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Transcript TitleAnderson, Dr Dorothy (O2008.1)
IntervieweeDr Dorothy Anderson (DA)
InterviewerEve Sangster (ES)
Transcriber byJean Riddell (Purkis)


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O2008.1

Interviewee: Dr Dorothy Anderson (DA)

Date: 28th March 2008

Venue: Highfield Court, Hertford

Interviewer: Eve Sangster (ES)

Transcriber: Jean Riddell (Purkis)

Typed by: Corin Jones

************** unclear recording

[discussion] untranscribed material

italics editor’s notes

ES: Dorothy, where were you born?

DA: In London, not actually where I lived in Soho, but out in Mill Hill – in a nursing home. The family were living in central London – Soho – 40 Great Windmill St.

ES: That of course sounds incredibly racy. Just out of interest how near was it to the Windmill Theatre?

DA: Exactly opposite the Windmill Theatre.

ES: Were you there during the hey-day of the theatre which I take to be the war?

DA: No, I probably missed the real hey-day. I was evacuated from 1939 and I didn’t come back and I think it was closed down at virtually the same time as I came back from evacuation, for moral reasons and they show that well in the film Mrs Henderson Presents – I think they thought that roads were dangerous because the troops just filled up the streets waiting for the next performance.

ES: What used they to show there before they did those nude shows?

DA: I think it was run-down but I honestly don’t remember.

ES: However, it was quite a glamorous address.

DA: It looked, as it still does, into the dressing rooms of the Lyric Theatre that’s still there.

ES: That sounds like a nice pastime for fathers. Anyway, you weren’t an only child but Ted was…

DA: Four years older, yes.

ES: What did your father do?

DA: We had what used to be called an oil and colour shop, which is like Botsford’s is [was.. Parliament Square] today in Hertford.

ES: It always sounds like an artist’s shop.

DA: Yes, it’s a strange description.

ES: Did he own that?

DA: No. he leased it, his father had run it before him.

ES: What was it called?

DA: E Hardman & Son.

ES: So, did you know your grandfather? (No). What about your grandmother?

DA: No, she died.

ES: What about the other grandparents?

DA: My maternal grandmother had died and I just about remember seeing my maternal grandfather a couple of times and going to his funeral. I was about six.

ES: Where did they live?

DA: I’m not sure, near Regents Park. He had worked with horses for the old taxicabs.

ES: It is interesting that it’s so London-based. I wonder how long your father’s family had been in London.

DA: I think probably they had come well before the First World War. Father was in the navy.

ES: I wonder where they came from.

DA: Mother from the Ledbury area. I just don’t know. I’ve never really been interested and I should have been.

ES: OK. So what’s your first memory of your home?

DA: Oh yes, I can remember. It was a time when the shop – at Christmas you gave boxes of chocolates to your clients and the housekeepers at the theatres. Then the bedroom right at the top, which was my brother’s, where the tin bath was brought out once a week and the tiny little kitchen on the landing. How my mother ever brought us up and coped with cooking…

ES: Was that just across a corner of the landing (Yes) – this is so strange – do you know Don Geall? (Yes) His parents came to Hertford in the 1920s and wanted to open a café which they did, on Bull Plain, and it was exactly the same, and they ran this café with the kitchen on a little landing. But you were saying about the housekeepers of the neighbouring theatres, did the scene painters actually come to your shop for paints and things?

DA: Oh I think so in its early days. We did a lot of paints but also a lot of cleaning materials.

ES: What’s your first memory of realising it was a shop and not like an ordinary home?

DA: I didn’t think you did, really. Well, you knew you were different because you had aunts and uncles and cousins who were in houses, so there was no question of gardens. There was St James’s Park on Thursday afternoons because it was half-day and saw the pelicans, still there, and the wonderful swing boats which someone’s banished because they were dangerous. And Trafalgar Square and walking round London. I can remember the school, the other side, it’s just up the same street, same side as the Windmill Theatre and St James and St Peter’s and the iron gates, just walked over to school.

ES: St James and St Peter’s – that was your primary school?

DA: Yes. And now it’s just been re-named the Soho Junior School, or whatever. I did go up recently, took some grandchildren up.

