Layton, Peter (1 of 22) National Life Stories Collection: Crafts Lives

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Recording date

    2014-11-24, 2014-12-18, 2015-01-07, 2015-01-13, 2015-01-19, 2015-03-02, 2015-03-09, 2015-03-16, 2015-04-13

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s home in Worcester Park and studio in London

  • Interviewees

    Layton, Peter, 1937- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Cornford, Frances (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: [Session one: 24th November 2014] Full name Stephen Thomas Peter David Layton (PL); name Layton chosen by father; born Stephan Lole; parents refugees originally from Vienna; PL born in Prague; family left in 1939. PL born in 1937 and family lived in Prague; PL’s father working for a glass factory on sales side. Reasons for forenames; Peter an uncle; David PL’s Hebrew name as PL Jewish and added later. [04:25] Comments on father’s family; grandfather Oscar an engineer in Vienna and wife Olga; PL siblings and cousins meeting in Vienna recently to see installation of brass plaque to commemorate them as they disappeared in Holocaust. PL knowing mother’s parents well; grandfather Dr Viktor Hecht (VH) a contemporary of Freuds and ran a TB sanatorium in Semmering, Austria. VH escaping to England with help of freemasons; VH’s sons Peter and Hans as dying young of TB and suicide related to persecution. Grandmother a concert pianist. VH getting job as city pathologist in Bradford. VH warning PL’s parents and family escaped on last train out of Czechoslovakia; story about parents queueing for papers. [13:25] Life as refugees; PL remembering gloomy room in London and air raid warnings; parents spending time working as maid and butler in Godalming and then moved to Bradford. PL brought up in Bradford. Early memories of going to VH’s lab and lab animals in cages. Earliest memory of visiting house in London. [19:47] Mother’s mother called Rosa Hecht and a concert pianist; remarks on mother’s upbringing ; VH having mistress who was matron of sanatorium who also came to England and later married VH. Mother going to high school in Vienna and trained as a milliner; meeting PL’s father at college. Mother called Edith Alice Beatrix (EL); EL a character who talked to everyone; EL born in 1914. VH a doctor in First World War. [25:00] EL’s appearance; EL connected to Avon makeup in later years and always had lots of makeup. Family living with grandparents in Eccleshill, Bradford; PL’s memories of school; VH taking PL to concerts and PL fascinated by John Barberolli’s hair; remembering younger brother George (GL) being born when PL aged 5; PL’s father interned and then joined army as a medical orderly with pioneer corps; EL taking family to live in Marlborough while father completed basic training; memories of Marlborough and living on a farm; memories of swimming with father and US soldiers. [38:20] PL not aware of being treated differently at that age; PL as member of Bradford Jewish community as grew up; VH becoming a GP and working till death at 86 when oldest GP in country; memories of fellow GP’s Dr Cainer’s house and PL as a regular visitor as a young boy; EL having a breakdown at one point and PL sent away. Dr Cainer as keeping observant household. VH a member of reformed synagogue and PL’s family going to orthodox synagogue in Bradford; beauty of reform synagogue; PL member of Zionist youth movement called Habonim. (46.08) EL interested in people; EH working in fashion and textiles; EH creative; teaching crochet to adults; setting up hand knitting company; designing for Lister’s Mill. EH working in stores, usually as manageress. Father not talking much about life before the war; EH talking more. PL’s father Frederick, known as Fritz in Austria but Freddie in UK (FL); FL’s view of Bradford in later life; FL interested in football; FL and PL travelling to see matches; standing on terrace and FL putting PL on shoulders; FL not finding good jobs. PL’s family sharing house with family of fellow émigré soldier Ken Gibson (KG); FL and KG setting up unsuccessfully as market traders; FL eventually working for mill owner David Pick; PL playing with Pick children; anecdote about drinking from their drinks cabinet. Number of wealthy Jewish mill owners in Bradford. [01:02:02] PL knowing little of FL’s upbringing; FL’s brother Mopsy emigrating to Israel but killed just after war of independence; [rustling where microphone falls off] PL’s cousin Ariel having researched family tree and been back to Vienna. PL regretting not recording EL’s memories. Remarks on Ariel’s research. Comments on EL’s forebears; VH having a crest; VH an inventor and having radical ideas about medicine; VH part of Viennese milieu and had Schoenberg as a choirmaster; VH passionate about music. [01:08:50] PL spending a lot of time with VH as a child; VH’s appearance; sitting with VH in reform synagogue. PL also often left with grandmother; PL given horrible jobs by grandmother like picking skin off feet. VH having wonderful library and PL spending time looking at his natural history books. VH also collecting paintings, mentions reproductions of Rubens and Canelletto. PL sculpting VH’s head. VH taking PL to Cartwright Gallery; PL particularly remembering glass beehive. PL also taken by frieze of textile working around statue of Lister in Manningham Park. Comments on grandparents’ house. VH marrying mistress Mela when PL’s grandmother died and living in larger house with cabinets full of objects. VH spending money on going to concerts and collecting books and objects; PL fond of carved wooden writing desk; comments on VH’s relationship with second wide Mela; [01:28:50] Grandparents speaking German to each other; grandmother dying of diabetes and having gangrene in legs. Remarks on relationship between EL and Mela. [01:33:13] PL’s family living first in Buttershaw then in large Victorian terrace in Manningham in Bertram Road; description of house; house shared with Gibsons; PL and brother George sleeping in attic. Smog of Bradford. [01:40:00] GL going to Lillycroft Primary School and put in B stream and was one of few in class that passed eleven plus; PL keen on football; school memories; abbatoir on way to school; Rington’s Tea factory at the back of PL’s house and visiting the stables there; playing out in streets playing cricket and practising shooting with air rifle; friends among neighbours. GL having written books about Northern childhood which are well observed; book about rumour that Rudolf Hess lived in their street. Another story about PL setting light to a bag of fireworks in his lap. [01:51:00] Comments on relationship with brother and sister; GL attractive and charismatic; PL once accidentally hitting GL with cricket bat; sister Vivienne looking up to PL; parents badly off so PL left with sense of struggle; parents happy for PL to continue with education. [01:57:23] Parents not very interested in arts. Good art room at grammar school but art not well taught. PL liking English and drama, appearing in school play and falling for leading lady. PL remembering negative things that happened; incident of being bullied by boys from another school.

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item