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David Longley 1934 to 2022

David Longley 1934 to 2022

David Longley (1934-2022) m Anne (1935-2007) in 1959

Polite note: This page is the text from a document that I maintain, in which there are many images. I have published the words of the document, along with other documents, such that it might prove useful to others. If you get in touch, and we can share research, I’ll happily share images.

This post is part of my broader research into the Longleys of Leeds


David Longley (my father) was the first and only child of Walter Gerald Longley and Doris, born in 1934.

Dad was due to emigrate to New Zealand with his parents on the 10th September 1939, however the outbreak of World War II meant that their passage to NZ, which was booked on the Rotorua steamship, was cancelled.

According to Dad, they had moved back into Banham Rectory for a short while before they were due to emigrate.

With their plans scuppered by the outbreak of World War II, Grandpa found work as a gardener at Ludham Manor, and they lived aboard a houseboat – Blue Darr.

Blue Darr, Horsey, Norfolk Broads, 1938 (this is not the location of 1939)

The family moved to Stowmarket – sometime before Dad was 7.

His early education was at Stowmarket Grammar school between 1941 and 1952, achieving passes in Latin, English, English Literature, History, Religious Knowledge, French, Elementary Mathematics, Botany, and Chemistry.

In 1952 he was awarded what I think are A Levels in English Literature, History, and French, as well as a Certificate of Merit for History.

Following in the footsteps of his paternal grandfather Reginald Walter Longley, he studied at Peterhouse (Cambridge) – choosing a degree in History. He started in 1952, graduating in 1955 with a first-class honours. His entry to Peterhouse was not without some degree of mild controversy – finding his latin very difficult, and getting some “help”.

Dad’s room at Peterhouse, Cambridge

One story that Dad told me was of one particular event where they disassembled something which may have been a car, and reassembled it on the roof of Peterhouse. While I may have the details slightly awry (it’s close), the following photograph suggests that I’m not far wrong!

Written on the back: D. Longley on roof of Peterhouse. 1954.

Dad’s brief account of having met Mum (in his own words) is as follows:

Many crews competing at Henley Royal Regatta would be given B & B accommodation by Henley residents. Several of the Peterhouse crew – including me would stay with the Hammonds in Western Road. Their daughter Jane worked for the BBC and would be bringing a friend for the weekend.

So it was that on the evening of Saturday 2 July 1955 I was at the sink preparing veg for supper. I was wearing a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, and my boat club tie. A very pretty young woman thought I should tuck my tie into my shirt and proceeded to do so for me.”

In 1955 Dad was awarded a Bachelor of the Arts from Cambridge University.

Only a few weeks after they first met, Dad started his National Service, and they maintained a regular correspondence via airmail from the outset.

He started his basic training at Gibraltar Barracks, The Suffolk Regiment, Bury St Edmonds in 1955.

He then transferred to Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School in Chester in 1955.

Eaton Hall, Chester, 1955

DL (bottom-right) basic training. Suffolk or Chester.

He completed his National Service in the Gold Coast Training Regiment Centre in Kumasi between 1955 and 1956. He was taught to swim while completing his national service, having rowed for Peterhouse being unable to swim.

Specialised as a marksman (I need to verify this).

Passed out at Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School on the 10th February 1956 in the Royal Norfolk Regiment as a Lieutenant.

David Longley in uniform.
Location unknown. ?Luton, or UK barracks?

His first job was at Skefco – a ball bearing manufacturer in Luton – in 1957, on about £11 per week. What led him to join Skefco is something that I will never know. It’s entirely possible that it was the product of a recruitment fayre, or similar. Luton isn’t a million miles from Cambridge, and Dad’s extended family in and around Norfolk.


Mum and Dad married in 1959. 

1958 – 1959 : Honeygate, Luton (Dad)

In 1960 Dad was awarded an MA from Cambridge University. I believe that Cambridge automatically awards an MA after 4 years of original graduation – provided that you have not been (I think this is correct) divorced, made bankrupt, or jailed.

