Interview with Norman Bassant
The interview with Norman Bassant was recorded on 20th January 2014 at his home in Culverstone. The interviewer was Ann Kneif.
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Born Norman Victor Bassant, September 1932 in Northfleet. Father was away on National Service (fire service) during WW2. He died when Norman was 15 years old. Mother Scottish by birth but moved to Northfleet 1927/1928
Schooling and Early Years
Elementary school, missed 11+ so went to Gravesend School of Craft (Technical College). Mainly normal education but two days a week offered silversmith and jewellery classes, which he loved.
With help of teacher, found apprenticeship as silversmith in Hammersmith. After 3 years moved to Central London. Hard work but after 5 years finished apprenticeship and became Freeman of City of London and of Goldsmiths Hall.
Spent 2 years in Royal Army Medical Corps and became Sergeant.
Met future wife, who was a Court dressmaker. Married and bought maisonette in Northfleet.
Talks about a large job for Chelsea Hospital.
Offered job teaching 2 days a week at Medway College of Design, where he stayed for 12 years.
Worked for main companies in London using their hallmark. For Queen's Jubilee in 2002 given contract to make Queen's mace but insisted on his own terms: own hallmark.
Meeting the Queen
Went to Buckingham Palace, where he met the Queen and other important people. Mace now in museum at Chelsea Hospital. More work followed.
Model of Chelsea Hospital
Given contract to make model of Chelsea Hospital. It was very complicated and he was pushed to limits. He described it as a 'labour of love'. I
In 1975 sold house in Gravesend and moved to Meopham.
Does not know how all the shops in Meopham survive today. Talks about problems with Spar and Tesco and the Spar at Culverstone and the parking problems. Hopes Meopham does not change but many new houses need new infrastructure. Index
Church Exhibition (MHS)
Saw exhibition in Church on how Meopham was 100 years ago and unbelievable how it has changed.
Culverstone Primary School
Talks about first flint school at Culverstone. Now the traffic is bad and there is no street lighting. Primary School has a good reputation.
Belongs to bowls club and plays golf.
Both he and his wife were involved in the building of Culverstone Hall in 1980s. Raised money and was community spirit. Both it and the recreation ground used by population. Annual completion for cups, dancing, summer fetes etc. Panto every year. Complained that the younger generation is not interested.
Talks about granddaughters going to school there. Parking bad and tried walking train but did not last. Children today do not walk to school. He walked to school in all weathers when young. Bad behaviour today as no discipline.
Photos of Own Work
Shows lots of photos of his work.
Talks about an article Fifty Years of Craftsman, an article published in Goldsmiths' Review, which is about the work he has done.
Continuing with the interview until 1:15:12 with the aid of pieces and photographs, about the various jobs he has done as a silversmith.