chris Braby, had a father who was a service manager at Selwood’s, a plant engineers company based in Chandlers Ford. I applied to him for a temporary job and on the 27th of November I received a letter from Alan Braby offering me a job as a Mechanic’s mate on his travelling service vans, at the apprentice rate of £10 for a 40-hour week. I accepted the job and at 7-30 am on the 18th of December 1968 I arrived at their yard in Chandlers Ford to start work.

(Note: Alan Braby and his wife, in their spare time, also ran the Chandlers Ford school of Ballroom dancing, which I had attended for about three years. Under their guidance I had achieved my bronze and silver medals, which I still have.)

A service engineer is supplied with a fifteen hundredweight van, equipped with a two-way radio, that is fully kitted out as a workshop with any tools or equipment the fitter may require. Selwood’s had their own stores, and the vans are stocked up each morning with what they might need that day, but each fitter was expected to supply his own basic kit of tools. The hours were eight am until five pm, with an hour off for lunch but you stayed with a job until it was done, however long it took. So that sometimes-meant long days.

Mr Braby had very definite ideas of the qualities to look for when selecting and employing a mobile service engineer.

  1. A skilled fitter with a good basic training and Ordinary National Certificate qualifications.
  2. A strong but pleasant character not easily angered by customers.
  3. Self-confidence.
  4. Honesty and reliability.
  5. Common sense.
  6. Tenacity.
  7. Ability to improvise.
  8. Ability to radio in a comprehensive report concisely.

One he has left the yard the mobile service engineer is on his own. He becomes, in effect, the firm, the customer judging it by his conduct on site. He must rely on his skill and ingenuity over a wide range of plant, often having to improvise in the field due to faulty information from the client. Over a period of time, they acquire an amazing knowledge of local geography; learning all the road names and quickest routes to any site anywhere. They also build up local contacts in various areas so that they know exactly where to go to get anything from screws to welding equipment.

I was assigned to work with various engineers, all of whom were in their late 20s to late 30s and, to a man, were all cheerful ‘can do’ people that were a pleasure to work with.

For the next month I travelled to about 40 sites in Dorset, Hampshire, and Berkshire. I kept a detailed record of where we went, what we were told what the problem was, what the problem actually was, and how it was dealt with. I usually drove the van from site to site and was able to get close to and help in the repair of some large, complicated, and expensive pieces of construction site machinery. As an unexpected ‘bonus’ I also got the chance to drive some of the less complicated machines we worked on. Some of the jobs were simple and straightforward, so we could do perhaps five in a normal working day, including the travel to and from site to site. Others turned out to be far more difficult than we thought and sometimes it took up to two hours driving to get to a site; so, the working day could be quite long- but at least Selwood paid overtime.

The first thing I learnt was that Mr Braby’s list of essential qualities for a service engineer was absolutely spot on. They needed all of those qualities, plus a sense of humour, to deal with the often idiot clients and the often-ludicrous situations on site. As the mobile service engineer Brian Hodgeson said to me: “Many firms have claimed to have brought out an indestructible machine- but I have never seen one yet that a site worker can’t wreck.”

I learnt that it was very rarely a machine malfunction that caused a problem; usually it was the machine being used inappropriately, in situations or on tasks it was not designed for, or not even having had the basic daily maintenance carried out on the machine- which each Client is supposed to do. Such basic things as making sure the tank was full of petrol or diesel, topping up the oil, or checking that all the electrical leads are in place and on tight. The most serious problem was that on many sites the nearest labourer was often told to work a machine, without the foreman even checking if he had worked on a similar machine before or, in the case of large mobile machines such as diggers and excavators, he had any qualifications to drive and operate them.

While there were occasions where something had worn out, snapped, or just unexpectedly broken many of the situations were worthy of high comedy or low farce:

“The bastard just won’t start!”- We found he had been trying to start it on full choke for so long that not only was the engine flooded but the battery was flat. A couple of the spark plug leads were not connecting properly and when all corrected it started first pull.

“The Fookin’ thing has jammed!”- Found the engine on the large generator had seized solid. Found the oil reservoir was dry. When asked why the operator replied, “I kept pouring the fookin’ stuff in but it kept coming out.” On checking underneath the engine we found a huge puddle of oil, the sump drain nut had not been tightened properly and the oil just leaked out. When asked why he had kept the engine running until it seized up, he replied “Well, I didn’t have any more fookin’ oil, did I?”

“Final drive trouble.” We found the operator had backed the Ford sweeper with the brushes down which had buckled not only the carriers but the drive shaft to the brushes.

“Gear box out.” on a 23-cwt dumper truck. Found the operator had been driving it on high revs which had overheated the engine – “because the bugger wouldn’t move, would it?” Found he had been driving it with the transmission handbrake on which had also caused the gear box housing to crack. “Well, how was I supposed to fookin’ know?”

The most interesting one was the case of a Hy-Mac (trade name) caterpillar tracked hydraulic excavator was being used to clear the banks of the river Itchen during the construction of the Winchester by-pass. The (as usual) inexperienced operator had got too near to the sloping bank and had slid down into the river. The Itchen- famed for its clear water and trout fishing- was only a foot or so deep at that point but it had sunk in the deep mud up to the driver’s cab.

The engineer I was with that day was Ted White, whose hobby was diving. He had his kit in the van, so when the heavy lifting equipment arrived, he was able to go into the river and dive down to attach cables to the digger so it could be pulled out. It was then taken back to the Selwood’s workshops on a low-loader where it had to be totally stripped down, dried out, cleaned and re-assembled.

On Monday, 30th December 1968 Brian Hodgeson and I were on a site at Basingstoke, Hampshire, attending to a Two cubic yard dumper that had broken down. Brian soon repaired it and then gave me a driving lesson in it. It is a rear-wheel drive vehicle that can almost turn on a sixpence but, unlike normal front wheel drive vehicles where, in turning, you concentrate where the front wheels are going, on a dumper you must be aware of where the back wheels are and where they are going. In turning in a circle, the rear wheels swung unexpectedly wide and touched the open hinged door in the side of Brian’s van; removing the bottom hinge and springing the bottom panel Brian just laughed, fixed the hinges back on and beat the panel back into place with a sledgehammer.

Our next stop was near Windsor, in Berkshire, and in the late afternoon on 30th December, a cold and snowy New Year’s Eve, the engineer Brian Hodgeson and I were on a building site and lying in the gathering gloom under a 23-cwt dumper. I was passing Brian tools while he struggled to remove the gear box and clutch assembly, both of which had to be replaced. It was a long and difficult job, followed by a long, slow drive back to Chandlers Ford on snow and icy roads. We arrived back at the yard at 9-15 pm and then I had the half-hour drive back to Gosport, near Portsmouth, where I lived.

A little trick I learnt from the mobile engineers had concerned the mobile police speed traps, speed cameras concealed in seemingly innocently parked unmarked vans. It was then illegal to warn people where these mobile speed traps were functioning. When an engineer spotted a speed trap, for instance near the village of North Baddesley, he would wait until he was a few minutes past it then radio into Selwood’s’ that he “believed one of our vans was broken down on the road between Baddesley and Romsey”; thus, identifying the road it was on. The Selwood’s’ radio operator would then broadcast a general message to the mobile units asking any of them that were in the vicinity of North Baddesley to look out for a broken-down van and to offer assistance.

The whole purpose of this job was for me to learn how hired machinery was actually used (or misused) on site, so after I had finished, for my own benefit, I produced an illustrated report of all that I had seen and done. It had details of the most challenging sites and jobs with my conclusions and recommendations; a copy of which I gave to Alan Braby.

I identified the following problems:

1. The cost of broken-down plant in terms of delays in completion dates and labour made idle.

2. Lack of knowledge of site operatives of how the plant works or how to carry out the most rudimentary servicing (such as topping up the oil) despite years of using it.

3. An attitude that it isn’t “their” machine, so they don’t have to look after it.

4. The inability of site operatives to indicate possible areas of fault and to keep the machinery running regardless of signs of eminent breakdown.

5. Clients expect “instant” service as soon as the plant stops, regardless of how far their site is from the workshops.

6. The increased cost by faulty breakdown information being telephoned in by the client which often resulted in double journeys and wasted time.

7. The majority of breakdowns on site are directly due to the site operatives, not faulty equipment, or maintenance.


A. As no-one has yet succeeded in designing idiot-proof plant it is essential that architects and builders instigate tighter controls on plant operatives.

B. The present practice of putting the nearest labourer to work on a machine regardless of experience should be firmly discouraged by a clause in the plant hire contract specifying the degree of experience required to operate it.

Overall, it was a memorable month’s work experience, and I got paid!

Below are my drawings of some of the machines I worked on.

Dark Forces and the Needles.

The elderly, grey-haired, pyjama clad figure leaned forward and, attracting my attention by waving his hand, fixed me with a pair of staring eyes and said in a low but carrying and very English upper-class accent “They are out to get me, you know!”

It was the summer of 1969, about two weeks before the start of my final year at Portsmouth School of Architecture, and I was in Southampton Hospital having an operation. Four years previously I had been involved in a serious accident while riding my motorbike. My face and nose were damaged and for several years had been increasingly bothered with bouts of catarrh and sinus problems. At long last I had been given some money in partial compensation for an accident; enough anyway to fund the operation. As I was paying for the operation I assume, in retrospect, that I was a private patient; but it all seemed to have been organised by the firm of solicitors who first handled my compensation claim in 1965. Anyway, I was put in a small side-ward containing only two beds. My operation was on the same day as I was admitted and, apart from noticing that there appeared to be an elderly man in the neighbouring bed, I barely had time to take notice of my surroundings before I was whisked off for the ENT consultant to do his stuff. All I can remember is of being in the operating theatre and the consultant giving me an injection and telling me to count to ten. 1-2-3-4-and I knew no more.

It was probably the next morning when I finally surfaced, with my swollen face feeling as if I had lost a fight with some boxing gloves and with a roll of gauze wadding stuffed up each nostril. My face and nose felt extremely raw and painful, and I was feeling under the weather. Later that morning I managed to sit up in bed and became aware of my companion in the adjacent bed. He was a man wearing striped pyjamas, possibly in his late 50s or early 60s, with a long, almost aquiline face, some bushy grey hair, and a very patrician expression. At some point I was visited by the consultant who looked at the file hanging on the end of my bed, examined my face, asked me how I felt, ‘Rough’ was the only honest answer, before pronouncing himself satisfied and leaving, saying he would look in on me that evening.

It was just after I had managed to eat something for lunch and the nurse had cleared things away and departed that my neighbour waved his hand at me and announced, “They are out to get me, you know!” He looked and sounded normal, his voice was modulated and reasonable, and I did not quite know what to say. I was still feeling quite rough and was not up to conversation and taking things in.

Later, when the ward was empty, he tried again. “They are all in it together and are holding me here. I must get away and warn the authorities.” He was clearly a very well-educated man and looked very much like a professor or even an hospital consultant, sure of himself and the sort of person who is used to being listened to. I was starting to get quite alarmed and asked him what he meant. He then asked me if I was familiar with the TV series ‘The Prisoner’ (1) and when I said I was he then said it was just like that with him and that Dark Forces were keeping him prisoner, but he had told them nothing and was determined to escape.

All this was said by an upper-class elderly gentleman in a perfectly reasonable tone of voice; he did not look weird or dangerous and in fact, in my bleary state, looked and sounded eminently believable. I was getting seriously worried and debated whether I should ring the emergency bell on my bed to get a nurse. He carried on in this vein for some time and I was starting to feel quite freaked out until he settled back in his bed and went to sleep. Later the ENT consultant came back and after examining me again asked me how I felt. I did not know quite what to say and sort of mumbled and looked at the man in the adjacent bed that, by this time, was in his dressing gown and slippers and sitting reading in an armchair.

The consultant turned to him and said, in a very firm voice “Mr X, (I cannot remember his name), you have not been bothering Mr King with your tales, have you?” There was some sort of verbal exchange and then the consultant spoke to his accompanying nurse who then took the man outside the ward for a small walk down to the nurse’s station. He then, much to my relief, reassuringly explained the situation. The other patient was a retired senior member of the British Diplomatic Service who lived in the New Forest. He was in for minor surgery, but he was also suffering from early stages of, I think he said, dementia which periodically manifested itself in a persecution complex, which could perhaps be alarming to someone like me not used to it. Otherwise, he was apparently as fit as a fiddle and could walk for miles in the Forest every day. However, he had to have a companion on his walks as he would forget where he was or where he was going and would end up lost. I kept a wary eye on my companion for the next couple of days until thankfully I was discharged, but he never said anything again to me about being persecuted. But it was a thoroughly unsettling experience for a young oik like me.

