Fred Vine: childhood interest in maps and aerial views

Fred Vine tells story of an event at school in 1950, reflecting his childhood interest in and ability to visualise landscape from above.

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From a very early age I was very keen on maps. I think that is quite significant I always think. And I’d quite like to tell you this story, although it’s boasting in a way, but I think it’s significant. In my last year at primary school, so this would've been when I was ten actually, at Hogarth Primary School in Chiswick, the head teacher came in one day and he had the Radio Times with him [laughs]. And it was the week before the boat race, and I think they still do it to this day sometimes, it had this aerial photograph of our area, with the boat race course in it, you see, and marked up. He held this up and he said, ‘Now when do you think this aerial photograph was taken?’ And this is in, as I say, 1950. ‘Who thinks it was taken in the last two or three years? Whole loads of hands go up, you know. ‘Who thinks it was taken, er, by the next few years back,’ you know. ‘Who thinks it was taken - ?’ Went on for about four or five -, with all these hands going up. So eventually we got back to pre-war [laughs] and erm, by this time there were only about two or three of us who hadn’t put our hand up, ‘Who thinks it's pre 1939,’ you know. So in the end I was the only person who hadn’t put their hand up [laughs]. And he said, ‘Well why do you think it’s that old?’ I mean pre-1937, ’36 or whatever. I said, ‘Well the,’ [laughs] the funny thing was I specifically said, ‘the dual carriageway,’ [laughs] ‘of Ellesmere Road doesn’t show up and I think ‘cause it was very new it would be very clear from the air.’ [Laughs] And they were flabbergasted. I mean it was absolutely right. You see, this thing was driven through – this is part of, you know, it's now the M4 Extension, that little bit, Ellesmere Road through Chiswick, which ran just up to our school, just short of our school, the dual carriageway was built before the War, it wasn't quite finished off. And subsequently I learned that one of the things that really took the teachers by surprise was the fact I called it a dual carriageway [laughs]. And the only reason I called it a dual carriageway was if you’re cycling round Chiswick and you’d go down Park Road or something and then you see the sign, ‘Dual Carriageway’ [laughs]. I don’t think we ever use it now, do we? And it was really quite funny. But the point was that I, from a very young age, I tried to visualise what the locality would look like from the air. It just fascinated me, you know. So when I came across maps, I was absolutely, you know, and I’ve always been terribly keen on maps, all sort of maps.

  • Interviewee Fred Vine
  • Duration 00:02:39
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 8/5/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/25

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