Hopwood & Godwin: A Life In Post-Independence Nigeria
Gillian Hopwood (Godwin Hopwood Kuye) & John Godwin (Godwin Hopwood Kuye)


Gillian Hopwood & John Godwin, 2021

©Gillian Hopwood & John Godwin

GH: John and I met at the AA. We actually did a joint thesis, and then we got engaged - that was that Christmas 1950, immediately after we qualified. And we kind of went our separate ways for a little while, because John had to go... well he had to do his army service. Did you go straight into the army, John? JG: No, I did... I had a deferment period of about a year in order to be able to finish the Bratt Colbran scholarship, which I never finished. GH: So he had won the Bratt Colbran in the last year of the AA. John went into the army, and got a commission in August 1951. When John came out he then joined YRM, didn't you? JG: Yes. GH: Well I had got a job sort of after the AA with Alister MacDonald, who was doing work in Dhekelia in Cyprus. So it was very interesting and enjoyable, and it was the most chaotic office but absolutely wonderful to work in. Then at some point we did a scheme for the Sheffield University competition. JG: We did it with Jack Howe; there was the three of us. GH: But we did not win, because if we had won our lives would have been very different!


John Godwin, 1953

©Gillian Hopwood & John Godwin

GH: We went to Nigeria because John had been looking around for a job overseas, and I was willing to go overseas. The point was the conditions in the country at the time. The work at YRM was not particularly interesting, and we actually went away for Christmas, came back and I said I didn't want to go back to the office. So we went off to the AA for lunch, and Leo De Syllas was looking for somebody to go to Nigeria. So he came across the room, and asked John if he had ever thought of going to Nigeria, and John said no (but I think he knew where it was!). So John went back to ACP's office that afternoon, and was given a job as a resident partner in Lagos. It was as quick as that and within about six weeks... JG: Yes, before I actually went out... GH: Before you actually went out... JG: Yes... GH: And I followed about six weeks later. JG: I remember I had to learn to drive - I did that, in I think, two weeks at the school of motoring. My first driving lesson I was out on the... by the Thames, and the chap said... gave me the keys and said right, you can drive back. And of course I was driving back via Trafalgar Square - can you imagine, first time driver, driving round Trafalgar Square! Anyway, we got round quite safely. GH: Anyway, we went to Nigeria. Leo had found us a flat - it was one owned by a contractor, a standard PWD [Public Works Department] flat - which had scullery, pantry, kitchen, sitting, dining, one bedroom and a dressing room. And we lived there quite happily for eighteen months. JG: And you remember where the flats were? They overlooked a beautiful open space, which was full of yellow birds, I seem to remember, and looked right out over towards the Lagos town itself. So this place was in a suburb of Lagos, in fact, a place called Ebute Metta.

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