The consultant recommended that I have a short holiday somewhere to fully recuperate. Margaret, my wife at that time, and I had been living in a small two-bedroom Victorian terrace house in Forton Road, Gosport, for a year while I was completing the 5th year architectural course as a full-time student at Portsmouth School of Architecture. Money was very tight, and we only had a small amount of savings. The question was where could we go that we could possibly afford? I spoke to my class tutor, Mr Joakim Hudek and he suggested we rent a caravan on the nearby Isle of Wight. It sounded like a good idea to both of us as neither of us had been to the Isle of Wight before, and there was a daily ferry service there from Portsmouth. He himself knew of a caravan there which he and his family had used now and again in the summer which did not cost too much. It was located near The Needles, at the western extreme west end of the Island and having contacted the owner and agreed a price for a week that we could just afford we agreed a date to go.

It was high summer; we did not have a car so after lunch, we travelled light; only carrying two small suitcases. We caught the bus down to Gosport harbour, crossed on the ferry to the Portsmouth side and walked to the Isle of Wight ferry terminal and caught the afternoon ferry – if I remember correctly- to Fishbourne; the crossing taking about three quarters of an hour. The caravan was located on a farm very near the Needles, about twenty miles from where we landed and public transport was infrequent and slow, so it was late afternoon when we finally arrived at the farm, having had to walk the last half mile from the nearest bus-stop. We were both exhausted, I had not fully recovered from the operation, and it was not a good start to the holiday.

The Needles is a row of three stacks of chalk that rise about 30m out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight in the English Channel, United Kingdom, close to Alum Bay, and part of Totland, the westernmost civil parish of the Isle of Wight. The Needles Lighthouse, built in 1859, stands at the outer, western end of the formation.

For some reason I had got the impression that the caravan was one of several that the farmer owned and rented out in the summer; so, I again assumed that either there would be a farm shop to buy basics or a nearby local shop. I was wrong. It was just one small four-berth caravan in the corner of a field a couple of hundred yards away from the farm buildings. The only toilet was in the farmyard and water was only obtainable from a cold-water standpipe. There was no farm shop and the nearest shop, the farmer’s wife told me, was about a mile away.

The caravan slept four, but it was not a luxury one and was just one space, fitted out simply and had fold-down beds. There was a tiny sink and drainer and a two-ring gas burner along one side and in the cupboard below were plates, cutlery, mugs, a saucepan or two and a frying pan. But we had nothing to cook and not even the makings for a mug of tea or coffee. We immediately set of for the nearest local small shop but, by the time we got there, it was gone 5pm and it had shut. We were both tired and hungry by this time so decided to wait outside a nearby pub until it opened at 6; hoping to get something to eat and drink. In the event all they had were a few rather stale sandwiches left over from lunchtime, bags of potato crisps and fizzy drinks- neither of us by that time feeling at all like having a pint of beer. By the time we got back to the caravan, unpacked, and finally went to bed, we were cold, tired hungry and very fed up.

Although the caravan was basic, even by late 1960s standards, it would have been fine if we had a car to get supplies and get around. But having a half mile to walk to the nearest bus-stop and only periodic buses that took an age to get anywhere, it was less than ideal. Sad to record, with this inauspicious start the rest of our stay just went from bad to worse. There was no radio in the caravan, we had nothing to read, and it was a long walk from where we were to get anywhere. The fine weather broke; only blustery winds and a few showers but we only had light summer clothes and so, by the third day, we called it quits and went back to our home in Gosport. I did not visit the Island again for nearly 40 years but then when I did, with Christine and her mother, Kathleen, we came by car, and all stayed in a decent hotel that provided everything!

(1). ‘The Prisoner’ was a 1967 British science fiction television series starring Patrick McGoohan as an unnamed British intelligence agent who is abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village, where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. It was filmed at Portmeirion in Wales and the series has now achieved cult status.

Forton Road Fire 1969.

In February 2014 I watched a ‘gritty’ police drama on the TV set in 1969 Leeds, Yorkshire. The storyline revolved around police being used to clear protesters away from an area of Victorian houses which had been compulsorily purchased by the Local Authority as part of a comprehensive redevelopment scheme. The protesters were largely from the local community of respectable working-class people that were being turned out of their family homes and re-housed in new multi-story blocks of council flats elsewhere. They were protesting about the destruction of their close-knit community by faceless bureaucrats and the drama showed the police being used en mass to disperse the protesters and evict squatters who had moved into the empty houses. The police were shown enthusiastically laying about the protesters with their truncheons and the peaceful demonstration rapidly turning ugly. A policeman was heard saying to one of the protesters “Why are you doing this? I am just doing my job. I grew up with you all and we all went to school together.” And the reply of the protester “It is not you that we are against, but what you represent.”

The subtext of the story was what the writer referred to as the changing nature of the both the law and the police force in the late 1960s. Until then the law and the police were mostly perceived by the working classes to be on the side of justice and being there to look after the public, as personified in the TV series about a fictional friendly local bobby, Dixon of Dock Green, that everyone knew and respected. Gradually, from the 1960s, this perception changed to one of “them and us” while the police force was starting to evolve a more impersonal and increasingly confrontational style with the public that today has resulted in quasi-military police riot squads with steel helmets, body armour and riot shields; equipped with pepper sprays, stun guns and water cannon.

The storyline of the changing nature of the relationship between the law and the police with the public resonated with me as in 1969 I was the chief witness in a trial, the aftermath of which, 51 years later, still leaves me feeling very uncomfortable and with the still unanswered question: do the ends justify the means?

It was Christmas Eve 1969, and I was in my final year as an architectural student at the Portsmouth School of Architecture. For the summer of 1968 I had been living with my then wife, Margaret, in a tiny 2-bedroom terrace house in Gosport, a ferry ride away across the harbour from Portsmouth. It was a run-down low-cost working-class area, and we could just afford the £4 a week rent. The house was towards the middle of a row of narrow fronted, two-story mid-Victorian terrace houses facing on to Forton Road, the main road from the nearby town of Fareham to Gosport. The ground floor front rooms of this and similar terraces fronting the road had long since been turned into single room low-cost shops selling local convenience goods, such as vegetables, meat, newspapers, and sweets and, next door to us, a betting shop. A few of the shops and houses were owner occupied but the majority were let off separately as lock-up shops and the living accommodation rest of the house let off separately as a flat. The ground floor front part of the house we rented was a ‘surgical supplies’ shop and the café immediately across the road was cynically referred to locally as both ‘the waiting room’ for clients and the ‘club house’ for the girls on their coffee break from the local knocking shop.

The terrace house we lived was accessed from the rear via Brougham Lane, about eight feet wide, which connected through from Forton Road to Brougham Street. Off the lane to the right was a four-foot-wide access path running along the back of the houses with a gate to each small rear garden yard. Our accommodation consisted of two bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom over a rear extension, containing just a bath and a hand basin, reached by a very narrow winding stair. On the ground floor there was a living room and, in the narrow rear extension, an eating space with a kitchen off it and, at the end of the extension, the only toilet for the house, reached from out in the yard. The walls separating the houses, called the party wall, were only 4 inch (100) thick brickwork and sounds easily carried between them. The 4ft 6” wide (1.4 metre) space between the side of the rear extension of our house and the boundary wall had been filled in with a glass roof, sloping down from just below the cill of the first-floor rear bedroom to a door giving access to the rear yard, to form a conservatory, which made the living room quite dark. All the rooms in that house were very small.

I had taken over the first floor rear second bedroom as my drawing office with my drawing board by the window, which overlooked both our yard and that of the betting shop next door. Over the hot summer of 1969 I had been working there every day on my thesis project and had an unobstructed view of the various building workers who, for several weeks, seemed to be doing a lot of work in the betting shop, as they were in and out all the time. I got to know their faces very well and even exchanged a word or two with some of them when I had the window open.

It was lunch time on Christmas Eve, and we were in our tiny dining room eating when there was a loud knocking on our door. I opened it and outside was a man I recognised as one of the building workers who had been working next door. A muscular man of medium height and aged in his late 20s or early 30s he was clearly very drunk. His speech was very slurred, but I made out that he wanted to know where the people from the betting shop next door were. As Margaret appeared behind me, I said that I did not know but they were probably closed until after Christmas. He got very agitated, and we made out that they apparently owed him a considerable sum of money. It was very hard to understand him, I thought he had said £20,000 and Margaret thought he said £2,000, and he carried on at some considerable length about both about getting what was owed him and that they (next door) were not going to get away with it. He finally calmed down a bit then abruptly turned round and walked out of the yard and off up the path to the lane.

About an hour later I was back upstairs working at my drawing board when, from the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a movement in the path behind the house. I looked out and was surprised to see the back of someone seemingly crouched down behind the four-foot-high brick garden wall. I thought it was someone being sick or having a pee, not an unknown occurrence in that area, but as I looked the figure shuffled along, opened the gate to yard of the betting shop next door and still crouching behind the garden wall between our houses, made his way up the short path towards the house. He looked around him and I saw his face, it was the drunk who had knocked on our door earlier.

He passed out of my sight below to my right and some ten minutes later I again saw him, crouching low and shuffling back along the garden wall towards the gate. He shuffled through the gate and, after closing it behind him, straightened up, turned left, and walked, or rather, staggered off down the path towards Brougham Lane and out of sight. I looked out of the window into the yard next door and seeing nothing untoward I carried on drawing but, some minutes later, I suddenly saw black smoke billowing past my window. I jerked open the window and, looking out, saw the betting shop next door was on fire.

Knowing that these old houses had no party walls in the roof to prevent the spread of fire I yelled out to Margaret, ran into the front bedroom, ripped the bedspread off the bed and rushed back into my workroom. I rapidly piled all my thesis drawings, drawing instruments, equipment, files, and books onto the bedspread and lugged the lot down the narrow stairs and out into the yard. Meanwhile Margaret had ripped off the bed sheets and was piling our modest possessions on them and was also dragging them out into the yard. We had no telephone but there was a public call box a quarter of a mile down the road, so I grabbed Margaret’s bike and sprinted off down the path and on to Forton Road. Out the front the road was nearly obscured by thick, black smoke and just then a fire engine turned up, closely followed by a police patrol car. They quickly did their job and had the fire out, with most of the damage apparently being in the front part of the house in the betting shop itself. A fireman told me that it was a close call as in another few minutes the fire could have spread along the whole block.

When things had calmed down a bit, I went up to a police constable and briefly told him what I had seen, and he said he would be along to see us shortly. When I was back in the house, I told Margaret that we must each sit down and write our own separate accounts of what had happened, with the time and date. We each had desk diaries, so we wrote our accounts in the space for the 24th December.

We eventually gave signed statements to the police and heard nothing more until the summer of 1970, after I had left college and started work at Portsmouth City Architects Department, when we were told to go to the court in Portsmouth to give evidence in the trial of the man accused of setting fire to the betting shop. I cannot remember his name, although I must have heard it at the trial.

Our court appearance was on a Friday, and it was late morning when Margaret was called in to give her evidence, which took about half an hour. I was told that I was to be called straight after the lunch recess and, as that weekend we were going to visit our friend Christine Cuthbert at her flat in Oxford, rather than Margaret hanging about waiting for me to finish we agreed she would go home. She could pack and be ready to leave when I got back which assuming, like her, I would be in and out in about half an hour I would be about the middle of the afternoon.

I was on after lunch, and I entered the witness box carrying my diary. After I had taken the oath, I was asked about the diary and replied, as I assume Margaret also had, that within an hour of the incident I had written my account of what had happened. I was asked to hand the diary over, it was shown to the judge and the two solicitors and then, after it was agreed it could be admitted as evidence, was shown to the jury. The prosecuting lawyer then read it out and took me through it step by step.

The defence lawyer then took over and began to question me. He began in a friendly way, but I soon became aware that his manner was becoming distinctly confrontational and hectoring with me. His questions became harder and harder, with more and more detail being asked of me, often demanding that I just answer “Yes” or “No”. I kept saying in answer to some of them that it was not just a simple case of answering yes or no but was more complicated than that. I had seen enough TV court room dramas – e.g. Perry Mason, so I knew the prosecuting counsel should have been able to get up and object to the line of questioning or how I was being treated, but he did not. Even the judge intervened once or twice on my behalf, suggesting that the defence lawyer take a different line. I cannot after all this time remember what all the questions were, but they just went on and on, asking about me and Margaret, my life, what I was doing and so on. I was beginning to feel distinctly hunted and as if it were me on trial when the Judge called the proceedings to a halt for the day and instructed me to return the following Monday. When I got out of the court, I was surprised to see it was nearly four o’clock, I had been in the witness box for two hours. I was feeling quite shaken and was home by five and we set off, later than intended, for Oxford.

The following Monday, in the late morning I was back in the witness box. If anything, the defending lawyer was even more confrontational with me, querying everything I said, referring me back to previous answers on the previous Friday that I had apparently answered slightly differently. I was then challenged to say that it was mistaken identity and that the man who had come to the door was not the building worker I had seen over the summer. However, I had seen the bloke for days on end, often stripped to the waist in the sun, so was certain. Then my eyesight was called into question, and I was invited to say that I did not see what I had quite genuinely thought I had seen. By this time, I was starting to feel as if I was on trial and all this time the prosecuting lawyer did not intervene at all on my behalf, even though the judge himself did again once or twice.