ES: Did you take any photos?

DA: No. Now that’s my next … I could have done and I want to. Anne-Marie Parker – her parents had a chandlers in St Martin’s Lane and we said we’d go with a camera…

ES: I did an interview with him, Anne-Marie’s father, and he was so interesting I thought I ought to ask Dorothy. Do you remember how busy that street was?

DA: Oh yes.

ES: We ought to say when you were born.

DA: 1929.

ES: So your memories we’re talking about now are in the ‘30s. What was the sort of traffic – presumably it wasn’t horse-drawn?

DA: No, no, no but my poor mother had chronic insomnia and Ham Yard was the place where all the cars were parked after they’d dropped everybody off at theatres and that was at our back windows.

ES: How did your mother manage with washing? Was all that dried within the house?

DA: I think it was all dried in the house and I can’t remember whether she did this, but my father’s parents – they used to take their joints down to the bakery to be cooked on weekends for the roast.

ES: No, but when we start to think about this kitchen on a half-landing… but perhaps you had quite a bit of ready-made food. Because nowadays Soho is a mass of eateries, isn’t it?

DA: Well the dairy was next door… Oh no, it was further up the street, and there was a Maypole [grocers] – a chain like Home & Colonial and I have a memory, I’d be nine by then, they used to have a fair in Soho Sq. and that must have been ’38 or’39 and the introduction of a Mouli Grater and I had to keep going down and buying cheese to demonstrate this Mouli Grater.

ES: It’s funny that Mouli Grater – it hasn’t changed at all, has it. They got it right first time.

[showing of photographs]. What is your mother’s name?

DA: Ivy.

ES: Where was it –

DA: Soho Sq this was an annual thing these are quite fun, in Trafalgar Sq.

ES: It’s an amazingly urban childhood. It reminds me a bit of a poem about being a Londoner written by Jan Struther, who wrote Mrs Minever – she, I think, emigrated to Canada and she writes this talking about her childhood and her education “100 yards was the length of the square garden; an hour was Big Ben’s chime to Big Ben’s chime. Its seasons were my seasons for me.” but really saying how what an education London was.

DA: And there was another magical spot, at the bottom of Trafalgar Square was the P&O and they had a model of one of their liners in the window and I used to go and look at this and it’s shown in the beginning of the film Passage to India – the girl looking in at this before she books her passage.

ES: I should just say, we’re looking at a photo of a six-year-old child which is Dorothy wearing… although she’s in Trafalgar Sq.uare at the bottom of the steps… wearing a very endearing little pull-on hat just like Christopher Robin in those illustrations. And I was thinking of Christopher Robin – he’s a very urban child – “whenever I walk in a London street I’m ever so careful to watch my feet” and they go to Buckingham Palace. Anyway, Dorothy is wearing the same hat!

DA: This is the Mall [probably not Trafalgar Square] this going along towards the palace. [Pause]

ES: When did you first go to school?

DA: I was three.

ES: That was quite early.

DA: Early, but they took nearby children.

ES: Where did Ted go?

ES: He went to the same school and then to Archbishop Tennyson’s Grammar School and he was there when they were evacuated, near to Reading. And then our evacuation was so disastrous at Cambridge that their Headmaster said he would take some younger sisters and I went there ‘til I went to my school which was Lady Margaret which was evacuated to Midhurst in Sussex.

ES: So you went to this – was it a primary school St James and St Peter.

DA: They didn’t call them primary schools – what did they call them. [Elementary]

ES: Was it a C of E school (Yes) and were your parents’ churchgoers?

DA: My father was. Mother never was. Brother sang in the choir.

ES: Do you have any memories of your early days at that school?

DA: Yes I have. I remember hemming dusters. Between every lesson you were made to stand up and jump around a bit, do you remember that?

ES: No, we didn’t do any jumping.

DA: Skipping and swapping cigarette card, that was a great pastime. I learned to read very early.

ES: Did you make friends with local children? (Yes) So who were they and what did their parents do – were they shop-keepers?

DA: I don’t remember what their parents [did]. Of course this was all chopped off, aged 10, by the war. We lost all contact and they weren’t there when we came back.

