Banking & finance

Wontner, Hugh (1 of 11) National Life Stories: City Lives

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  • Recording date

    1990-16-03, 1990-20-04, 1990-18-05, 1990-27-06

  • Is part of (Collection)

    City Lives

  • Recording locations

    Claridge's Hotel, London, W1

  • Interviewees

    Wontner, Hugh, 1908- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Phillips, David (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 (tape 1 side A): Sir Hugh was born in Bedford Park, Chiswick, West London on 22nd October 1908, a Libran. Parents were both actors, who met touring in Australia, where they married. Grandfather a respectable accountant who brought up sons to be professionals but Sir Hugh's father rebelled to go on the stage. His father cut him off and didn't speak to him for many years. Sir Hugh's father kept precise records of all household expenditure, put POM (poor old man) if any discrepancies; but mother the real business person. Recalls seeing Zeppelin shot down at Cuffley during WWI from second home at Ealing. No recall of Bedford Park. Father kindly but let Sir Hugh go his own way and decide how to live his life. Mother would not talk about her background but it was discovered that her father was actually her grandfather. He was a wealthy wheelwright who owned property but went to pieces when his wife died. He died leaving only £5, which prompted Sir Hugh's mother to go on the stage to earn a living. Elder sister went to RADA then the Wrens. Alive and living in Chelsea. Younger brother now dead. A.A.Milne recommended Oundle as school for Hugh, where he went in spite of poor entrance exam result. School placed emphasis on discovering any form of talent in pupils as basis of confidence building.

  • Description

    Interview with Sir Hugh Wontner, hotelier and politician, who was managing director of the Savoy hotel group (1941-1979), chairman of the Savoy Theatre (1948-1992) and Lord Mayor of London (1973-74).

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