At some point before lunch the defence lawyer suddenly produced a large (A4 size?) black and white photograph. He said it was the view taken from inside my window down onto the yard and proved conclusively that I could not have seen what I claimed to have, ergo I was making it up or just plain lying. He showed it to the judge and the prosecutor and then to the jury, before giving it to me to look at, to confirm that this was indeed the view from my window. Fortunately, in my design work I had used cameras to take photographs of buildings, my drawings and architectural models, so knew a little bit about camera lenses. It was clear to me that although it was the view from my window the photographer had used a very narrow angle lens that in no way approximated to the normal width of vision of the human eye. I pointed this out to the judge, who seemed to accept what I said, before dismissing us for the lunch break.

(Note- it was many years later that it finally occurred to me to ask myself how had the police got the photograph that was taken of the view out of my window? My wife and I had never invited any police into the house, and I can only guess that they had somehow entered the property sometime when we were both away.)

I was feeling shattered by this long spell under cross examination and, on leaving the court, decided to go to a nearby quiet back street pub that I knew of for a lunch time pint and a pie and chips. The pub was scarcely larger than two terrace houses and on one side was the room called the public bar and on the other side of a glass screen was the room called the snug. The public bar was all spit and sawdust, with a juke box, dart board a small billiard table and benches to sit on.

The snug was carpeted, had tables and chairs, was wallpapered, and usually had a fire going in winter. The beer cost a few pence more on that side, so I went into the working men’s side. While ordering my pie and chips at the bar I glanced sideways beyond the glass screen into the snug. There, at a table for two, I was taken aback to see both the prosecuting and defence lawyers having lunch together with a bottle of wine. They obviously knew each other well and although because of the juke box going full blast I could not hear what they were saying their every smile and gesture indicated they were having a good time. I quickly ate my pie and chips, drank my pint, and went back to the court.

Back in the witness box I was given an even harder time and I started to get confused and make mistakes. The defence lawyer focussed on the statements Margaret, and I had made, homing in on the fact that Margaret thought that £2,000 was mentioned and I had thought £20,000. I was asked bluntly if I usually wildly exaggerated things up by ten times, how could the jury be reasonably expected to believe anything I said; and so on and so forth, the general tone getting more and more aggressive. I was tired, confused and made a real hash of things but was finally released from the witness box and went home feeling shattered by the experience.

About a week later I was at home when there was a knock at the door. I opened it and standing there with a big grin on his face was the defendant. I do not remember his precise words, but the general tenor of his remarks was that the jury had believed him and not me, and that he had been found not guilty. He then laughed in my face, turned his back on me, walked across the yard, through the gate and disappeared off up the path. I never saw him again.

Postscript. By 1977 a lot had changed in my life. I had qualified as an architect in the summer of 1970 and then worked for in the Portsmouth City Architect’s Department for two years while Margaret did her final two years at School of Architecture to also qualify as an architect in the summer of 1972. We moved back to Manchester where I did a one-year post-graduate course at the University from 1972-3 and was awarded a master’s degree in urban design; then we moved to London, and I worked for a firm of architects in Camden Town 1973-74. I divorced Margaret in 1974; I married Christine – also an architect – in 1975; was employed as Principal Architect by the City of Bath 1975-77 and passed the part one of the Royal Town Planning Institute’s final exams. In 1977 we went to Hong Kong on a three-year contract to work for the Hong Kong Government Public Works Department – the PWD – on Hong Kong Island.

Shortly after arriving in Hong Kong Christine, who had a fine singing voice, joined the Hong Kong Singers, a group of expatriates who staged large scale amateur shows every year in the Hong Kong Arts Centre or the China Fleet Club Theatre. I was soon drafted in to design the stage sets and was assigned a group of stagehands to work with, one of whom turned out to be a senior British police officer, one of many who had been seconded from Britain to Hong Kong to join ICAC – the Independent Commission Against Corruption. This was an organisation which had been set up in 1974 by the Governor Sir Murray Maclehose, independent from the local police force, to combat the rampant corruption both in the police force and in Hong Kong generally. And it was through my meeting this ICAC officer that my own story of the fire in Forton Road 1969 finally surfaced again.

At the first rehearsal the senior police officer was part of the team of stagehands who were practicing speedily changing my sets between acts, and I immediately recognised his Hampshire accent. I chatted to him at the tea break and to my surprise found that his first posting as a new young Inspector in the mid-1950s was to the police station in Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire, where he remained for several years. The police station was immediately across the road from Toynbee Road Secondary Boys’ School that I had left, aged 16, in 1959. I knew the police station well as Gordon Brodie, one of my classmates, lived in a police house across the rear yard from the station. Gordon’s father was a middle-aged police constable, and I often visited their house.

I cannot remember the officer’s name, but his wife called him ‘Roger’. This was not his real name, she explained, but when he joined the police force in the late 1940s, he took lodgings in her parent’s house and they nick-named him ‘Roger the Lodger’ – and it had stuck. Because of the common link with Eastleigh Christine and I got to know him and his wife quite well and we had several meals together at each other’s flats and I heard about his experiences at Eastleigh police station.

Over (several) good meals and some drinks he told us more about his life as a serving police officer. In talking about his years at Eastleigh several names came up of people that he had arrested that I knew, including a few ex-Toynbee pupils. It was all basic stuff: breaking and entering, petty thieving, wife beating and domestics, stealing cars, drunk and disorderly or causing an affray. One of the more serious I recall concerned ‘Soapy’ Hedges, a boy who had been in the year below me. While at school he was a cyclist and had a Rotrax hand-made racing bike which he had sprayed shocking pink, very Avant Garde for the time. He apparently found out that his wife had been having an affair with a neighbour and went after him with a shotgun. There was some sort of stand-off, but it was all apparently resolved without anyone getting hurt.

He did tell me one amusing story. In Eastleigh there were three cafes: the Station, The Cosmo and Denny’s. The station café was the hang out of the motorcycle toughs, the ‘Rockers’, the Cosmo was the hang out of Teddy Boys, the ‘Teds’, who fancied themselves as hard men, and Denny’s, which was the hang out of the Mods and Beats, who liked to think of themselves as more ‘with it’ and fashionable than the inhabitants of the other cafes. As teenagers in the late 1950s I and my mates hung out at Denny’s as the classy girls from the grammar school all went there, and there was always the chance of getting lucky. The inside was all tricked out as a modern coffee bar; colourful Formica topped tables with tubular metal legs and modern chairs of bent plywood, also with metal legs. Its main attraction was that it had a fabulous Wurlitzer juke box with all the latest hit records – three plays for a shilling, or 5p in modern money – and shapely glass bottles of genuine American Coca-Cola at 3 ½ (old) pence each. A dark-haired girl called Josie Honeybone served behind the counter, and she lived in Drake Road, Bishopstoke in the next road to where I lived at No1, White Road. She was rumoured to be nearly twenty and still not engaged or even going ‘steady’ with someone, most unusual for those days in working-class Eastleigh.

Apparently, Denny also owned a small garage and ran a very cheap local car hire company. Roger related that on one occasion in the late 1960s an officer serving with him at Eastleigh Police station had his car nicked. He needed a car for the weekend as he was going somewhere with his family, so Roger suggested that he hire a similar car from Denny. He did so but, while en-route he had a puncture. He changed the wheel and took out the spare from the boot to replace it and found he was holding a wheel from his own stolen car. The officer apparently had, and this is before the days of electronic tagging, put markings on various parts of his car, including the spare wheel. It was found that Denny ran such a cheap car hire business because he nicked similar cars, took them apart and re-cycled the bits as spares for his own legitimately owned vehicles. He went to prison and the café closed.

At one meal, over a few drinks, Roger revealed that his last post in Hampshire before promotion to the national crime squad was as a very senior officer at Portsmouth Police Station. I recalled my experience at the Portsmouth criminal court and gave him a brief potted version. There was a longish pause before he said “Ah, so you were involved in that case, were you? I was not personally involved in it myself, but the file came across my desk, and I was involved subsequently.” I asked him what he meant by that and, after another longish pause, said “Well, I suppose after all this time it will do no harm to tell you.”

This is what he told me:

In the late 1960s there had been a spate of well-planned robberies along the south coast of England. The various police forces were convinced that it was “the same team from The Smoke”, his words, involved in all of them. The modus operandi was to go to a particular area, set up a base, employ some low-level local muscle, suss out opportunities, pull a few jobs then move on.

In the late 1960s they were thought to be operating in the Portsmouth area and the police thought that their current base might be in the Gosport area with suspicion falling on the betting shop next door to where I lived. A betting shop was good cover for re-cycling stolen money and also, they could pay off their local muscle, either by them ‘winning’ bets or ‘employed’ as building workers to renovate the place.

The man I had identified was known to the police, a petty criminal and small-time local muscle with previous form. He was not very bright and, for some reason, had got it into his head that he had been short-changed on what he was owed by the gang. He had apparently got drunk and, in revenge, had set fire to the betting shop to which he still had a key from his time doing work there.

This gave the police their unlooked-for opportunity to get inside information on the gang. If the suspect was convicted of arson the suspect would face several years in prison, so it was decided to offer him the option of becoming their informant in return for dropping all the charges. However, as a police constable, possibly the one I had spoken to, had not only logged the incident and actually gone and arrested the suspect this put the police in a jam. If they just let the suspect go the gang might suspect something and, as a potential informant, he would be of no further use. The only option was to put him on trial but assure him that he would be found not guilty.

So, this is what was done. The whole thing was a charade. I asked ‘Roger’ why they put me through the mill in the witness box. Why did they not come and explain the situation to me, and I could have agreed that I could have been mistaken? Roger said that would not have served the purpose. To maintain the possible use of their inside man my evidence not only had to be discredited but I also had to be totally convincing as a witness. “From what I remember” he said cheerfully “I was told you put up a good show in the witness box.”

He then said that the suspect had subsequently led them to a lock-up in Gosport used by the gang and they had got enough evidence to collar them all. I assume that what he told me was true, as he had no reason to tell me anything, let alone mislead me. But who knows what his agenda actually was?

I recall I could barely conceal a rush of anger, I seemed to have been used as an expendable pawn in a game I did not even know I was playing. Fifty-one years after the court case I am still left with a nasty memory at the way I, a member of the public doing his public duty, was treated. I am left with a “them and us” feeling and would, even now, be extremely reluctant to come forward again as a witness. Do the ends really justify the means?

ADDENDUM 3rd March 2014.

ICAC is alive and well in Hong Kong. Just heard on the radio that a Hong Kong businessman, who owns and is the chairman of Birmingham City Football Club, has just been convicted in Hong Kong of money laundering as he has been found to have HK$55 million dollars of unexplained assets and faces up to 14 years in jail.


In the summer of 1969 at Portsmouth School of Architecture I was about to complete my 5th year of studies and, this time, I was confident that there would be no repeat of my previous 5th year in 1966-67 at Oxford School of Architecture, when I had failed the year, was not able to progress to the 6th and final year and had to leave. It had been a good 5th year at Portsmouth, and I was as certain as one can be, from all the indications from our year master, Mr Hudek, that I had passed with flying colours and would be starting my 6th and final year there that autumn. So, I started to turn my mind to what my final thesis project would be for 1969-70. Rather than designing an individual specimen building I wanted to something on a larger scale; a project encompassing urban design and regeneration, and I had a potential site in mind that would be perfect.

In 1967-68 I worked for a year in Manchester for Wilson and Womersley, a nationally known and growing architectural practice. Under the direction of Hugh Wilson, the Manchester office in Dean Street had produced a master plan for the proposed Manchester Education precinct, a large new University campus said to be the largest in Europe, located immediately to the south of the City Centre. A large site had been completely cleared of derelict and semi-derelict old warehouses, industrial buildings, plus large tracts of cramped, old and sub-standard Victorian terrace houses. I had worked on the design development of the Precinct Centre, the key building in the centre of the proposed overall development, that was intended to be generator of both the design standard and the circulation system between all the future University buildings around it, by the vertical separation of traffic and people by an elevated pedestrian walkway system 20 feet (6M) above ground level that would, in time, link all the existing a future proposed education buildings on the site together.

It was a thoroughly modern, bold an exciting concept which was a development of the ideas that Hugh Wilson had successfully implemented in his many redevelopment and housing projects in post-WW2 Sheffield when he was the City Architect there. However, in the year after leaving Manchester and starting at Portsmouth School of Architecture I had begun to have some reservations about this approach of elevated walkways; highly suitable perhaps to the very hilly Sheffield being applied to this very flat, level site in Manchester.

(See my write – up: Manchester 1967- 68. 02 The Precinct Centre).

For my first major college project earlier in the year for the expansion of the small, rural village of Wickham, Hampshire, to the north of Portsmouth, I had explored the idea of horizontal separation of people and vehicles. (See my write-up: Portsmouth 1968-70. 03. Wickham Project). Building on this I wondered if the same idea could be applied on a larger scale to a City Centre urban redevelopment and regeneration project, and there was a run-down site in Manchester that was due for clearance and redevelopment that was just what I was looking for.