ES: I remember when I was 10, halfway through the final primary school year, an epidemic of infantile paralysis. The school closed and that was it. We never went back.

DA: The school was evacuated to Cambridge. We were in Piccadilly Circus Tube Station about eight in the morning and I think we got to Cambridge about 5 o’clock at night. The train was shunted into different sidings and I think people came who hadn’t really wanted children. We moved four times, four different billets and this is why the headmaster of my brother’s school and I was so lucky the year I had in Reading, lovely people and then when I went to [Midhurst] – I don’t know how my parents chose this school, they did scholarships because there were no secondary schools in London. [this was before the Education Act of 1947 and elementary schools were the norm – five to fourteen years. Grammar Schools would take children from 10 or 11 by scholarship or fees]

ES: But just going back to you being evacuated – did you have a bad experience then?

DA: Odd things. I remember having to sit in the outside lavatory for an hour until somebody came home. The first one we didn’t get any food at all, I think we’d been given a bar of chocolate or something. I remember the big green at Cambridge, and I think we must have done some schooling.

ES: But how long did that last then?

DA: About six weeks and then I moved down to Reading.

ES: But it’s slightly odd for you to move from your primary school to secondary school while you weren’t there.

DA: It was like a melting pot and they’d had all these incredible stories about evacuation.

ES: You don’t quite know the extent people were obliged to house evacuees.

DA: I think they were very pressured.

ES: So then you went to Lady Margaret School.

DA: At Midhurst we shared the Midhurst Grammar School. Proper lessons, one week in the morning then you went up to the old priory. And I had a wonderful family there and I still keep in touch with the child who was two when I was ten! And we still see each other now her parents have died.

ES: And when did the Lady Margaret School come back to Parsons Green.

DA: We had a bomb in Midhurst and the Headmistress said “enough’s enough, the girls aren’t getting a good education” and she brought us back.

ES: But how did your parents get on in the centre of London during the blitz.

DA: Terrible time, they kept the shop open. They slept in the cellar, my mother said she didn’t take her coat off for six months and my father was scarred – he was an air raid warden. He was deeply affected, he was the first to go in when the bomb went through the Café de Paris, they were all living it up – the casualties – it was horrendous. Then by the time I came back they’d rented a house from an uncle in Osterley so they weren’t living at the shop anymore.

ES: But still running it.

DA: Oh, yes. Mother carried on running it until after father died, quite a long time. He died in 1955. By then we’d moved to Mill Hill.

ES: So did you do very well at school? I assume you were quite gifted academically [otherwise] it would never have been suggested that you be a doctor.

DA: I wanted to be a doctor from about the age of ten and I’m not sure why, because there was nothing in the family. When you’re in a very small school you don’t have to be very clever to be the best.

ES: But if you’re in a small school and you are good they are going to nurture you. I remember when Emma was in the Upper Fifth at St Albans Grammar School, I think we went to a parents’ evening. The Headmistress didn’t even know her name. It’s true she wasn’t interested in people who were going to be artists. So you wanted to be a doctor – were you encouraged?

DA: I was by my father. All we had at this school was a botany mistress so when I appeared she was incredible, she imported a zoology graduate who was doing her teaching training, she sent me to a neighbouring girls’ school for chemistry and I had to go to the polytechnic for physics.

ES: So they took your ambitions very seriously.

DA: Oh, yes and then medical schools were still offering first MB years.

ES: MB – that’s a medical qualification – so is that like a foundation course?

DA: Yes, you would do chemistry and biology again. And she made me go on with English – she didn’t know anything about medicine, or the sciences.

ES: So you took A-levels.

DA: Higher Schools and then straight to the Royal Free Hospital.

ES: Was it difficult to get there?

DA: I think it was. And at that stage they really were looking, and this sounds arrogant, for the person, not the brain. It was a very happy place.

ES: So which of the friends, that I know you had, did you meet there. I know you met Sheila.

DA: She was the only one. So the first year you really didn’t have to work terribly hard because you’d covered a certain amount of the ground.

ES: And were you resident there?

DA: I carried on living at Osterley. We were completely female; when the others started taking in women, like Barts, we started taking in chaps, and the first two came into our year – a Polish chap who disappeared after the first year and another was a drop-out from Cambridge so we didn’t have the rags in quite the same way.

