De Havilland DH 108
The de Havilland DH 108 "Swallow" was a British experimental aircraft designed by John Carver Meadows Frost in October 1945. The DH 108 featured a tailless, swept wing with a single vertical stabilizer, similar to the layout of the wartime German Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet rocket-powered point-defence interceptor. Designed to evaluate swept wing handling characteristics at low and high subsonic speeds for the proposed early tailless design of the Comet airliner, three examples of the DH 108 were built to Air Ministry specifications E.1/45 and E.11/45. With the adoption of a conventional tail for the Comet, the aircraft were used instead to investigate swept wing handling up to supersonic speeds. All three prototypes were lost in fatal crashes. Employing the main fuselage section and engine of the de Havilland Vampire mated to a longer fuselage with a single tailfin and swept wings, the de Havilland DH 108 was proposed in 1944 as a test "mule" for the DH 106 Comet, considered a tailless, swept-wing concept.
Despite the Comet design taking on more conventional features, the value of testing the unique configuration to provide basic data for the DH.110 spurred de Havilland to continue development of the DH 108. Selecting two airframes from the English Electric Vampire F 1 production line, the new aircraft had unmistakable similarities to its fighter origins in the original forward fuselage which retained the nose and other components of the Vampire; the Ministry of Supply named the DH 108 the "Swallow", a name, never adopted by the company. The new metal wing incorporating a 43˚ sweepback was 15% greater in area than the standard Vampire wing. Control was based on the conventional rudder in combination with elevons that were part elevator and ailerons, fitted outboard of the split trailing edge flaps. Although the Vampire fuselage was retained, as development continued, a revised nose and streamlined, reinforced canopy were incorporated; the first DH 108 prototype, serial number TG283, utilising the Vampire fuselage and a 43° swept wing, flew on 15 May 1946 at RAF Woodbridge.
Designed to investigate low-speed handling, it was capable of only 280 mph. The de Havilland Chief Test Pilot Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. son of de Havilland company owner-designer Geoffrey de Havilland, gave a display flight in the DH 108 during the 1946 Society of British Aircraft Constructors airshow at Radlett. In low-speed testing designed to clear the rear fuselage at high angles of attack, the first prototype was fitted with longer Sea Vampire landing gear; the second, high-speed prototype, TG306, with a 45° swept wing incorporating automatic leading-edge Handley Page slats and powered by a de Havilland Goblin 3 turbojet, flew soon after in June 1946. Modifications to the design included a more streamlined, longer nose and a smaller canopy facilitated by lowering the pilot's seat. While being used to evaluate handling characteristics at high speed, on 27 September 1946 TG306 suffered a catastrophic structural failure that occurred in a dive from 10,000 ft at Mach 0.9 and crashed in the Thames Estuary.
The pilot, Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. was killed in the accident. Early wind tunnel testing had pointed to dangerous flight behaviours, but pitch oscillation at high speed had been unexpected; the subsequent accident investigation centred on a structural failure that occurred as air built up at Mach 0.9, pitching the aircraft into a shock stall that placed tremendous loads on the fuselage and wings. The main spar cracked at the roots causing the wings to fold backwards. After the loss of the second prototype, VW120 became the third and final prototype based on the newer Vampire F.5 fighter built at Hatfield. It differed from the first test aircraft in that it featured an more streamlined pointed nose and smaller reinforced canopy. Power-boosted elevators had been specified as a means to control the pitch oscillations at the root of the earlier disaster. A more powerful Goblin 4 of 3,738 lbf thrust had the potential to push the DH 108 into the supersonic range. VW120 first flew on 24 July 1947 flown by the wartime nightfighter ace.