It lay immediately beyond the north boundary of the Manchester Education Precinct site; separated from it by the Mancunian Way, the new, elevated inner ring road, some 20 feet (6M) above ground level. The northern boundary of my proposed site was formed by the very narrow, winding and highly polluted river Medlock, hemmed in on both sides by a narrow band of large, looming Victorian warehouses and old industrial premises, immediately beyond which was the business district and Manchester City centre, the west boundary by Oxford Street and the east by Princess Street. I envisaged some form of mixed development acting as a ‘bridge’ linking the education precinct to the south with the Manchester business and shopping district that started on the other side of the river Medlock. I pitched the idea to Mr Hudek, and he was very supportive of the idea.

At the end of the summer term, I left Margaret in Gosport and went back to work at Wilson and Womersley in Manchester for two months, staying with a friend there in his flat. When I returned to Gosport at the end of the summer I intended to build a 1:500 scale model of my proposed thesis site and the immediate surrounding area, on a 4 feet x 3 feet base board, so in my spare time in Manchester, at evenings and weekends, I collected together 1:500 Ordinance Survey maps plus taking many photos of the existing buildings, and making rough survey notes of their scale, massing and materials they were built with.

At the start of the autumn term of 1969, I was allocated as my thesis tutor a cheerful, energetic part-time lecturer and tutor who lived in London and came to the college in Portsmouth a couple of days a week. I have, sadly, forgotten his name, but he was about 35 and had trained as an architect at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. He shared a small office in London on the first floor of a building overlooking Covent Garden, which I visited a couple of times over the following year for tutorials. He shared the small office with three other young architects, all ex-AA architectural students, one of whom, I recall, was the great granddaughter of Robert Baden-Powel, founder of the world-wide Scout Movement. My tutor was very enthusiastic about my proposed thesis project and, with hindsight, without his continual support, advice, and encouragement, plus the quiet, unofficial backing of my previous year master Mr Hudek; I would have struggled to complete what I did in the year.

The first snag occurred just after the start of the autumn term, when the head of the School of Architecture, Mr Geoffrey Broadbent, intervened. He said that although my proposed Urban Design thesis was very interesting it was, in his opinion, too big and complicated a project for one person. So, he proposed that it be made into a team project, with other students joining me to develop the overall scheme from which each student could select an individual building type in the project to work up into a detailed design for their own personal contribution. As my proposed project included such building types as housing, a sports centre, an exhibition space, a rapid transit station, a health centre, doctor’s surgery and crèche, some small shops, a pub and a multi-story car park there were plenty of building types for each individual to choose from.

So, this is what happened. There were apparently several students in my year who had not decided what they wanted to do for their final thesis, two of whom I had worked with on the Wickham Development project the previous year. So, John Elgie, Sally Bailey and Terry XXX, (can’t recall his last names!) who joined me to form a team that I called “MEPSAC”, short for ‘Manchester Education Precinct Social Activity Centre’, with each of them being allocated their own individual tutor. The four of us together and over the following three or four weeks had roughed out the bones of the development on a series of mostly free-hand sketch drawings, locating the locations, sites, and approximate massing of all the key buildings.

The other three then each chose a building type to design and detail as their individual thesis contribution, as requested by Broadbent. I chose the housing element as it would give me the opportunity to develop my ideas that had first started with my Anglesey Housing project in 1967 and developed further in the Wickham development project the previous year.

Just after Christmas a second snag surfaced. The four of us had spent the rest of the previous term working up the detail design of our individual buildings, but in January I was keen to get us all together to finalise the overall design of the project so we could crack on building the detail 1:500 model to add to the base model I had already completed. Each of us mostly worked at the various places round Portsmouth and Gosport where we lived. None of us had telephones, and mobile phones had not yet been invented. It became increasingly difficult to connect with them let alone be able to get them together. So, I appealed to my tutor to see if he could resolve the difficulty and he said he would have a word with their individual tutors. He did and came back with bad news.

Apparently, now that each of their students had committed themselves to a building type for their thesis, their tutors had decided that they could be developed as individual stand-alone projects that did not need any further involvement with MEPSAC. I was on my own with the development and finishing of the overall development scheme plus, following Mr Broadbent’s intervention, I had also committed myself to develop the individual house designs in detail. So, I had two choices, neither of them ideal: I could either abandon the overall scheme and just develop a stand-alone housing design or I could try to complete the overall design of the development plus the detail design of the housing. I had several stressful but very helpful meetings with both my tutor and Mr Hudek, and we decided that, if I really got stuck in, it would be possible to complete both. So that is what I did, which involved very long hours over the next two terms.

Towards the end of the spring term another issue arose, the possible consequences of which were not apparent until after the end of the summer term. Mr Hudek asked me what I proposed to do after the end of the course. He said that, in addition to the design of individual buildings, I clearly had an interest in Urban Design. He suggested that I could apply for a scholarship somewhere and he had a particular one in mind: the Rome Scholarship. He said I could spend a year studying perhaps Roman or Renaissance city planning and the works of such luminaries as the first century Roman architect, engineer, and writer Vitruvius. It sounded good so I sent off for an application form. The application you had to include a detailed statement setting out what you wanted to study, why and your aspirations which, with the help of Mr Hudek, I put together. However, before I sent it off, Mr Hudek said it would be correct to first get the approval and support of Mt Broadbent as he was the head of the school.

So, I went to see him and his reaction was that he did not think it was appropriate for me. When I asked him why? He said, surprisingly, “Because you are married.” He said that the Rome Scholarship only provided a bursary for one person and, at best only provided hostel accommodation for one, so how would I pay for her living and accommodation expenses in Rome for a year? I suggested that as I hadn’t even got the scholarship yet to raise possible problems at this stage was not helpful. I said that I probably would not even get the scholarship but, if I did, I would cross that bridge when I came to it. He was clearly very unhappy that I did not immediately agree with him and finally, very reluctantly, finally said that I could go ahead and submit the application. I thanked him and left his office. Broadbent did not like people disagreeing with him and I think it was possibly then that he marked my card, the consequences of which did not become apparent until the end of the summer term. (Note: In the event I failed in my application, but at least I had tried!)

To cut to the chase, after a lot of work and a lot of input by my tutor, who knew a lot about the design of modern houses, I finally got everything completed in time to submit my thesis at the end of the summer term. I was a bit miffed when the individual projects of the three so-called members of the team were displayed alongside all my work as part of the MEPSAC project. The RIBA external assessors came and did their stuff, and I was pleased to be told that all four of us had been individually awarded a pass for our work, I was really pleased to have got over the finishing line and at last; and just over ten years since starting work as a sixteen-year-old in the City of Winchester’s Architect’s Office I was finally an Architect

Friday, 3rd July 1970: The Portsmouth evening paper ‘The News’ had a write up of my thesis, including the photograph above.


However, several weeks later, after I had left the school and started work, I heard the back-story to all this from Mr Hudek. Apparently, the system for awarding an architectural diploma was that the visiting external assessors from the Royal Institute of British Architects would look at all the year’s work of each student on display and then decide amongst themselves if each individual merited a failure, pass or even a distinction. They would then recommend the appropriate award to the head of the school, in this case Mr Broadbent, who had the final say. Apparently, the external assessors unanimously agreed that that the other three members of the team should get a pass but that I merited a distinction. Broadbent disagreed, on the grounds that, in his view, we were all part of the MEPSAC team and that either they all merited a distinction or none of them did.

Apparently, my tutor robustly pointed out that the other three members of the team had contributed nothing to the overall project since early January and that the finished result was all my work and there was no reason why one student’s work, even if it were part of a group project, could not merit a different award. But Broadbent would not budge. Mr Hudek was most unhappy with this and so was my extremely helpful tutor. Mr Hudek told me that, following a rather heated discussion with Broadbent over the issue, my tutor had resigned from his post at the school. The school lost a very able and inspiring tutor.

(Note: My retrospective, possibly unkind, thought is that Broadbent maybe took the opportunity to reverse with the external examiner’s recommendation because I had disagreed with him over my Rome Scholarship application. And although when I retrospectively learned of this I was annoyed, at the end of the day I had still qualified and was an Architect.)

A few weeks later I went to the diploma presentation ceremony in Portsmouth Guildhall to collect my Diploma and in the foyer, I was pleased to bump into Mr Hamlin, the excellent woodwork teacher from when I was at Toynbee Road Secondary Boys’ School in Eastleigh, Hampshire in the mid to late 1950s! I was very pleased to see him and thanked him for being so helpful and encouraging and told him that he had taught me such a lot about carpentry plus tools and how to look after them. He told me that his son was graduating that day with a diploma in, if I recall correctly, English. We parted company and I never saw him again.

In the summer of 1972, I was able to tell Mr Hudek the good news that I had been offered a place at the University of Manchester to study for an MA in Urban Design, which I was awarded in 1973. My thesis subject was the regeneration and urban renewal of existing towns, and I produced a detailed scheme for a renewal of the town centre of Eastleigh, Hampshire; a place I knew very well as I had grown up there.

From the Internet today, 5th December 2023, I learnt that Geoffrey Broadbent, professor emeritus at the School of Architecture at the University of Portsmouth, is still alive at the age of 94.

Ireland and Rosbeg.

In August 1970, a week after attending the wedding of Ricky and Annie Pollock on Saturday 25th July at Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire, Margaret, and I went off on holiday for two weeks; our first ever visit to Ireland. I hired a car in Gosport, a Ford Cortina if I remember correctly, and drove to Holyhead, Anglesey, in Wales to catch the ferry to Dublin.

Margaret wrote to me on the 7th of January 2021 with her memories of the trip:

“We drove to Holyhead. We arrived about 5pm on a Sunday (in Wales) just as the tea shop in the harbour closed for the night. The sailing was not until late evening, and we became hungry. Somebody found a Chinese chippy at the top of the hill. You went up and just managed to get a meal for us just as it was closing. We arrived at Dun Laoghaire and drove straight across Ireland to Galway Town (140 miles). Then, as you say, we wandered up the west coast to Donegal. I remember hostile comments in Gaelic, somewhere on the Connemara coast, when our GB plates were spotted. I also remember the two old dears at Lissadell House and their very obvious love of the place. At Rosbeg I remember sponging water out of the shower tray to finish the loo; Norman boiling a lobster; Norman coming home one day with three very small trout which we shared between us for breakfast; a posh dinner in a hotel in Ardara or Glenties where the desert course was tea and soda bread! I also remember watching an Irish version of the Highland Games in one of the two towns.”

Driving the 140 miles west across the middle of Ireland to Galway across Ireland and then northwards through Connemara what was very noticeable was how the pace of life in Ireland was both less hurried and everywhere was so much quieter than in England. It was remarkable how dramatically beautiful, green, and un-populated the countryside was; the road verges full of wildflowers; how few vehicles there were even on the major roads and even how narrow they were compared with the major roads in the UK. On the minor roads sometimes, we would sometimes drive for an hour without seeing another vehicle. At one time we were driving along a minor road through particularly beautiful but bleak countryside, en route to Westport via its county town of Clifden. I put the car in first gear, and we trickled along slowly for perhaps an hour with me mostly driving with my knees wedged under the steering wheel. For all that time we saw no buildings, people, traffic or even animals in the occasional fields the whole time.

A memorable stop for me was our visit to Lissadell House on the south shore of Magherow peninsula in northern County Sligo overlooking Drumcliff Bay. The estate was formed from land granted in the early 17th century to the Elizabethan soldier Sir Paul Gore for his services to the English crown during the Nine Years’ War. The original seat of the estate was at Ardtermon Castle, a 17th-century fortified house several kilometres to the west. The present house replaced an earlier 13th century house closer to the shore and which had been demolished.

The house was designed by the London architect, Francis Goodwin and was built between 1830 and 1835, and inhabited from 1833 onwards, for Sir Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet (1784–1835). In 1876, Sir Robert left the house and surrounding estate to his son, Sir Henry Gore-Booth, 5th Baronet. Designed in a neo-classical Greek revivalist style and described as “austere in the extreme”; Lissadell house is a detached nine-bay, two-storey over basement mansion, the last country house to be built in this style in Ireland and was built of Ballysadare limestone with finely jointed ashlar walling. An entrance front is on the north with a three-bay pedimented central projection, originally open to east and west to form porte-cochere.

Prior to its sale in 2003 Lissadell was the only house in Ireland to retain its original Williams & Gibton furniture which was made especially for the house and designed to harmonise with Goodwin’s architectural vision. Lissadell was the also the first country house in Ireland to have an independent gas supply piped into the property.

The estate was once 32,000 acres (13,000 ha) but now consists of less than 500 acres (200ha), the immediate demesne of the house. The house was the childhood home of Irish revolutionary, Constance Gore-Booth, her sister the poet and suffragist, Eva Gore-Booth, and their siblings, Mabel Gore-Booth, Mordaunt Gore-Booth, and Josslyn Gore-Booth. It was also the sometime holiday retreat of the world-renowned poet, William Butler Yeats. He made the house famous with the opening lines of his poem:

“In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz”

The light of evening, Lissadell,

Great windows open to the south,

Two girls in silk kimonos, both

Beautiful, one a gazelle.