ES: A niece of mine trained to be a nurse that is a similar bawdy profession (?)

DA: I don’t think we were bawdy. I think we had some very bawdy mnemonics with our anatomy.

ES: So I’m not entirely wrong. So how long was your training?

DA: Six years and at that stage it was just one year called pre-registration, and you had to do two house jobs.

ES: And you were in your early twenties - what about your social life?

DA: Pretty good.

ES: But did any of it stem from the hospital?

DA: No, it wasn’t, most of my social life later on, I sang with a big London choir, Goldsmiths, during all my years as a medical student and that was fantastic.

ES: How did that begin? You’d always been musical.

DA: It was the music mistress at my school – you can sing, join one of the choirs while you are at medical school.

ES: Goldsmiths – isn’t that S.E [London].

DA: No it’s one in central London now but I think that had been its base – perhaps of the chap who started it. I looked up the website and I found a couple of inaccuracies and I thought I would write in. Then I was vice president of the University of London Union for a year and we went all round the country to the different universities and Sheila was the National Union of Students rep, so between us…

ES: So are you saying you are quite a political person?

DA: No, I think it just boiled down to who offered to do these things.

ES: So what was the role then, of the student’s union?

DA: The NUS was political, certainly but the University of London Union, I don’t think we did very much. No, my greatest fun was the music.

ES: And what did that entail, obviously rehearsals and how many nights a week.

DA: We had a rehearsal one night a week.

ES: Then what about the concerts.

DA: They were mostly Albert Hall, then Festival Hall.

ES: So really very high-grade music. You haven’t got any recordings. Not in my time.

DA: So it was exciting, it was certainly not a dull life. I probably didn’t feel the evacuation as much as children who’d had a proper home you know, I was used to reading myself to sleep, the shop didn’t close until 8 o’clock, so I’m probably not hurt by it.

ES: Well, it was an unconventional childhood. Anne Marie’s father spoke about being sent as a very small boy on errands to Seven Dials.

DA: Well we had to take orders to the Cambridge theatre and my brother didn’t want to go so I used to go. Another memory is being taken by a boy friend to the Olympics post-war at the White City and I had no idea what a miraculous happening that was.

ES: I know, but I’m amazed again that we held them here in 1948. So, 1948, you would have been 19. Do you remember what you wore?

DA: No! And I often wonder where I was when people were doing Rock ‘n Roll – that did pass me by.

ES: OK so I was born in 1935. I used to go up to London with various boyfriends and went to Cy Lawrie’s in Great Windmill Street, a club – we went into a smoky basement and we used to go to Humphrey Lyttleton’s at 100 Oxford Street but you weren’t doing any of this?

DA: No. What age have we got to now?

ES: Well, I’m talking about the ‘50s.

DA: Well, I was busy – I got married at 21 and straight off to Germany.

ES: How did your life cross with Tony’s? Had you got your first job by then?

DA: No, I was still a medical student. Tony came as a patient and they always got the new patients to come at one o’clock and you took a history and weighed and measured them. This particular consultant never even started his clinic at two o’clock – he used to come at half past two, to see his old patients so the new patients would be sitting there ‘til four o’clock and I would run round trying to find something for them to read.

ES: What had he gone in for?

DA: I think he’d been serving in the army in Persia and wasn’t particularly well. I think it might have been a jaundice problem. I’ve not got an inquiring mind but I get very angry with myself that I didn’t get people to talk.

ES: So what did you think when you first saw him?

DA: Oh, he was very handsome and when he came back the next week he asked me out, to the opera.

ES: You obviously had come conversation while he was waiting (Yes) – so it worked out well.

DA: It did!

ES: And where did he live – oh, stationed at Didcot. [Overtalking, it seems that Tony’s father was a retired soldier who eventually worked for Stevenage Development Corporation and was a civil engineer]. So where did the family come from?

DA: His father came from a family of schoolteachers – a headmaster I think in a school in Clapham, his mother was from Didcot, and they’d been army – they’d been everywhere.

ES: How long did it take for him to propose?

DA: Well, he went off to the canal zone.

ES: What Suez?