By 1963 Mum and Dad were living in Houghton Regis – their final address in and around Luton and Dunstable before they moved to Blackwater. Given its apparent age, it’s entirely possible that the house was new when they moved in.

They moved to Blackwater between 1966 and my birth – about 1966 I think. What took them there is, again, unknown.

Mum and Dad’s neighbours were Belle and David Hughes. I remember them as kind smokers, who always had stones tumbling in a pot.

Like Easthill road, given the apparent age of 49 FPD, it’s quite possible that it was a new build, or very recently built, when they moved in. It was a chalet style property, though I don’t remember much about it. I think my bedroom was downstairs at the front of the house. I remember a pond in the back garden that had a good collection of frogs – which we turned into a “zoo” one day!

In 1969 he was awarded a Diploma in Management Studies from the Slough Technical College.

He worked at United Glass at Staines, then later St Albans.

While at United Glass (UG) he maintains (and I have no reason to doubt him) that his calculations of the weight of plastic miniatures on board flights, relative to glass miniatures, would save significant aviation fuel, and led to the replacement of glass with plastic on aircraft globally.

He held various roles in his time at UG including Pricing, and Sales and Marketing.

His role with UG and Distillers took him to a lot of UK and overseas locations, and he established a network of friends including Henning and Bita (Danes) who owned Grianan in Killichonan on the shores of Loch Rannoch in Scotland. Some of our best times as a family were while we stayed there as there was no TV and no telephone, and so Dad was disconnected from his work.

Grianan, Killichonan, Loch Rannoch, Scotland
In the distance you can see the summit of Schiehallion

Schiehallion features in a number of Grandpa’s paintings – though he never visited it – painting it from photographs.

As a family we moved to Fleet.

5C was one of 3 properties that had been built on the site on a house that had been knocked down. I seem to remember that Dad retrieved the house name sign from the construction site, and adopted it as the name of the home we lived in from 1975 until our various departures. It was an “efficient” house with 2 huge trees in the back garden – an oak and a beech – which were the source of some conflict with our neighbours the Morris Family.

Dad took immense pride in his lawn, with Rob and me using it as a putting green.

While at Fleet (it may have been earlier, but I was too young to notice), and later Rotate, Dad invested a lot of time becoming skilled in the art of making beer, lager, and a wide range of wines and fortified wine.

Dad was an active member of amateur dramatics society The Fleet Players as an actor, stage manager and set construction. Mum was involved in props during this time. They later joined fell out of love with Fleet Players and joined Christchurch Players in Church Crookham, Fleet. The most memorable production for a young lad like me was The Ghost Train – where Dad simulated the sound of a train by dragging a garden roller behind the set.

He worked at the Guildford County School, Guildford, Surrey (as a bursar) from around 1992 for about a year.

He retired around 1993/ 1994.

Mum and Dad Moved to Rogate.

In their final year in Fleet, and then at Rogate, Dad was heavily into video production, setting up Heron Productions where, along with a collection of close friends, they made many films including Broken Dreams (1999), Group Therapy (2000), Isabel (2002), Natalie (2003), Helena (2004), Gertrude (2005), Madeleine (2005) and Jennifer (2006).

The team at Heron Productions was centred around Dad, Ron Clements, David Jackson, Eric Piper and Brian Broad. Looking at the credits on the back of the DVD case you can see the multiple roles that Mum and Dad played, and the nom-de-plumes that they used. Mum and Dad’s names don’t feature at all, but many mixed-up family names do.

Alongside video production, Dad was also involved in the talking newspaper, which I think was based out of Farnham.

Dad was also central to SERIAC for several years, managing the entries for numerous film festivals, as well as submitting and winning entries himself.

Held a position as Chairman at Rogate Village Hall, as well as playing a central role in the Rogate Village fete. Mum and Dad routinely hosted the brass band for “tea” after the fete.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep in October 2022.

The children of David Longley and Anne

Rob was born in 1964

I was born in 1968