We were made welcome, paid the modest entrance fee and were shown around some of the rooms on the ground floor. The place appeared to be quite run-down, but it was very pleasant inside, especially the sitting room which, we were told, was the favourite room of Eve Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz; né Gore-Booth.

In 2003, the house was put up for sale by the then owner, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth (a grand-nephew of the original Josslyn Gore-Booth), for €3 million. The sale was controversial because, as well as being one of Ireland’s finest houses, there are many historical associations with the house. Because of its links to Markievicz and the 1916 Easter Rising, it can be argued that the house is inextricably linked to the foundation of the state. Many, including Sir Josslyn himself, hoped that it would be purchased by the state stating, “Suffice it to say I would welcome an interest on the part of the state”. However, the then Fianna Fáil government under Bertie Ahern waived any interest in the estate, citing a cost report commissioned by Environment Minister Martin Cullen which suggested that the overall cost to the State of purchasing Lissadell and refurbishing it as a major visitor attraction would cost in the region of €28 million, a figure which has been claimed to be inaccurate by many, including Sir Josslyn himself. The state also waived any interest in the auction of the contents of the house. A consortium was set up consisting of businessmen and politicians to buy the house in trust for the state; however, in 2003, the house was eventually sold to a private couple, the prominent Dublin barristers Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy, who began to restrict access through the estate shortly after, citing privacy and safety concerns. They initiated a program of restoration of the house and grounds. In 2006 a €1.1 million state grant was made available by Fáilte Ireland towards the restoration of the gardens.

We eventually arrived at Cuthbert cottage in Rosbeg where Christine and her parents had invited us to stay for a few days. The two-bedroom cottage was built in 1964 and Christine’s parents, both academics, usually went there every year over the summer holidays. Christine and her parents were already there, and she stayed for a few days to show us a round, before having to go off back to Portsmouth for some re-sits for her architectural final exams.

Before Christine left to go back to Portsmouth for her re-sits, we had a meal in the Highland Hotel in Glenties. Margaret and I decided to take Christine and her parents out for a meal one evening to thank them for their hospitality and they recommended the hotel; twelve miles from Rosbeg in the small town of Glenties (population 805). It seemed a very up-market, ‘posh’ place to me, with a proper separate (carpeted) dining room; tables with white tablecloths and table service; quite unlike the cheap cafes and student refectories I was used to. The five of us had this substantial meal of several courses and, when the bill arrived for £7-50, I recall being taken aback as I assumed it was per head. For the five of us that would have been £37-50 without a tip, and we only had about £20 left between the two of us. I was mightily relieved when it was pointed out to me that the price of £7-50 was for the whole meal for the five of us! Absolutely unbelievably cheap!

Christine also remembered taking us on a trip to Port, a fishing village abandoned during the famine; half an hour’s drive from Ardara, and miles from anywhere in a remote valley on the Atlantic coast. We drove up Glengesh, the steep hill from Ardara, on the Killybegs Road, then turning right onto a single-track road winding west through bleak, empty bog land and heather-covered rocky hills. The road deteriorated into a gravel track with grass growing up the middle and Christine recalls me not believing that the road could be leading anywhere. At a point along the track, she said we stopped, and both Margaret and Christine darted off behind a nearby peat stack for a ‘comfort stop’. (See photo below).

At the end of our holiday Margaret and I were booked on a ferry back England from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Stranraer in Scotland, followed by the 450-mile drive back south to our home in Gosport, Hampshire. Christine’s parents, Norman, and Kathleen Cuthbert, kindly let us stay the night before in their house at No 12, Osborne Park, Belfast, and he even kindly told me where he kept his bottle of whisky and told me to help myself! Christine gave us a key to her parent’s house before she left Rosbeg and told us just to put the key back through the letterbox when we left to catch the ferry the next morning.

In 2020 when, as usual, we expected to be holidaying at Rosbeg we were going to have a party to celebrate fifty years since I first went there, and both Caroline and Jamie had booked up to come over with their families. We had had also invited several friends from Northern Ireland and some local friends from Rosbeg. However, the best laid plans of mice, men, and Covid-19 etc…….Maybe I will be able to have a 51st party in 2021- or 52nd in 2022. Who knows? It will depend on how the Covid-19 pandemic plays out.


Appendix A. The Secondary School System in 1959.

Introduction. As a prelude to recording my recollections of the 1960s; starting my first job and commencing further education I felt it was important to do some research and understand something about the state of the secondary education system in 1959, which was when I left school. What were the origins of the education system in Britain, how had it evolved over the centuries, and what had influenced its development into the post-1945 dual State / Grammar School system that were available to educate working-class pupils like me?

Historical Development. From the 16th century most schools in Britain were founded and run by the Church of England until the establishment of free, compulsory education towards the end of the 19th century. By 1959 it had developed into a primary and secondary school system, with compulsory primary schooling for children up to the age of 11 and secondary schooling from 11 to 15 and consisted of four distinct types of schools: Private, Public, Grammar and State.

Private Schools are also called Independent Schools, and some date back several centuries as they were founded ‘independent’ of the church schools. Independent schools have a long history in England; some having been founded before the Norman Conquest in 1066. The oldest is King’s School, Canterbury, which was founded in 597. Many independent schools were charitable foundations. A group of these charity schools, much later, invoked the name “public school” to indicate that they were open to the public regardless of religious beliefs. They were for male scholars only and were founded by individuals and were run purely for the profit of the headmaster or Trustees. They were both boarding and day schools with a catchment area of their immediate locality or slightly wider for the more successful. There was originally no entrance examination, the only requirement being the ability to afford the annual fees, and their pupils were mainly from the local squirearchy and the increasingly successful middle classes, mainly from a background in trade, whose parents did not have the social acceptability, contacts, or finances to gain entrée to the public schools. In 2011 there were more than 1,600 Independent Schools in the UK with entrance now by selective examination and annual fees ranging from £16,000 to £30,000. These tend to be the preferred choice for the children of the professional middle classes, the upwardly mobile or the children of the nouveau riche.

Public Schools were usually boarding schools, with a few being day-schools, for male scholars only. The term “public” being used to indicate that access to them was not restricted because of religion, occupation, or home location, and that they were subject to public management or control. Admission is by a selective entrance examination and their catchment area was the whole of the UK and for the extremely wealthy and well-connected from abroad. They were, and still are, non-profit making establishments but because of the high cost of their annual fees and social exclusiveness (the current basic annual fees per student at Eton College is £33,000) they were and still are mostly for the children of the well-connected rich, aristocratic, and upper classes. Between the 15th and 17th centuries nine public schools were founded which today are recognised as the elite establishments: Eton, Winchester College, Charterhouse School, Rugby School, Westminster, Marlborough College, Dulwich College, Harrow School, St Paul’s Boys’ School, and Wellington College.

Up to World War II, the role of public schools in preparing pupils for the gentlemanly elite meant that such education, particularly in its classical focus and social mannerism, became a mark of the ruling class. For three hundred years, the officers and senior administrators of the British Empire usually sent their sons back home to boarding schools for education as gentlemen, often for uninterrupted periods of a year or more at a time. The 19th-century public school ethos promoted ideas of service to Crown and Empire, understood by the broader public in familiar sentiments such as “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” and “the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”. Ex-pupils often had, and still have, a nostalgic affection for their old schools and a public-school tie and “old boy network” of former pupils could be useful in a career. The effectiveness of Public Schools in helping the ruling elite maintain their grip on power can be demonstrated by the fact that half the cabinet members of David Cameron’s Government in 2010-16 were educated at this small group of elite public schools, as were the leaders of the three main political parties: Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party (David Cameron: Eton College), Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats (Nick Clegg: Westminster School) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne: St Paul’s School.)

Grammar Schools were originally charitable, non-profit making establishments which offered places based on an entrance test and were either free, if the school was well-endowed by benefactors, or charged only modest fees. In 16th century Tudor England, the existing grammar schools were reorganised, and new ones instituted so that there was a national system of “free grammar schools” that were in theory open to all and offered free tuition to those who could not afford to pay fees. The vast majority of poor children did not attend these schools since their labour was economically valuable to their families.

By 1900 there were 782 Grammar Schools in Britain, many of which were founded in the last quarter of the 19th century. They were day schools whose catchment areas were their immediate local area and had become places where the middle-class sons of the local minor gentry, landowners, professionals, and merchants received a basic education. Places were highly desired by Victorian families as they offered a good education at a modest cost with the potential benefits of students getting a good job and a measure of social advancement. These schools were widely admired and were to become a model for the tier-structured education reforms of the 1940s, when 1200 Grammar schools became fully government funded.

State Schools are all funded through local or national taxation. Until 1870 all schools were charitable or private institutions, but in that year the Elementary Education Act 1870 permitted local governments to complement the existing elementary schools, to fill up any gaps. The Education Act 1902 allowed local authorities to create secondary schools. The Education Act 1918 abolished fees for elementary schools. The state schools provided compulsory free education to all pupils up to the age of 15 in the 1950s, later raised to 16 in the1970s, and their catchment area is usually their immediate locality.

The Tripartite System. Prior to 1944 the British secondary education system was fundamentally an ad hoc creation. Access was not universally available and varied greatly by region. Schools had been created by local government, private charity, and religious foundations. Education was often a serious drain on family resources, and subsidies for school expenses were sporadic. Prior to 1945 secondary education was mainly the preserve of the middle classes, and in 1938 only 13% of working class 13-year-olds were still in school.

In 1945 the Labour Party won the elections and came to power. They were determined to create a socialist meritocracy, with equality of opportunity for all rather than the privileged few. Their long-term aim was to encourage social mobility by reforming the British education system to ensure that the brightest and the best, from whatever level of society, had equality of opportunity and so created a national system of state-funded secondary education, which lasted until 1976. State funded secondary education was re-arranged into a structure, called the “Tripartite System”, containing principally two types of school, namely: the Grammar school and the Secondary Modern school, although some areas also included a third type, a secondary technical school.

All children went to a Junior School and, at the age of eleven, took an exam called the ‘Eleven Plus.’ Those that failed to pass this exam went to their local Secondary Modern School where, in the 1950s, education was compulsory for all up to the age of 15. There they receive a basic education and lessons, for the boys, in such practical subjects as technical drawing, woodworking and metal working. When they left school at 15, they went into ‘blue collar’ working class occupations in industry and commerce such as general labourers and building workers, trade apprentices, shop, or factory workers.

Those that passed the eleven plus examination went to their local Grammar School, where they could continue their education up until the age of 16 or 18. They received a more rigorous academic education, which included Science subjects, Latin, and modern languages. At 16 they took ‘O’ level exams which, if they then left school, made them eligible to work in ‘white collar’ jobs with additional vocational training, such as office workers, secretaries, clerks, and nurses. Those that stayed on to 18 took ‘A’ level examinations which enabled them to go on to local technical or art collages, and thence into ‘white collar’ lower-middle class occupations. The more academically gifted went on to university which gave them the entree into both middle-class careers, and, for the really clever, into the careers that were traditionally the preserve of the upper-middle classes.

The Rise and Fall of Meritocracy However, by the late 1950s there was a growing dissatisfaction on the part of those on the left in the Labour Party with the results of the Tripartite System. In 1958 the sociologist Michael Young published a book entitled The Rise of the Meritocracy. A mock-historical account of British education viewed from the year 2033, it satirised the beliefs of those who supported the Tripartite System. Young argued that grammar schools were instituting a new elite, the meritocracy, and building an underclass to match. If allowed to continue, selective education would lead to renewed inequality and eventually revolution. Whereas the previous generation of Labour politicians had focused on the social mobility afforded to those who passed their Eleven Plus, now concern became focused upon those who were sent to secondary moderns. Once the Tripartite System had been implemented, the middle classes were found to be much more likely to win places at grammar schools. It was feared that society was being divided into a well-educated middle-class elite from the Grammar schools and the poorly educated working class from the modern State schools, or “eggheads and serfs“. To some on the left it became an article of faith that the only way to bring about equality was by putting everyone, regardless of ability, through the same non-selective schools.

In July 1958 the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell formally abandoned the tripartite system, calling for “grammar-school education for all.” The party’s fiercest opponent of the Grammar school was Gaitskell’s protégé, Anthony Crosland. Experiments with non-selective comprehensive schools had begun in 1949 which, as it offered an alternative approach to the education of the masses, was eagerly embraced by the opponents of the existing State/ Grammar school system. Comprehensives were held up as less divisive, and pupils were said to ‘benefit’ from the abolition of selection.

Paradoxically, at the same time as Labour was attacking the Tripartite System for its alleged social inequalities, the Conservative middle and upper classes became increasingly concerned at the results of the social mobility the tripartite system fostered. As educational testing became more exact and subject to less class bias, an increasing proportion of middle-class children were failing the eleven plus being sent to secondary moderns, and having to be educated amongst the working class!

