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Interview with John Geddes, 21 July 2010

By John Geddes and Jenny Keating


John Geddes was born in 1918 and went to primary school in Battersea, south London, where he remembered doing very little history. At 11 he went to Clapham Central School. As with a grammar school, he had to sign up to stay there till he was 16. The history course went from the Stone Age to the Crimean War. He found history very boring; homework was reading from a textbook and answering questions on it in class, most of which he got wrong. He would have preferred social history but this was not taught. However, in the second year they got to do a historical project on their own. John chose to do ‘pioneers in farming’ as his parents were Scottish and came from farming backgrounds. He loved working on this project – he discovered Battersea Reference Library which fascinated him. This was their homework and they continued to work on chronological kings and queens in class. His school started technical and commercial streams and then did not offer history at School Certificate level so he gave it up at that stage. After school he was in the police force and the RAF and did teacher training and taught commerce where he sometimes taught elements of history to illustrate the development of money orders and transport. Interviewed by Jenny Keating

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