Considered an important testbed for high-speed flight, VW120 was readied for an attempt at the World Speed Record held by a Gloster Meteor at 616 mph. The second prototype, TG306, was a "backup" for the attempt. On 12 April 1948, VW120 established a new World Air Speed Record of 604.98 mph on a 62-mile circuit. On 6 September 1948, John Derry is thought to have exceeded the speed of sound in a shallow dive from 40,000 ft to 30,000 ft; the test pilot Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, who escaped a crash in 1949, described the DH 108 as "a killer". In 1949, VW120 put on an aerial display at Farnborough and scored third place in the Society of British Aircraft Constructors Challenge Trophy Air Race before being turned over to the Ministry of Supply and test flown at RAE Farnborough, it was destroyed on 15 February 1950 in a crash near Brickhill, killing its test pilot, Squadron Leader Stuart Muller-Rowland. The accident investigation pointed to a faulty oxygen system. A coroner's report published in the local newspaper one month confirmed that the pilot died from a broken neck.
The failure of the left wing as the plane occurred just above the garage at Brickhill. This failure was presumed to be the source of a "bang" described by witnesses at Brickhill. Swishing sounds which were reported came from the aircraft spinning at a high rate due t
Denholm Mitchell Elliott, was an English actor, with more than 120 film and television credits. Some of his well-known roles include the abortionist in Alfie, Marcus Brody in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Coleman in Trading Places, Mr. Emerson in A Room with a View. Elliott earned critical acclaim in his career, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in A Room with a View and won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in three consecutive years in the 1980s, becoming the only actor to have achieved this. The American film critic Roger Ebert described him as "the most dependable of all British character actors." The New York Times called him "a star among supporting players" and "an accomplished scene-stealer". Elliott was born in the son of Nina and Myles Layman Farr Elliott. Myles was a barrister who had read law and Arabic at Cambridge before fighting with the Glosters at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia.
In 1930 Myles Elliott was appointed solicitor-general to the Mandatory Government in Palestine. Three years following a series of controversial government prosecutions, he was assassinated outside the King David Hotel and buried in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion. Elliott's elder brother Neil was land agent to Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck. Elliott trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, he was asked to leave the academy after one term. As Elliott recalled, "They wrote to my mother and said,'Much as we like the little fellow, he's wasting your money and our time. Take him away!'"In the Second World War, he joined the Royal Air Force, training as a wireless operator/air gunner and serving with No. 76 Squadron RAF under the command of Leonard Cheshire. On the night of 23/24 September 1942, his Handley Page Halifax DT508 bomber took part in an air raid on the U-boat pens at Flensburg, Germany; the aircraft was subsequently ditched in the North Sea near Sylt, Germany. Only Elliott and two crewmen survived, he spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp in Silesia.
While imprisoned, he became involved in amateur dramatics. After making his film debut in Dear Mr. Prohack, he went on to play a wide range of parts ineffectual and seedy characters, such as the drunken journalist Bayliss in Defence of the Realm, the criminal abortionist in Alfie, the washed-up film director in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Elliott and Natasha Parry played, he took over for an ill Michael Aldridge for one season of The Man in Room 17 Elliott made many television appearances, which included plays by Dennis Potter such as Follow the Yellow Brick Road and Treacle, Blade on the Feather. He starred in the BBC's adaptation of Charles Dickens's short story The Signalman. In the 1980s he won three consecutive British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards—Best Supporting Actor for Trading Places as Dan Aykroyd's kindly butler, A Private Function, Defence of the Realm—as well as an Academy Award nomination for A Room with a View, he became familiar to a wider audience as the well-meaning but addlepated Dr. Marcus Brody in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
A photograph of his character appears in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a reference is made to Brody's death. A statue was dedicated to Marcus outside Marshall College, the school where Indy teaches. In 1988 Elliott was the Russian mole Povin, around whom the entire plot revolves, in the television miniseries Codename: Kyril. Having filmed Michael Winner's The Wicked Lady, Elliott was quoted in a BBC Radio interview as saying that Marc Sinden and he "are the only two British actors I am aware of who have worked with Winner more than once, it wasn't for love, but curiously, I never saw any of the same crew twice.". Elliott had worked with Sir Donald Sinden, in the film The Cruel Sea, he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn and Harold Gould in the television film Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry and with Nicole Kidman in Bangkok Hilton. In 1988 Elliott was appointed a commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to acting, his career included many stage performances, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company, a well-acclaimed turn as the twin brothers in Jean Anouilh's Ring Round the Moon.