For the upper classes the concern was all about maintaining the status quo and their traditional grip on the levers of power. The success of the tripartite system resulted in many intelligent, gifted, and able people from working-class backgrounds becoming extremely well educated and, often with radically different agendas from the ruling elite, starting to rock the boat by infiltrating the upper levels of the government, the civil service and business; even becoming Prime Ministers in the cases of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

The Comprehensive System. The tripartite system continued under the Conservative governments of 1951 to 1964 but was actively discouraged by the Labour government after 1965. The 1976 Education Act forbade selection of pupils by ability, officially ending the Tripartite System. It was formally abolished in England and Wales in 1976, giving way to the non-selective, co-educational Comprehensive School system. Today there are fewer than 120 grammar schools remaining in England and Wales, many of them in name only as they are now selective fee-paying independent schools. The abolition of the grammar schools also proved a godsend to the existing fee-paying independent schools. Free, high-quality education at grammar schools for the brightest pupils had dramatically reduced the number of their students, from around 10% of the school population to 5.5%. However, now that comprehensive equality had been instituted, a large number of parents were willing to pay to extricate their children from it. Most of the direct grant grammar schools converted to fully fee-paying independent schools, retaining selection of entrants. The proportion of children opting out of the state system continued to rise until recently, standing at around 8%.

After implementing a genuinely radical new approach to education in post-1945 Britain which not only made it possible for bright working class children to become well-educated but also created the possibility of social mobility from the working class into the increasingly well-educated ranks of the middle classes, the Labour Party could not accept the logic of the final result: there will still be two classes – those who have academic ability and those who do not; those who can achieve things and those that can’t. There is a quotation of Dale Carnegie in his leadership course that neatly sums up the point “I know men in the ranks who will always be in the ranks. Why? I’ll tell you why: They haven’t the ability to get things done!” In a retreat to the Labour Party’s default position of dogma and envy of success, their only solution was to abolish the increasingly successful two-school system based on selection and ability. In its place they imposed a single secondary education system called Comprehensive Schools; state funded and under the control of each local authorities’ education department. It is a non-selective, co-educational system where all pupils are taught from the same standard national curriculum which, in theory, ensured that all the schools were the same and so that all its pupils have an equal chance.

This, of course, assumes that all children have the same basic level of intelligence and natural ability. All classes were of mixed ability as ‘streaming’ of the more or less able pupils into separate classes, even by subject, was not allowed. The pace of progress of such a class, like a refugee column, tended to move at the pace of the slowest. Teacher’s time was increasingly focussed on those at the bottom end of the class while those brighter ones at the top end were not challenged enough and got bored.

However, there were unintended consequences. By the 1990s there were many well-established comprehensive schools in both solid middle class and working-class areas. Many in the middle-class areas were constantly improving their academic performance, with such schools being ably supported by the pupil’s educated and vocal parents, who also constantly encouraged their children to learn. Some Comprehensives got such a good reputation that middle-class families moved houses into the school’s catchment area so their children could attend the school. Other Comprehensive Schools in working class or immigrant areas really struggled, with poor academic records, as they got little or no support from the working-class parents and the pupils performed poorly either because English was not their first language, or they came from families where education had a low priority.

By the beginning of the 21st century concern grew that the comprehensive schools could inadvertently evolve into another de-facto two-tier system; a meritocracy of pupils from successful comprehensives and an underclass of those from the unsuccessful ones. It is a vicious circle: good schools tend to attract good teachers while poorly performing schools do not. The good ones get better, while the worse ones do not. The official answer to this dilemma- to ‘create a level playing field of equal opportunity for all’– was to reduce the immediate catchment areas of successful comprehensives, with a cap on the number of local children admitted to the school each year, with the full complement being made up by allowing children from neighbouring, less fortunate catchment areas to attend the school, a modern version of ‘bussing’. It was also made an offence for a parent to make any false residency statements on a pupil’s application papers, such as if they did not actually live in the school’s catchment area but, as their alleged home address, used that of a parent or other family member who did.

The comprehensive school approach to education, of course, exactly suited both the Labour Party, with its dogmatic position on educational equality, and the Conservative Party with its traditional upper-middle class supporters. By dividing the education system so clearly between free education for the masses in comprehensive schools and that of the middle and upper-middle classes in fee-paying selective entrance public and private schools, it again emphasizes the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have not’s’. As far as the traditional ruling elite are concerned the equilibrium had been restored with a clear divide once more delineated between the rulers and the ruled.

In this case I know whereof I write. I was one of those fortunate working-class boys who, in the narrow window of opportunity between the late 1950s and mid-1970s, were able to benefit from affordable further education and its potential for social mobility. In the 1930s my father, a Londoner, left school at thirteen and trained as a bricklayer. For the previous 300 years all his family, from father to son, had been in the building trade as bricklayers, masons, craftsmen, and small local general building contractors. Also, in the 1930s my mother left her village school at the age of 13 and became a servant. She grew up in a village in rural Dorset where generations of her family were workers and servants on the Strangways (now Fox-Strangways) estate which has been in the ownership of the same family since the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century.

By 1954 my father had left us permanently, leaving me, my sister and mother living in a house in the village of Bishopstoke in Hampshire. As my mother was totally deaf partially disabled, she could not work so lived for the rest of her life on National Assistance until she died in 1993. My sister Diane left school at 15 and went to work in a factory in the nearby town of Eastleigh. I attended a boys’ secondary school in Eastleigh leaving in 1959, aged 16, with a six “O” levels; this being only the second year of the school ever to take these exams. I was unable to go on to the local grammar school because of the need for me to get a job and contribute to the family income but, with luck and a following wind, in the following decade I was able to take advantage of the opportunities for further education available to working-class people like me. I was the first one in my family ever to go on to further education, get a degree in 1970, enter a profession, get a post-graduate MA in 1973 and eventually to enter the lower ranks of the middle class. Sadly, today in 2020, for many reasons outside the scope of my recollections of the 1960s, the educational and social mobility that was possible to the working class in that decade appears to be no longer possible.

Appendix B. Schools, Education and Social Mobility.

For two years from 1954 to 1956 I was a boarder at Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich, Kent, which was a direct grant grammar school. In the following six decades I read many contributions to the Old Manwoodian Association Newsletter by ex-pupils of the 1950s and 60s and have been impressed by what so many of them have achieved not only in their personal lives but also in their subsequent careers in business, the professions, the armed forces, education, sports, and the arts.

It occurred to me that those two decades of the 1950s and 1960s were a crucial period for the development of secondary education in Britain. For that brief period of time a window of opportunity opened which positively encouraged social mobility; where advancement was based on ability rather than inherited wealth, family, or social connections. The combination of the secondary school, direct grant grammar schools and virtually free further education by the university grants system allowed boys and girls, often from the humblest working-class backgrounds, to become highly educated, go to university, and subsequently have successful careers.

Teachers were a crucial part of this revolution in education and the best of them were able to motivate and raise the expectations of pupils from family backgrounds where no or low educational attainment had been the norm for generations. For me it took several decades before I fully appreciated the vital contribution a few teachers, both at Manwood’s- for all the wrong reasons- and Toynbee- for all the right ones- had on my future development: teaching me the value of education and the commitment to study.

A perfect example of this is the school I went to in the autumn 1956 after leaving Manwood’s. It was a boys’ secondary modern-day school in the Hampshire railway town of Eastleigh and the pupils in my year were all from working class backgrounds. Their fathers worked in the local railway works as engine drivers, shunters, gangers, platelayers, or in the heavy engineering and carriage works. Others worked on building sites as labourers and tradesmen or in the local cable, printing works, bakery, and car plant. Their sons left school at fifteen to follow their fathers and even grandfathers not only into the same occupation but often even into the same company. The majority of them lived in Victorian terrace houses, many in rented from their railway works employer, or in council houses as very few owned their own homes. The fathers rode bicycles to work, although a few of the better-off ones had motorcycles with side cars. Most of them had never travelled abroad, except for war-time service, and their two-week annual works holiday was usually spent at home tending their allotments, day trips by rail, camping with their family, a week in a sea-side bed and breakfast or at a holiday camp.

At this particular school, Toynbee Road Secondary Boys Day School in Toynbee Road, there was a small group of teachers, particularly our form master Ian Millen, who believed in motivating and encouraging us pupils in the belief that anything was possible in our future if we worked hard enough. My year was only the second year in the history of the school to take “O” level exams – or any exams at all, to be precise. When we left school at sixteen my twelve classmates all scattered and we soon lost touch. No homes had telephones; mobile phones, texting, twitter, and the internet did not exist and there was no Toynbee equivalent of the Old Manwoodian Association or newsletter to keep ex-pupils in touch.

Fifty years to the day after leaving school in the summer of 1959 I organised a reunion at Toynbee. It took many months of work to track down all my ex-fellow pupils in various parts of the UK, but I finally succeeded with the exception of one, last heard of in South Africa, and two who had died. I even managed to track down our inspirational form master who had emigrated to Australia in the 1970s; finally locating him living in retirement in Tasmania, but sadly he was too infirm to travel back to the UK for the reunion and has since died.

When we all finally met it was, for the majority, the first time since the day they left school fifty years before. I discovered that not one of my year had followed their fathers into the same occupation and only a few had stayed in the same locality. Most of them had continued to further education and had certificates, diplomas, and degrees. Their occupations ranged from a local government Treasury officer, a draughtsman, electrician, London Underground station master and policemen to structural engineer, architects, business managers and one, a Pole, running his own Polish employment agency between the UK and Poland. One had trained as a nurse, unusual for a man in those days, and worked for several years for charities in third world countries before ending up in charge of a college training nurses. In addition, several had worked in various parts of the world and for most of them travelling abroad for a holiday was the norm. It was nothing short of a social revolution. Not one of them could be described as working class or even ‘blue collar’. To a man they were now all middle class.

My own family history is a case in point. My mother was a servant whose mother came from many generations of estate workers in Abbotsbury, Dorset. Her paternal grandfather was an ostler – a stableman – who came from generations of estate workers in Puddletown, Dorset. In the late 19th century, he set up his own business there as local Carrier, delivering goods by horse-drawn wagons. His son, my maternal grandfather, took over the expanding business and was one of the first carriers in Dorset to switch from horses to lorries and open a garage before WW1. So, he was a businessman in a small way.

My father, from Walthamstow, London, trained as a bricklayer and came from generations of Kings who I have now traced back to the village of Wood Norton, Norfolk in c1720. From that date until my father’s generation all the Kings, father to son, were in construction as master masons, bricklayers, carpenters, painters, or small general builders. They were skilled working class and small businessmen and when necessary were members of the armed forces. Only one of my many King cousins carried on in this tradition of skilled craftsmen. Other cousins have followed a wide variety of careers including an airline pilot in America and university professor in Australia.

Concerning educational opportunities and social mobility in the 1950s and 1960s, in my own case I discovered that I was the first person from either side of my family to stay on at school beyond fifteen, take “O” Level exams and then continue to further education although, as I have noted above, other members of the wider King family of my generation soon followed in my footsteps. After starting work in 1959 as an office boy / trainee draughtsman I commenced my professional education at evening classes at Southampton College of Art; eventually going full time at Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1968. Even as a mature full-time student, I was 25, the university grants system still paid my tuition fees for both my Diploma in Architecture at Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1970 and then for a master’s degree in urban design at Manchester University in 1974. My living expenses I paid myself, so I left college with no student debt. As an architect I became the first member of my family to join a profession and enter the ranks of the middle class. In a 50-year career in I have worked in various parts of the UK, in the Middle and Far East and have travelled extensively visiting more than 25 countries. From labouring class to working class to middle class in three generations, the result of education, opportunity, and a reflection of the enormous social changes of the 1950s and 60s.

Neither my daughter nor son has anything to do with the building industry so the 300-year working class King family link with building construction has finally ended. Both went to private schools, thanks to their late maternal grandparents – before going to university. With their student loans paid off by their maternal grandmother they are now both pursuing debt-free useful middle-class careers; one in marketing and the other as a pharmaceutical research chemist. But will this be possible for their children and grandchildren?

In 1975 the post war direct grant scheme, which enabled clever pupils from working class backgrounds to attend Grammar Schools, was abolished by the then Labour government. Some independent schools, most of which have charitable status, started to provide their own funding for pupils from poorer backgrounds through bursaries, the first being Clifton College, Bristol in1981. In 1985 an Assisted Places scheme for grammar schools – a sort of modified direct grant system – was introduced by the then Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. This lasted until 1997 when the then Labour government cancelled it. Those schools which could not remain financially independent were rebadged as co-educational comprehensive schools, despite the growing body of evidence at that time of the often indifferent or low standards of the existing Comprehensive Schools.

From the 1970s onwards the loss of income by the grammar schools from the direct grant and then the assisted places schemes meant that those who remained fully independent had to start charging fees. The result is the continuing rising cost of private education which has become increasingly the preserve of only those who can afford it, with fees at top private or independent schools today costing up to £40,000 p.a. In parallel to this was the ending in 1998 of the university grants system, which had effectively meant free higher education, and the introduction first of university fees and then student ‘loans’ which now, in 2018, results in each student leaving University with debts of between £30,000 and £50,000. Owing to ever spiralling costs, including university vice-chancellors now being paid up to £450,000 pa, further education is once again threatening to become the preserve of the wealthy or well-connected. Also, there is, since the 1990s, an increasingly worrying trend away from the post-WW2 concept of a democratic society based on meritocracy and a return to one based on inherited wealth, or family, social and business connections.

