Mr B. Alford discusses getting a job as an architect for Stevenage
Mr Alford talks about how he managed to get a job as an architect in Stevenage, and how his previous experience with Grays in Essex helped him to get this.
I was married so we needed a job with accommodation. In those days the West Country was fairly inactive after the war, and there was no hope of a job and accommodation. So the first job that came up in the architect’s journal was a job at Grays in Essex for the Thurrock Urban District Council as an architectural assistant, which also advertised the provision of accommodation. I applied for this job and was short-listed and at the same time I received a reply from a job at Stevenage Development Corporation. But at the time I’d made the short list at Grays, I didn’t know whether I was going to be short-listed at Stevenage, so having got to Grays, they interviewed me and I talked to the councillors and in evening they offered me the job, thinking that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; I thought well I must take this job regardless, although I would have preferred to go to Stevenage which as everyone in the architecture world knew was a brave new town just starting out, and the ideal start for a young architect. So I went to Grays anyway, and indeed it proved to be a very good experience, at that time they were building houses like everyone and they were particularly keen to get cheap houses built. Part of the experience we had was designing and building houses which were simple in design and economical to build, with local small builders. I stayed there for 9 months, by which time I heard I passed my final, and I’d also taken the professional practice examination which one has to take a year after passing the final, and knowing that I’d passed that I asked for an increase in my salary at Grays, but this was not forthcoming so I decided to apply somewhere else. About that time a job came up in Stevenage again with the Development Corporation. So I thought well I’ll have a go at this and I applied and was short-listed, and at the interview they were interested in the houses we had been building in Thurrock and while they might not have like our simple designs they were impressed when I told them we were building houses for twelve hundred pounds I think it was in those days; where in Stevenage was having extreme difficulty in getting anything under about fifteen hundred pounds.