His scene-stealing abilities led Gabriel Byrne, his co-star in Defence of the Realm, to say: "Never act with children, dogs, or Denholm Elliott."Despite being described by British Film Institute's Screenonline as an actor of "versatile understanding and immaculate technique," Elliott described himself as an instinctive actor and was a critic of Stanislavski's system of acting, saying, "I mistrust and am rather bored with actors who are of the Stanislavski school who think about detail." Bisexual, Elliott was married twice: first to actress Virginia McKenna for a few months in 1954, in an open marriage, to American actress Susan Robinson, with whom he had two children and Jennifer. Jennifer committed suicide in 2003. Elliott was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and died of AIDS-related tuberculosis at his home in Santa Eulària des Riu on Ibiza, Spain, on 6 October 1992 at the age of 70. Tributes were paid by actors Sir Donald Sinden and Sir Peter Ustinov, playwright Dennis Potter, former wife Virginia McKenna.
Sir Alexander Korda was a British film producer and director and screenwriter, who founded his own film production studios and film distribution company. Born in Hungary, where he began his career, he worked in the Austrian and German film industries during the era of silent films, before being based in Hollywood from 1926 to 1930 for the first of his two brief periods there; the change led to the divorce from his first wife, the Hungarian film actress María Corda, who could not make the transition because of her strong accent. From 1930, Korda was active in the British film industry, soon became one of its leading figures, he was the founder of London Films and, post-war, the owner of British Lion Films, a film distribution company. Korda was the first filmmaker to have been granted a knighthood; the elder brother of Zoltan and Vincent, Alexander Korda was born as Sándor László Kellner in Pusztatúrpásztó, Austria-Hungary. Born into a Jewish family, his parents were Ernesztina Weisz. Zoltan, a film director and Vincent, an art director had careers in the film industry working with their elder brother.
After the death of his father, Korda began writing film reviews to support his family. Korda changed his family name from Kellner to Korda—from the Latin phrase "sursum corda" which means "lift up your hearts". Korda became an important film figure through his film magazines Pesti Mozihét and Világ; this led to invitations to write film screenplays. Korda's first film script was for Watchhouse in the Carpathians, which he helped direct; when the First World War broke out, Korda was excused from military service in the Austrian Army because he was short-sighted. Korda made a film with The Duped Journalist, he directed Tutyu and Totyo, The Officer's Swordknot and Lyon Lea. Korda established a film company named building it into one of the largest in Hungary, his first film for them was a big success. He followed it with The Grandmother, Tales of the Typewriter, The Man with Two Hearts, The One Million Pound Note, Struggling Hearts, The Laughing Saskia, Miska the Magnate, St. Peter's Umbrella, The Stork Caliph, Magic.
Korda regarded Harrison and Barrison as his best film. He made Faun, The Man with the Golden Touch, Mary Ann. During the Hungarian Soviet Republic, Korda made Ave Caesar!, White Rose and Neither at Home or Abroad. His final Hungarian film was Number 111. In October 1919, Korda was arrested during the White Terror that followed the overthrow of the short-lived Communist government, the Hungarian Democratic Republic, because he had participated in its government. After his release, he left Hungary for Austria, never returned to his country of birth. After leaving Hungary, Korda accepted an invitation from Count Alexander Kolowrat to work for his company Sascha-Film in the Austrian capital Vienna. Korda worked alongside Kolowrat, who had attracted several leading Hungarian and German directors into his employment, on the historical epic The Prince and the Pauper; the film was a major international success and inspired Korda with the idea of making "international films" with global box office appeal.