Will my grand or great-grandchildren have the same opportunities I had for education, self-improvement and social mobility or will it be the case for my descendants of “rags to rags in three generations” as an old saying, has it? That is why I feel that the continuing existence, development, and success of schools like Sir Roger Manwood’s and Toynbee are so important. They are centres of excellence who can educate, motivate, and inspire future generations of pupils, from whatever social or economic background, to overcome all obstacles to achieve their full potential.

Appendix C. Eastleigh 50 Years later: 1959-2009

Today, Friday 24th July 2009, it is exactly 50 years to the day when, aged 16years and 3 months, I left Toynbee Secondary Boys School, Toynbee Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire for the last time. From 1957 I had been a day pupil at the school and, under the guidance of our class and maths teacher Ian ‘Maxi’ Millen, had achieved 4 passes in the Royal Society of Arts exams and 6 passes at GCE ‘O’ level. I had no idea of what I wanted to for a living and, along with all my classmates from Form 5G, joined all the other school leavers looking for work.

Looking back 50 years later I can now appreciate the extraordinary social, economic, industrial, and political changes that have taken place in Eastleigh in last 50 years which, if we had been told were going to happen, would have sounded like science fiction and would not have believed. The world I knew then has largely vanished and is but a distant memory.

Eastleigh was originally named Bishopstoke Junction, named after the nearby village of Bishopstoke. It was a small station built in 1838 at what is now the junction of the main north- south London to Southampton railway line with the north-west, south-east Bristol to Portsmouth line. The railway company built a few cottages for its employees and by 1881 the growing town, by then renamed Eastleigh, had a population of about 1000. In 1889 the railway company began building a wagon and carriage works and in 1909 a locomotive works.

This new industry meant that Eastleigh boomed, and the expanding town was laid out on a grid-iron of uniform streets lined with rows of 2-story, redbrick, grey slate-roofed Victorian terrace houses. In 1893 a local board was formed in Eastleigh to regulate the development of the town. There were no sewers, drains or streetlights and the unpaved roads were in a very poor condition. The Local Board set about constructing drains, building pavements and kerbs, and putting in street lighting but roads were not made up until the 20th century. In 1895 the Local Board was replaced with an Urban District Council and in 1899 the two communities of Eastleigh and Bishopstoke were merged. In 1892 the railway company built a Railway Institute for its employee’s recreation. In 1896 the council bought an adjacent field and laid it out as a park, complete with a band stand.

The Town Hall was built in 1899 in the latest ‘Queen Anne’ style and the first cinema in Eastleigh opened in 1911. By 1901 Eastleigh had grown into a small town with a population of over 9,000.

Eastleigh airport began life in 1910 when an early aviator called Eric Moon flew an aircraft called the Moonbeam from fields in a nearby farm. In 1917 the farm was made into a military airfield and in 1929 it became Southampton Municipal Airport. The WW2 Spitfire fighter plane made its maiden flight from the airport in 1936.

A new era began in Eastleigh in 1921 when Pirelli opened a cable factory there which further boosted its industrial growth. In the 1920s the first council houses were built, the Public Library in 1935 and in 1936 Eastleigh was made a borough.

At its peak the railway works alone employed 2,600 people but, from the 1960’s when the railways were in decline, first the wagon and carriage works were closed, and the locomotive works were gradually run down until it was closed in 2006 with the loss of the final 500 jobs. The large Pirelli factory has also closed, as have most of the other heavy and often dirty industrial concerns. Eastleigh has changed from an industrial town that made things into a place where the major employers are now the service industries or light industries and currently has a population of around 120,000.

In the late 1950s most of the parents of my school friends were working class, employed in the often dirty and physically hard jobs at the wagon works, the locomotive works, or in the shunting yards, in Pirelli’s, Caustons the Printers or the timber yard. Others were employed as station staff, worked on the buses, were firemen, policemen or worked in shops.

Nobody I knew had a telephone in their house. On the very rare occasions a telephone call had to be made, the nearest public telephone had to be used. I cannot recall anyone who had a TV, which in those days were still black and white and only had two or three channels. Everybody listened to the wireless, with many renting their TV sets from a local company called ‘Rent a Set’, which only gave four channels.

Families with gramophones at home usually had the electric powered, large, wood-veneered units with a built-in radio and valves that had to warm up first, which was normally kept in the front or ‘best’ room. Others still used wind-up portables, although the first of the (comparatively) lightweight electric portable sets were becoming popular with the ‘with it’ teenagers. Mostly records were the traditional large Bakelite 78 discs, but the sale of the new vinyl 45s with the latest pop songs of the day were rapidly increasing and smaller, lighter electric portable record players were becoming available. Radio Luxemburg was the station of choice by the teenagers of my generation, and it was almost social death not to have stayed up from 11 until midnight on Sunday to hear the latest top 20 pop record played and to find out which was the new No 1.

Private cars were few and far between, only owned by well-off people like doctors, bank managers, vets, and businessmen. Everybody else walked, used bicycles or the local buses while a few of the older workers had a motorcycle, many with a side car attached.

Very few people owned their own house. Most people either rented privately or from their employers. The railway works owned many terrace houses in Eastleigh which often had their woodwork painted green and cream. These were usually two- or three-bedroom Victorian terrace houses of red brick with grey slate roofs. They were of three basic types, the first having two sliding sash windows at ground and first floor, the second a bay window on the ground floor with two sash windows at first floor, and on the third the bay window extended up to the first floor. From the small front garden, the front door led straight into a hall/ corridor from front to back that also contained the stairs to the first floor. The first door in the corridor led into the front room, and the second into the back room. From the back room there was a door leading to the rear extension containing the kitchen with a door to the rear garden, a scullery or larder and an outside toilet and coal store. Above the kitchen was either a third bedroom or, in several cases, it had been converted into a bathroom with inside toilet. The oldest terrace houses only had a rear yard with a rear pedestrian lane access. The later ones had long narrow gardens with a rear lane access wide enough for a car so, when car ownership became more usual in the 1960’s, many of the sheds at the end of each garden became converted into garages.

The living or ‘back’ room was where most of family life happened: eating, reading, playing cards, listening to the radio, doing homework, entertaining friends, or just sitting around the fire talking. They were very simply furnished, with lino or mats on the floor, and an unmatched mix of second-hand furniture and pieces passed on from parents or relatives. The fire was usually burning most of the year with clothes always drying in front or above it. ‘Father’ or ‘Dad’ would have his own special chair to one side in which he would sit reading the paper after coming in from his shift at the railway works while ‘Mother’ laid the table for the evening cooked meal which was usually just after 6. Food was very basic, with none of the luxury items that most of us take for granted today. Cups of tea were always on the go and even now, 50 years later, when I visit the mother of an old school friend the first question on my arrival is always ‘would you like a cup of tea?’

The front or ‘best’ room was the one where there might be a matching 3-piece suite, a carpet, curtains, ornaments, and pictures. There would often be a glass fronted cabinet in a corner containing best china, mementoes, and special ornaments with family photos in frames on the top. This room was only used to entertain special visitors or at Christmas.

Workers had an annual holiday when a place like the railway works would close for a complete week or fortnight. Holidays for the luckier ones might be camping or in a caravan somewhere, a holiday camp, or even a week at a boarding house. Others would just be at home working in their gardens or allotments with maybe a day trip by rail to the nearest seaside.

Most of the families I knew whose fathers were employed in the railway works were low paid unskilled or semi-skilled, working as labourers, track layers or station porters with a few having a specialist skill or trade such as engine driver, shunter, machinist, or welder. Of three other friends, the father of one was a police constable, another did land surveys for the Ordinance Survey and a third ran a small newspaper and tobacconist shop. Most men were paid weekly in cash, as hardly anyone had a bank account. Money was always very tight but, with very careful budgeting, it just got them through the week until the next Friday night pay-day, with nothing to spare for anything other than necessities. Parents could occasionally go to the pictures but usually they went to one of the local working men’s clubs for a Friday night pint and a game of darts or dominoes, while their wives gossiped with each other. An unexpected need for a new pair of shoes or piece of clothing could be a catastrophe for people on low wages so most bought larger things on the ‘never-never’ or through mail order clothing firms where an agent came around every week to collect their weekly subscription. Families also paid a few shillings a week into local savings and Christmas Clubs to cover birthday and Christmas expenses.

Clothing was very basic, both cheap and hard wearing. Usually, children had two of everything for wearing on a daily basis; only one to wear and one in the wash, plus a third set of better-quality clothes kept only for ‘best’. Clothes were mended and patched until they simply wore out and were often passed down to younger children in the family when outgrown or passed on to neighbours for their children. Mothers usually wore a pinafore, a scarf around their hair and a shapeless skirt and blouse. Very few wore any make-up, except maybe some lipstick on a special occasion, and going to a hairdresser was unknown. Compared with married women of all ages today they looked and dressed old before their time, slipping into shapeless obscurity in their late twenties or early thirties.

The fathers who were employed by the British Rail works often wore striped collarless shirts, dark blue or black serge waist coats and trousers held up by a wide leather belt and sometimes braces as well, boots and a flat cap. This, or something similar, would have been the standard dress whether in the house, on the allotment or around the town. I have half a memory that some of them, maybe the older shop foremen, also wore bowler hats to signal their higher status.

They usually rode big, upright bikes with totally enclosed chain guards and a small saddle bag, while wearing a long dark mackintosh or coat with an ex-army khaki bag slung over one shoulder containing their flask and sandwich for the morning break. The very loud railway factory steam hooter would sound at 7.30 at which time a flood of black-clad men on bikes or on foot from the buses would be pouring in the entrance gates to the railway workshops. The hooter would sound again at 12noon, the gates would swing open, and another flood of men on bikes would surge out on their way home for lunch, pouring back in as the one o’clock hooter sounded and out again at the end of the day to the sound of the five o’clock hooter. Woe betide any vehicle or cyclist passing the gate when the men were leaving, they did not stop for anyone!

As children we amused ourselves with whatever was to hand. Most of us did paper rounds or other part time or weekend jobs to earn some pocket money. There were youth clubs to go to for darts, table tennis and billiards, the local cinema with fish and chips afterwards. (Six penn’orth of piping hot chips and a shilling piece of fish, with plenty of salt and vinegar, all wrapped in newspaper (1shilling and 6 pence = 71/2 p today) – magic!

We cycled, walked, scrumped apples, swam at the local open air swimming pool, went to youth clubs, hung around the cafes in Eastleigh listening to the juke boxes on a Saturday afternoon or, in conjunction with the girls from the local girl’s school, had record ‘hops’ on Friday evenings in the scout hut in Chamberlayne Road. Looking at the photograph of Leigh Road, Eastleigh taken in 1956, which was the year I came to live at Bishopstoke and started in the 3rd form at Toynbee Road Boys School, it seems like a scene from another planet: few pedestrians, fewer vehicles, and Victorian buildings, the one on the right the long-demolished Railway Institute, but it was actually like that.

There were no faxes, computers, emails, internet, computer games, mobile phones, texting, CD’s, DVD’s, telephones and colour TVs in every room, microwave ovens, designer kitchens and bathrooms, fitted carpets, double glazing, gas central heating, out of town shopping centres, supermarkets, or foreign holidays, but we all survived and many of us thrived.

Appendix D: Class Reunion 2009

(Class of 1959- Saturday, 25th July 2009.)

In March 2008 I pulled a faded black and white photograph from a box and looked at ten faces of people that I had last seen over 45 years ago and whose names I could barely remember. Written on the back, in my handwriting, were those names and a place and date: Horse guards Parade, London; April 1959. Immediately the memories flooded back, and I was back at Toynbee Road Boys’ Secondary Day School, Toynbee Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire. The group were my fellow classmates of form 5G; taken just before we sat out GCE ‘0’ level exams in 1959, on a day trip to London. My memory even told me the photo had been taken by a young teacher, Mr ‘Sherlock’ Holmes. Studying the young faces, I wondered what had become of them all and then realised that next year, July 2009, would be the 50th Anniversary of us all leaving school. I could have put the photo back in the box, but I didn’t, and I decided to do something about it.

My year was only the second year to take GCE exams at Toynbee and as a group we had all got on very well both in school and outside but, once we left school, we all soon got jobs, scattered to the four winds and lost touch. I had left Eastleigh in 1965 and had been back there infrequently. Unlike today, communications in the 1950’s were very poor, and it was very difficult to keep in touch with anybody once they had moved away from the place where you saw them daily.

