Interview with David Newham, 12 May 2010
David Newham was born in 1938 and went to infants’ school in Nottingham where he remembered no history being taught. However, he remembered history lessons at the boys’ school next door which he moved to at seven, especially the time he made a model of a Viking longboat. At nine he went to the upper part of the school where history was taught by ‘talk and chalk’. There was no homework. At eleven the pupils all took the 11+ and if they failed they usually stayed at the boys’ school to 14 unless they got into a technical school. David had to take the month off before the exam to look after his mother who was ill so despite being in the top three in his class he failed. However when he was 13 he was one of those nominated to take the 13+ examination (a ‘second chance’ to go to grammar school which some areas organised). This time he passed so at 13 he went to the grammar school. David found history at this school really disappointing. Previously he had been taught history in an interesting way, now he missed out the Middle Ages and the Tudors and went straight to the 18th and 19th centuries where he felt there was endless concentration on the Corn Laws and similarly dry topics. He found it all very boring and did not do well in history O level which was a compulsory subject. David left school after O levels and was an apprentice draughtsman and eventually qualified as a design engineer. Despite having found history so dull at the grammar school he is now fascinated by it and reads a great deal about it and visits historical sites.