DA: And that was quite an interesting [time] and our lives were patterned (?) we’d arranged to marry and I was going to go back to the canal zone with him when Anthony Eden – we had all the problems, Tony said I’ll come home and marry you but you’re not to come back, we’re toting up and coming home. I was just able to get another three months house job which meant that when he died I’d done that registration year which, if I’d gone back to Suez-Egypt I’d have been three months short. So then I was able to pretend I was a proper doctor and start work, in ’51.

ES: Did you have any trouble getting a job at the Royal Free?

DA: There was quite a bit of competition, I chose maternity at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson that was at Belsize Park, six months there, and I’d done six months surgery at Lambeth Hospital and a casualty chunk waiting for the obstetrics slot so it was a bit of everything.

ES: But did all this confirm you in your choice of career? [much overtalking]

DA: I never doubted I had the right job.

ES: So where was your first home with Tony?

DA: Where Charles was born, at Maidstone. Tony was a Royal Engineer, so we rented a house in East Malling. Then we went to Germany and we literally went on the autobahn first to Munster, Luneburg, I had my second child there, then Dusseldorf and then Bunde where my husband, who spoke Russian and was the Liaison Officer to the Russians in West Germany, SOXMIS, and the British who were in Berlin were BRIXMIS [operating behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany] and that was an extremely interesting time.

ES: So, what year are you now talking about? You’ve had two children.

DA: I’d had three by then, I had Hugh in Dusseldorf and …

ES: So what year was that?

DA: Hugh was born in ’59, so probably ’59 to ’60. [the forces saw to all the passports]

Showing a photo:

DA: That was one of the parties the Russians used to give and they are all our officers [who came]

ES: Is that you – it’s beautiful – you look very vivacious. Are some of these chaps Russians? He looks Russian.

DA: Yes, he was the colonel there.

ES: But were you very conscious of the Cold War?

DA: Oh yes, we lived in houses and they were the other side of the fence. These houses were on an estate as we know it now, mostly it was a gunner regiment. We had two semi-detached houses, one was his office, and one the home. And the Russians had about a half dozen houses the other side, they had volley-ball pitch for the drivers and they just used to go and spy [legally observe] on the NATO exercises and their drivers were always locked in the cars. We’d have a dinner party and we’d ask six and four would turn up, sorry, the other two had been held up. And they weren’t held up at all because you’d see them.

ES: What were they doing?

DA: It was just tactics – trying to put you at a disadvantage.

ES: You did socialise with them.

DA: Oh, yes and they had a cinema.

ES: Tell me that thing you told me some months ago, was it a film you saw at Campus West and you said…

DA: The lady with the little dog? (Yes) I’d seen that in their compound in West Germany.

ES: But was the dialogue in Russian? (Yes). So how long did this last.

DA: We probably would have been there three years when Tony got motor neurone disease, we had to come home.

ES: Were you a doctor then?

DA: No, I hadn’t done any work since I married.

ES: So how old was Tony when he started to be unwell.

DA: Thirty-Four. It came on, he used to come back from playing squash, crosser and crosser because he couldn’t beat it. It was a real weakness in the beginning. It was diagnosed in the army hospital [He died in the military hospital near the Tate Gallery at Millbank], then they took them all down to Woolwich.

ES: Now they treat them in the ordinary hospitals don’t they. So, you came home and where did you live?

DA: They gave us a quarter in Chatham and when he died I was able to stay there a little while. And it started a group of people saying oh you must get a 9to5 job, go and be a woman doctor in whatever we called the Women’s Army in those days.

ES: I had thought of you as an army doctor.

DA: Then I rang the BMA to see what I would possibly earn and they said “we wondered if you’d be interested in this practice. We’ve had this advertisement and it’s been wrongly printed”, a practice that was growing by 80 a year instead of 800 a year and it proved to be a girl who’d been one year ahead of me in the same medical school and so, it was in Cheshunt, we worked three fifths of the time so alternate days we’d only be working in the morning and of course you’re on call.

ES: This was an enormous change for you. You came out of the shelter of the army and you had to buy a house and take a job, with your family.

DA: It was a nightmare!

ES: It was a nightmare, but I suppose you did what had to be done.