The only person I had kept in touch with over the years was Bob Fowler, who was in the year below me. He, like my classmate John Collins and me, had been a keen cyclist, and had retired and was living just outside Winchester. I talked to him saying that I was aiming to trace all my classmates and, if successful, try to organise a 50th reunion. With his help, using local telephone directory and internet, by August last year I had located Mike Derrick and Jan Kosnioski, both still living in the Eastleigh area. Soon we had located Brian May and Michael Jenney, who also still lived in the area and after Jan got the class picture published in the local evening paper, the Echo, contact was made with others. Hugh Bulpitt in Somerset, John Brown in Oxfordshire, David Rooke in Yorkshire, Michael Vince in Kent, and Adrian Ward in Warwickshire. In one case an aunt had told her nephew of the photo in the paper.

I was sad to find that two of our classmates, John Collins and Phil Brown, had both died, but this left only Gordon Brodie to find. I had last met him briefly in 1970 when he told me he was a mechanical engineer and had immigrated to Johannesburg in South Africa. So far as anyone knew he is still there but despite trying many ways to trace him it was not possible.

Meanwhile I had learnt that our class teacher, Ian “Maxi” Millen had, with his wife Faith and their three children, gone to live in Australia in the early 1970’s, so I decided to see if I could trace him as well. After many false starts and leads that led nowhere, I found he was living somewhere in Tasmania. My mother-in-law, Kathleen Cuthbert, has dear family friends living there and they, by the time-consuming method of telephoning everyone in the Tasmania telephone book with the name Millen, finally located him. He is 79 and he and his wife are retired and living in George Town, Tasmania. Contact was soon established, and I learned he had worked as a teacher until his mid-50s when he had had to retire through ill health, but subsequently he worked until he was 71 as a coach driver, taking school parties and tourist trips all over Tasmania.

Jan Kosnioski established that the actual date we had left school was on Friday, 24th July 1959 so it was agreed by everyone that a reunion should be held at Eastleigh on Saturday, 25th July 2009. It was also established that Toynbee School, now renamed The Crescent, and used as a primary school, would be delighted to open on the Saturday for this celebration. It was agreed that we would meet outside the old Town Hall at 2 o’clock, walk the 200 yards to Toynbee Road, and visit the school for about an hour then go on to the King Rufus public house in Chandlers Ford for a buffet lunch. Jan also confirmed that the Echo wanted to do a follow up story on the reunion and would be sending a reporter and photographer to the pub.

On the day the whole plan came together perfectly. Christine and I set off from home at half past eight on a lovely sunny summer morning for the 85 mile, 2 ½ hour drive to Eastleigh. I wanted to get there early to walk around the town to see what changes had taken place in the previous 50 years and to take a few photos before we met the others.

At 2 o’clock we had all assembled outside the old Town Hall, worked out who was who and introduced our wives. Within a few minutes the conversation was flowing, with anecdotes, memories and laughs traded before we set off for our school visit. It was remarkable how the years fell away, and we almost carried on conversations from when we had last spoken 50 years ago.

Brian May and Jan Kosnioski Brian May, Roger Burlinson,

and David Rooke

At the school we were met by the caretaker, also an old boy of the school and who had left in 1964. He had gone to the trouble of looking out the original drawings of the plans and elevations of the school when it was built in 1929. In 1927-28 the schools of Eastleigh were reorganised, and the new Toynbee School was opened at 9 o’clock on 2nd September 1929 as Eastleigh’s Senior Boys School with 262 boys aged 11 to 14, a Mr W Lawson Mackay as the interim headmaster, and 6 teachers. At that time Toynbee School was housed in the Victorian school building that had been previously called the Derby Road School and which, much later, was renamed Barton Peveril Grammar School. Toynbee school quickly became popular and within a few weeks another classroom was added and the number of pupils increased to 279. By 1st April 1930 there were 336 pupils with all the class sizes over 40 with Class 4 having 78. The school was also used for evening classes for adults and in 1930 Mr R Page was appointed as permanent Head Teacher, remaining in post until his retirement in 1949.

On 4th January 1932 Toynbee School had transferred to a new purpose-built school in Toynbee Road, facing the police station. Toynbee Road was named after Arnold Toynbee, the mid-Victorian Economic and Social Historian who is said to have coined the phrase ‘the industrial revolution’.

The school has an H shaped plan, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling to the assembly hall located along the crossbar of the H, which also housed the boiler room and toilets – which only had cold water taps. One southern wing of the H plan housed 9 classrooms and in the northern wing were the science laboratory and the wood and metal handicraft rooms. By 1939 the laboratory had become the art room, the metal handicraft room was used for technical drawing and both the lab and metal handicraft room had been relocated into temporary buildings on the far side of the rear playground.

In 1932 there was a headmaster, twelve assistant teachers and 396 boys in ten classes, with a small class for ‘retarded’ boys, and with hardly any boys completing the 4th year. On the night of 21st June 1942, the Art Room was destroyed by a bomb during an air raid and in 1944 the headmaster recorded that they had started serving school meals at lunchtime. In September 1945 Squadron Leader Vine (who had the nickname ‘Legger’ in 1958) returned to the school as an assistant teacher and in November Captain A Carter returned. In 1957 Mr Carter was the form master for 3A.

Mr S D Bowler was appointed headmaster in 1950 but left in 1955 when his deputy, Mr Holloway became the acting head teacher, followed by Mr C Hartnup who was headmaster from 1955 until his retirement in 1971.

By 1956 Toynbee had grown to a 4-stream school throughout, with 16 classes and 449 pupils. At last, in 1957 four hot taps were installed in the toilets and the school continued to grow and two more classrooms were added in 1958. In that same year a group of boys in a new class called 5G, under the leadership of their form and maths teacher Ian ‘Maxi’ Millen, sat for the first GCE ‘0’ level exams ever taken at the school. At that time there were 556 pupils and by 1960 the numbers had risen again to 593 with 23 staff. On 28th July 1964 Toynbee Boy’s School came to an end when it was amalgamated with the nearby Chamberlayne Road Girls School and became co-educational, with classes spread between the two existing schools and pupils shuttling between the two buildings at the end of each lesson.

We all spent a happy hour wandering around the very much upgraded building, admiring the carpets on the floor, the modern lighting, and the colourful décor. I particularly wanted to see the woodwork room where, under the patient guidance of Mr Hamlin, woodwork, and technical drawing master, I learnt the valuable lessons of how to handle, use, care for and sharpen a whole range of tools and how to design and make things in wood. I still have the oak record cabinet with glass doors, made as my Project in 1959 – the first of many pieces of furniture and fittings I designed during my working life as an architect in the subsequent 50 years.

Toynbee was the best school I ever attended and the three years I spent there were the happiest of my school days. I believe that at the school we were fortunate to have an exceptionally able group of teachers who were approachable and who encouraged us to do our best. I was, and still am, hopeless at mathematics and there were several times when I was in a complete muddle about homework, but my maths teacher, Ian Millen, would invite me to his house in the evening when he would patiently (for him that is, as he had a notoriously short temper) take me through the work again and again. Thanks to him I passed the GCE level maths exam, albeit scraping through with the lowest pass mark possible! From that school I learnt the value of education and the ethic of hard work and importance of self-motivation, which developed into the belief that if I worked harder, longer and more consistently than other people I would eventually succeed in whatever I was trying to do.

Every day the prefects took it in turns to be on ‘lates’ at the school entrance gates at 9 and after the dinner break to record in a book the names of all those who were late arriving. If a person’s name appeared in that book too many times in one week the culprit would be called into the headmaster’s office to explain. In addition, just inside the main door on the left was a school desk where a prefect was stationed during lesson times. Each prefect was there for two periods, during which time he worked on his own studies. It was his job to meet any visitors and show them into the school secretary’s office, enter in a book the names of any pupil sent out of class for misbehaving and, most importantly, to walk around the school ringing a small brass hand bell signalling the end of a period and the time for classes to change.

Once when I was on duty from 9.00am I got so absorbed in what I was doing that I forgot the time and suddenly realised it was only 10 minutes to break time and I had totally missed ringing the bell at the end of the first period and none of the classes had changed over. I frantically ran around the school ringing the bell and had to do it again 10 minutes later. No one had come out to find out why the bell had not rung and afterwards none of the masters mentioned it to me, but I was unmercifully ragged by my own classmates.

At morning assembly, the headmaster periodically delegated the job of reading the lesson to each of the senior boys in turn. One morning the time came to read the lesson, and nothing happened. There was a long silence with rustling and heads, including mine, turned this way and that wondering what was going on. Then the headmaster finally stepped up and read the lesson. Afterwards I was called into his study to explain why I had not read the lesson. To this day I cannot explain it. Thinking about it later I did remember that several days before I had practiced reading the bible passage I had been given, but on the actual day I had completely blanked it from my mind and had no idea it was me that they were all waiting for.

Toynbee was primarily a working-class school for the sons of manual workers, blue collar workers or low-level white-collar workers. The major employers in Eastleigh were the railway, Pirelli’s cable works, Caustons the printers, the Ford Motor works and Price’s bread factory. Most of the families I came across had lived in Eastleigh for two or three generations, with only relatively few being newcomers. Many sons tended to follow their father and even grandfather into the same trade or line of business and most of them usually ended up marrying local girls and living in the same area. In the late 1950’s one boy from Edward Avenue, Bishopstoke, who was a few older than me, did something unexpected. He went away for his two years of National Service and was posted abroad to somewhere in the Pacific, possibly Easter Island. He met and married a local girl and returned with (to our eyes) an exotic wife with dusky complexion, long shiny black hair down to her waist and who wore sarong-style clothes in summer. She was radically different from the usual crop of local factory and shop girls and was the cause of much talk and comment for a long time between the middle-aged, shopping bag carrying dumpy mums in pinafore dresses, shapeless overcoats and hair in rollers stuffed into headscarves. In the 1990’s I was visiting my elderly and ailing mother in the Mount Hospital at Bishopstoke, and she introduced me to one of the cleaners that she said I would know. It was the wife of the chap from Edward Avenue and time had transformed into a dumpy middle-aged lady indistinguishable from the local mums, even to having her hair in curlers under a scarf. Somehow, I felt very disappointed.

There was very little social mobility in the late 1950’s but this changed radically from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s. Boys and girls, I knew from working class homes left school as soon as they could, or at 16 after taking ‘O’ levels. ‘A’ levels at Grammar Schools were mostly for the children of white-collar workers, with a few secondary school pupils allowed in to show it was not totally elitist. At that time, I knew of no one who had gone on to further education – most school leavers just got a job to earn money or, if they were lucky, an apprenticeship, perhaps where their father already worked. Less than 10% of school leavers went on to further education or university and less than 10% of that 10% went on to do either a second or a master’s degree. Before the days of cheap air travel holidays abroad were still the preserve of the wealthy. Most working-class people spent their holidays at home or, if they did have a summer holiday away, went for a week in a caravan by the sea or to a holiday camp or went camping or took day trips by train.

At our reunion I looked at my classmates around me and I realised what a social revolution had taken place since the 1960’s. More than half of us live in other parts of England and many of us have had careers vastly different to that of our parents. We have been senior lecturers, paramedics, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, architects, or have run our own businesses. Several of us had been to university or polytechnic and had gained degrees and qualifications. In my own case I was the first member of my family ever to go on to any sort of further education, first at a polytechnic to get a professional qualification and then on to a university to get a master’s degree. Many of us have worked abroad, have travelled to many countries and we could now be accurately described as middle class. It is unfortunate that in the last two decades social mobility has become increasingly difficult with a return to the situation where who you know is more important than what you know.

We thanked the caretaker for giving up his time on a Saturday, gave him two bottles of wine, and drove the two miles to the King Rufus in Chandlers Ford (In 1959 it was called ‘The Mount’) for the buffet (late) lunch. The reporter from the daily Echo was there and our photo was taken in the car park in the same line up and using the same individual gestures as in the 1959 photo. He spent some time asking us all about where we came from, what we did and various things about individual lives.

The staff of the Rufus had allocated us a pleasant wood panelled room just off the main bar/ entrance area that had its own glass double doors directly onto a sunny terrace outside. The buffet they had provided was one of the best ones I have had for a very long time and so generous that if it had been only half the amount I still doubt if we could have finished it.

When everyone had a drink in their hands, I made a short welcoming speech then read out the message to us all sent by Ian and Faith Millen and finished by proposing a toast to the memory of our two deceased classmates, John Collins, and Phil Brown, before handing over Mike Derrick, who was the head prefect in 1959.

Mike ran through the careers of those present and made many complimentary remarks about Ian Millen and the staff of Toynbee in 1959 before proposing a toast to absent friends: our teacher Ian and his wife Faith Mille, who live in Tasmania, Australia, Mike Jenney, and Adrian Ward, all of whom were unable to join us. We then all settled down to some serious eating, talking, and catching up with each other’s lives. A good time was had by all and all too soon it was 6pm and Christine and I had to leave to drive back the 85 miles to Bristol, while Michael and Patience Vince set off to drive back the 180 miles to their home in Whitstable, Kent as he was taking part in a 9-mile charity walk the next day. It was an unforgettable day and really good to meet old friends again and to find we still got on so well and even laughed at the same jokes.

Abridged copy for Bishopstoke History Society – December 2023

Beyond Bishopstoke

Wider Horizons

1960 to 1970

Cliff King aged 25