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Local historian hits 100

Article by Ann Nash of Friendship House

Dr Peter Kingsford (100)
Dr Peter Kingsford (100)

Dr Peter Kingsford was born on 22 November 1908 in the district of East Battersea. At that time, one hundred years ago, King Edward VIII (the eldest son of Queen Victoria) was on the throne.

In 1928 Peter Kingsford was working as a clerk at the office of the Superintendent of the Line at Paddington Station, (Sir Ernest Palmer of Huntley and Palmer), and deputy chairman of the Great Western Railway.

GWR had a policy of sending their clerks to evening courses at the Railway Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and Dr.Kingsford consequently attended a course in operating economics. He obtained a first class pass, and decided to take the BSc (econ) at the LSE. In 1952 he took his PhD at the LSE.

In World War II, Peter Kingsford joined the Army Educational Corps and served as Lieutenant in India and Malaya. After the war he continued his career in education and moved to Brookmans Park.

'Every morning I used to cycle through Welham Green, down Dixons Hill Road to the traffic lights at the bottom and go up the A1 to Hatfield Technical College, which I helped Dr Chapman to open in 1952.'

Hertfordshire University began life in 1952 as Hatfield Technical College. A Times reporter talked to Dr Peter Kingsford, its original registrar and head of social studies. He recalled the chalk-and-talk lectures, the stark facilities and the students in suits (there were only fifty women), but also the excitement:

'I remember being incredibly ambitious for the place - there was talk about it becoming a university even then.'

Peter Kingsford, an eminent author of many publications with reference to local history, (many of these can be read on this website in the history section). His latest book, 'Without a Shot in Anger' was published in 2002.

Dr. Kingsford has attended and supported Friendship House for well over a decade, where he has enjoyed playing scrabble and discussions on the latest cricket scores. He maintains a keen interest in his garden and still manages to write a letter or two despite his failing eyesight.

To honour Peter's century, a surprise celebratory luncheon was held on Friday 21 November, to which the Town Mayor and the District Mayor were invited, together with his daughter-in-law Elaine.

Dr.Kingsford was presented with two beautiful bouquets from the respective Mayors and from Friendship House a delightful planter with deep red primroses surrounding a golden conifer.

Earlier in the week Dr.Kingsford had received an Honorary Fellowship of the University of Hertfordshire.

While here at Friendship House we feel privileged that Dr. Kingsford chooses to spend some leisure time with us. We send him our heartiest congratulations and best wishes for the future.

You can discuss Dr Peter Kingsford's contribution to local community life in this site's forum.

27 November 2008

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