Korda's next two films, Masters of the Sea and A Vanished World, were both nautical-set adventures based on Hungarian novels. By that stage, Korda had grown irritated with Kolowrat's interference with his work and left Sascha to make an independent film and Delilah, set in the world of opera; the film was made with large crowd scenes. The lengthy shooting schedule lasted 160 working days; the film was unsuccessful. Unable to find further backing for his film projects, Korda travelled to Germany. Korda raised funding for the melodrama The Unknown Tomorrow. With backing from Germany's biggest film company, UFA, Korda returned to Vienna to make Everybody's Woman. While there, he began work on his next film, the historical Tragedy in the House of Habsburg, which portrayed the Mayerling Incident, it earned back around half of its production cost. He followed this with another melodrama. Korda had frequent problems with money, had to receive support from friends and business associates. Korda had cast his wife Maria Corda as the female lead in all his German-language films and to a large degree, his productions depended on her star power.
Korda cast her again in A Modern Dubarry, which adapted the life story of Madame Du Barry, based on an original screenplay by Lajos Bíró. The film may have intended to highlight Maria Corda's star potential to Hollywood. Korda made his final German film Madame Wants No Children for the Berlin-based subsidiary of the American studio Fox. Although made it was released before A Modern Dubarry. In December 1926 after receiving an offer of a joint contract from the American studio First National and his wife sailed for the United States on board the steamer Olympic. Once they reached Hollywood, both struggled to adapt to the studio system. Korda had to wait some time before gaining his first directorial assignment, his first American film was a drama titled The Stolen Bride. Korda was chosen; the film starred the American actress Billie Dove, rather than Korda's wife. After The Stolen Bride's moderate success, Korda was brought in to work on the comedy The Private Life of Helen of Troy
A jet engine is a type of reaction engine discharging a fast-moving jet that generates thrust by jet propulsion. This broad definition includes airbreathing jet engines. In general, jet engines are combustion engines. Common parlance applies the term jet engine only to various airbreathing jet engines; these feature a rotating air compressor powered by a turbine, with the leftover power providing thrust via a propelling nozzle – this process is known as the Brayton thermodynamic cycle. Jet aircraft use such engines for long-distance travel. Early jet aircraft used turbojet engines which were inefficient for subsonic flight. Most modern subsonic jet aircraft use more complex high-bypass turbofan engines, they give higher speed and greater fuel efficiency than piston and propeller aeroengines over long distances. A few air-breathing engines made for high speed applications use the ram effect of the vehicle's speed instead of a mechanical compressor; the thrust of a typical jetliner engine went from 5,000 lbf in the 1950s to 115,000 lbf in the 1990s, their reliability went from 40 in-flight shutdowns per 100,000 engine flight hours to less than 1 per 100,000 in the late 1990s.
This, combined with decreased fuel consumption, permitted routine transatlantic flight by twin-engined airliners by the turn of the century, where before a similar journey would have required multiple fuel stops. Jet engines date back to the invention of the aeolipile before the first century AD; this device directed steam power through two nozzles to cause a sphere to spin on its axis. It was seen as a curiosity. Jet propulsion only gained practical applications with the invention of the gunpowder-powered rocket by the Chinese in the 13th century as a type of firework, progressed to propel formidable weaponry. Jet propulsion technology stalled for hundreds of years; the earliest attempts at airbreathing jet engines were hybrid designs in which an external power source first compressed air, mixed with fuel and burned for jet thrust. The Caproni Campini N.1, the Japanese Tsu-11 engine intended to power Ohka kamikaze planes towards the end of World War II were unsuccessful. Before the start of World War II, engineers were beginning to realize that engines driving propellers were approaching limits due to issues related to propeller efficiency, which declined as blade tips approached the speed of sound.
If aircraft performance were to increase beyond such a barrier, a different propulsion mechanism was necessary. This was the motivation behind the development of the gas turbine engine, the commonest form of jet engine; the key to a practical jet engine was the gas turbine, extracting power from the engine itself to drive the compressor. The gas turbine was not a new idea: the patent for a stationary turbine was granted to John Barber in England in 1791; the first gas turbine to run self-sustaining was built in 1903 by Norwegian engineer Ægidius Elling. Such engines did not reach manufacture due to issues of safety, reliability and sustained operation; the first patent for using a gas turbine to power an aircraft was filed in 1921 by Frenchman Maxime Guillaume. His engine was an axial-flow turbojet, but was never constructed, as it would have required considerable advances over the state of the art in compressors. Alan Arnold Griffith published An Aerodynamic Theory of Turbine Design in 1926 leading to experimental work at the RAE.