DA: Strange that you thought I was an army doctor.

ES: Of course I didn’t know Tony was an engineer I thought both of you were army doctors. It’s strange then that two boys went into the army.

DA: They haven’t got a vocation and I suppose they felt they’d like to do what their father had done. And the father of the boy who became a teacher, he’s going to Sandhurst this year (?)

ES: I think it was more of an option for young men especially if they were very slightly at a loose end – it gave then a breathing space. How old were the children when he died?

DA: Well the baby was 6/8 weeks and Charles wasn’t six.

ES: Oh well, no wonder you’re used to weathering a storm - couldn’t think of a worse set of circumstances, except you were healthy.

DA: But I was so lucky with mother, mother-in-law, and the people I got to look after Patricia, everybody tackled everything.

ES: I thought of Tony as 50 when he died.

DA: No, 36.

ES: And how old were you?

DA: 32.

ES: That’s a long while, isn’t it?

DA: A long while. It’s just a different life. I was at the swimming pool with the children watching them, and a chap came over to chat to me and pointed to the paddling pool and said which is your little one. I pointed to the top diving board! There were three, but four because my brother’s son used to be with us a lot – all up on the top diving board. He didn’t stay long!

[photos again]

ES: What have we here – Ted, is it?

DA: No, that’s my father, they found out, Meg Fewkes husband, they did that for me.

ES: Oh, I didn’t know you knew her, she was such a nice woman.

DA: I went to see her son once when he was ill and used to deliver Civic Society […] to her. So I mentioned that – she was saying they were doing a lot of work.

ES: [for the tape] I’m looking at some information about Dorothy’s father – what does FR stand for.

DA: Francis Reginald.

ES: He was serving on HMS Agamemnon in the First World War and this is information that Meg Fewkes has acquired.

DA: One of the stories that I do remember was that he said he had fallen overboard and I thought it was in the Black Sea. They did in fact find out that the ship was serving [in the Mediterranean area].

ES: Oh, that’s interesting, how often family legends prove right. Any your brother, Ted why and I thinking he went into the Navy?

DA: He was in the Navy from school.

ES: But I half thought he was in the Artists Rifles.

DA: Ah, as a Territorial.

ES: So what do we know about Ted?

DA: Well, Ted went in the Navy, “Wavy Navy” as it was called. [Royal Naval Reserve]

ES: Because he was a cadet?

DA: No, wasn’t it some kind of National Service? He was born in ’25, they still had to go and he remembers taking a fishing vessel in the sea around Ceylon, now Sir Lanka. So that would have been 1950. And it was a lovely recollection because we’d never had bicycles during evacuation and my father got us two bicycles costing £3 each and we got them down to Reading and I was covered in bruises. I did not take naturally to cycling. [But later she cycles from Osterley to Paddington].

When he came back he had sold it in Sri Lanka. Then he went to Oxford or something called the ‘Y scheme’ for people to go to university. He did a PGE degree and then went to Unilever, went out to Nigeria, and when he came back he joined the TA and he and his wife were parachuting on Wandsworth Flats.

ES: Did he marry a ballet dancer?

DA: That’s right.

ES: Well, just say a little bit.

DA: Well, she danced with the Wendy Toye Ballet on the Ivor Novello shows. She went out to Nigeria with him. [They divorced and the two children were separated, Ted had a bad accident then lived with his widowed mother who helped bring up the child].

ES: Do you ever see the children?

DA: No, they’ve gone to Toronto.

ES: Are they still in touch with him?

DA: Yes [pause].

This was the Soho iron mongers and hardware store in 1955. These were all the Soho shops. My mother, in her wisdom, she was the businesswoman. The lease of No. 30 became vacant which she took and started running the two shops and then a time bomb [hit?] 40 so we were able to carry on with 30.

ES: Just going back to this Soho childhood, was it then the red-light district of London, did you ever say to your mother “what’s that woman doing in fish-net tights standing in that doorway”?

DA: I think we sort of knew but our street wasn’t involved. You’d see them round by the Regent Palace Hotel and I often wonder if this is where my complete aversion to black stockings comes from. The chap who opened the strip club in Greek Street, Paul Raymond, I think that wasn’t opened until the early fifties.

