Ref NoRMB/50
TitleOral history interview with Mr Harikrishna Shah on 30 June 2015
Date30 June 2015
Extent1 Wav file and 1 transcript
Name of CreatorUniversity of Surrey, Alumni and Development Department
Marbiah, Masue
Shah, Harikrishna
Description[Limit free access on internet]
Interview conducted by Masue Marbiah.

00:00-00:46 - Introduction

00:46-09:12: Why Battersea College? Studied in Kampala, Uganda; brother in London arranged application to Battersea College; describes journey to London; mix of nationalities on course, British Guiana, India, Kenya, Israel, Cyprus, Malta, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Sweden, Nigeria; socialised together at college

09:12-10:45: First Impressions: buildings were black with soot, many cleaned for Queen's coronation in 1953; cold and gloomy in September; drab area of London

10:45-11:36: Why Civil Engineering? Interest in building houses, would visit construction sites

11:36-14:41: Course structure: Very busy; recalls first year was spent completing A-levels; socialised with brother and his friends; walked into London to visit museums and galleries; lectures from 9am until 5pm each day

14:41-18:48: Money: recalls studies paid for by parents, monthly allowance; winter clothing, Battersea scarf; recalls purchasing books and weights for scales in laboratories; bus fares

18:48-21:15: Accommodation: describes rented accommodation; recalls dinner was provided; describes finances; mentions buying lunch at The Refectory

21:15-23:36: Food: The Refectory, vegetarian meals available; main dish and dessert for one shilling and three pence; community eating together, lecturers with a table to one side, happy to talk to students

23:36-26:55: Student Fees: First year of student fees was £25, increased to £33 by graduation; spent £1,200 over whole of degree on fees and food and accommodation

26:55-34:27: Part-time Work: repaired clothes; worked in holidays; recalls 1953 London flood, worked on flood defences; apartment building, Southampton; Portishead power station, £4 a week; jobs were advertised on college noticeboard; travelled with engineer who lived nearby;
Examination results: displayed at Senate House, University of London; graduation from University of London, Associate of Battersea College of Technology

34:27-40:52: Cooking: Indian food; would cook and eat together; shopped in greengrocers; remembers when Sainsbury's and Co-Operative stores opened, 1955; Indian foods, Jolly's in Russell Square, Patak's near Bond Street; hotel and catering restaurant, better than refectory;

40:52-44:42: Photographs: Wimbledon Common during survey, 1955; Sri Lankan, Basil Abraham Singh from British Guiana, Polish lecturer, Swede, Yakoub from Kenya; Roof of Battersea Polytechnic, survey work measuring altitude of sun, Fakoya from Nigeria, Mr Patel

44:42-51:55: Projects: Establish longitude and latitude of Battersea Polytechnic, tiered lights; Battersea Park, walk in nice weather, wooden rollercoaster built in park in 1952; Battersea Park lake, froze in winter

51:55-54:31: Socialising: Cook together and invite friends for dinner; J.Lyons tea room

54:31-56:26: Sports: Hockey team, played away on Saturday afternoons; describes socials with other teams; Colliers Wood sports ground, tennis

56:26-58:53: Music and Fashion: Social events held in Battersea Great Hall; dance lessons during lunch hour; RAG evening

58:53-01:06:47: Accommodation: Clapham Common halls of residence, oversubscribed, more expensive than rented accommodation; no en suite bathrooms, not even in hotels; meter for hot water; rented accommodation, then moved in with Indian family; finally rented flat between Streatham and Clapham, six guineas; lived with brother and other East Africans

01:06:47-01:10:20: Clothes: suit and tie, overcoat and scarf; Battersea scarf, woollen, striped, £3 from shop in Battersea Main Building, blue white and purple; weights for scales in laboratories

01:10:20-01:17:13: Holiday employment: notice board in Battersea Main Building; Professional Engineer's Employment Bureau, Sir William Halcrow and Partners, employment at Southampton in a powerplant, accommodation at Young Men's Christian Association; Marchwood Power Station, Portishead Power Station; employment after graduation with Sir William Halcrow and Partners, power plant in Wellington;

01:17:13-01:23:51: Fond memories: RAG weeks; lots of pollution; fog in December 1952, bus conductor walked in front of bus; floods in Regent's Park

01:23:51-01:26:20: Graduation: formal presentation by Queen Mother, Royal Albert Hall, certificate sent to students by post a few days later; no event after graduation

01:26:20-01:39:17: After graduation: free time after exams, so returned to Sir William Halcrow and Partners; employment in Park Lane office; project to Libya; based in London or Redhill; project in Malaysia, hydro-electric scheme; Mangla Dam, Pakistan; Thames Barking Barrier and flood defences; most projects are not built

01:39:17-01:43:51: Travel: take the opportunity; Kuwait, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, the Philippines;

01:43:51-01:50:20: Battersea Polytechnic: examinations taken at Imperial College, students talk of transferring to Imperial College, but happy at Battersea; most engineering colleagues were Cambridge alumni; Brian Cox, hydraulics lecturer; no regrets; taught graduates himself during working life

01:50:27 - End
Administrative HistoryMr Harikrishna Shah graduated from Battersea in 1956 in Civil Engineering and continued to work at Battersea as a lecturer for two years.
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