ES: It did have a period when it was incredibly tawdry and still probably is now but was it like that?

DA: No.

ES: It was much more discreet?

DA: I remember chaps peering at the photographs outside the Windmill in fact I’m amazed that they allowed the foundation primary school to stay there.

ES: Yes and it must have been an incredibly valuable site. [pause]

DA: I do have a dilemma and I don’t know how sort it out. I have this recollection of No. 40, knowing that the shop was there and that you went in on the right-hand side. That’s my grandfather there. He must have moved from 38 to 40.

ES: We’re looking at pictures of the oil and colour merchants of Great Windmill Street and there is Dorothy’s grandfather – presumably you’ll write on the back of this.

DA: That’s my grandfather, my father’s father, my father, and his elder brother. I think they must have moved shop [this was because the shop door of her childhood was in a different place in the picture]. I did try and get in touch with the Westminster Estate but I never have sorted it out. You begin to wonder if your memory is right. [ES suggests the possibility of a Soho Local History Society which might be able to help]. Then we go back to Cheshunt.

DA: It patterned out, my husband had wanted my sons to go to a public school and I found good prep schools in Potters Bar for them. Lochinvar and Stormont. They were due to go to Brighton where the headmaster had been a housemaster of my husbands and he admired this man. But how would I get them to Brighton and still be back in time for surgery when I saw that Bill Stewart had been made master of Haileybury, two minutes up the road. This was the man that my husband thought so highly of, the headmaster of Brighton. So they started up at Haileybury.

ES: And where was Patricia going?

DA: Stormont and then she went down to the City of London, down at the Barbican. She travelled on her own and then I wasn’t very happy with the way that the practice was going. I suppose I was the only one that had to earn a living – by now we were four (doctors) and, again a chance thing, and the regional medical officer came to see me and said what about you being a regional medical officer.

And I got the job and I got the Eastern Division and I was able not to move house. The offices were at Stanmore but there was a lot of work going out to visit GPs over Essex. I didn’t really take to bureaucracy, working as a civil servant when I heard about this single-handed practice in Hertford by which time I decided I wasn’t keen about Patricia going up to London and so she boarded at Haileybury (6th form).

ES: What did you think when you first came to Hertford?

DA. I didn’t really know it at all and I was going to buy the house the doctor had left which was one of the big Georgian houses on North Rd, Dr Renata Shultz. Then the morning I was going to the interview the house agents rang up and said “oh no forget that, whoever was interested is buying it”, so I said I have no idea where I could practise from. Then the agents rang the next morning and said that 4 North Rd was on the market, which was much better. Room for children, mothers, and brothers.

ES: Just say about 4 North Rd. It is a lovely house and you can say a bit about the architect and its date.

DA: It was built in the grounds of North Rd House.

ES: Which is an 1810 building [1827]. We’re talking about a house which was called Paynter’s.

DA: This GP decided to buy and build a house on the kitchen garden.

ES: Burnett-Smith?

DA: Yes and the architect was Robert Atkinson.

ES: Yes, it’s a neo-Georgian style with Arts and Crafts overtones. The Medlock’s lived at 2 North Rd – are we saying that they then moved into No 4 then?

DA: Well I don’t know.

ES: Well it says that the Medlock’s lived in the Atkinson house or, I see, until they moved next door.

[about the practice]

DA: It was extremely rewarding. It probably wouldn’t be possible to do it now without more staff than I had, with the awful escalation of childhood injections, travel injections and the demands from people to be weighed and measured. But it certainly was good medicine and you knew your patients. You never needed a counsellor, the GP did all the counselling that was necessary, and kept an eye on the district. So when you were home visiting you may have spotted things like cannabis perhaps. Life has changed. People are struggling now. There was something which surprised me that Prince Charles said, I don’t know why he said it, but he didn’t think cul-de-sacs were a good idea. He didn’t think they were good for the community and I think they are ideal. Children can play, people keep an eye on each other.

ES: Right Dorothy if you wouldn’t mind filling these forms in and I can collect. This will be transcribed. Dorothy just showing me a copy of a brass memorial tablet to her husband, Major AG Anderson, which is installed in the Garrison Church at Chatham.

Recording ends