In 1928, RAF College Cranwell cadet Frank Whittle formally submitted his ideas for a turbojet to his superiors. In October 1929 he developed his ideas further. On 16 January 1930 in England, Whittle submitted his first patent; the patent showed a two-stage axial compressor feeding a single-sided centrifugal compressor. Practical axial compressors were made possible by ideas from A. A. Griffith in a seminal paper in 1926. Whittle would concentrate on the simpler centrifugal compressor only. Whittle was unable to interest the government in his invention, development continued at a slow pace. In 1935 Hans von Ohain started work on a similar design in Germany, both compressor and turbine being radial, on opposite sides of same disc unaware of Whittle's work. Von Ohain's first device was experimental and could run only under external power, but he was able to demonstrate the basic concept. Ohain was introduced to Ernst Heinkel, one of the larger aircraft industrialists of the day, who saw the promise of the design.
Heinkel had purchased the Hirth engine company, Ohain and his master machinist Max Hahn were set up there as a new division of the Hirth company. They had their first HeS 1 centrifugal engine running by September 1937. Unlike Whittle's design, Ohain used hydrogen as fuel, supplied under external pressure, their subsequent designs culminated in the gasoline-fuelled HeS 3 of 5 kN, fitted to Heinkel's simple and compact He 178 airframe and flown by Erich Warsitz in the early morning of August 27, 1939, from Rostock-Marienehe aerodrome, an impressively short time for development. The He 178 was the world's first jet plane. Heinkel applied for a US patent covering the Aircraft Power Plant by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain in May 31, 1939. Austrian Anselm Franz of Junkers' engine division introduced the axial-flow compressor in their jet engine. Jumo was assigned the next engine number in the RLM 109-0xx numbering sequence for gas turbine aircraft powerplants, "004", the result was t
London Films Productions is a British film and television production company founded in 1932 by Alexander Korda and from 1936 based at Denham Film Studios in Buckinghamshire, near London. The company's productions included The Private Life of Henry VIII, Things to Come and The Four Feathers; the facility at Denham was taken over in 1939 by Rank and merged with Pinewood to form D & P Studios. The outbreak of war necessitated that The Thief of Bagdad was completed in California, although Korda's handful of American-made films still had Big Ben for their opening corporate logo. After a restructuring of Korda's UK operations in the late 1940s, London Films were now made at Shepperton. One of these was The Third Man; the company's film The Sound Barrier won the Academy Award for Best Sound. More than 40 years after Korda died in January 1956, the company returned to active film-making in 1997 with Morgan Mason as the chief executive; the Drum That Hamilton Woman Lydia Jungle Book London Films on IMDb
Dorothy Anne Todd was an English actress and producer. Todd was born in Hartford, England. Although latterly claiming to be born in 1909, 1911 Census records show her born in 1907 and christened in March 1907, her Scottish-born father Thomas was a salesman, her London-born mother Constance a housewife. She had a younger brother Harold Brooke, her great great uncle was the English painter William Hogarth. After the family moved to London, Todd was educated at St. Winifrid's School, Sussex, she studied speech training and drama under Elsie Fogerty at the Central School of Speech and Drama based at the Royal Albert Hall, with the intention of becoming a drama teacher. But during her studies she made her stage debut as a fairy in "The Land of Heart's Desire" at the Arts Theatre Club in Soho, decided instead to persue a career in acting. In a London-based theatre actress, she began to accumulate walk-on parts in film, making her film debut in Keepers of Youth, she had roles in These Charming People, The Ghost Train, The Water Gipsies and The Return of Bulldog Drummond.
For Alex Korda, Todd was in Things to Come, Action for Slander, The Squeaker, South Riding. Todd appeared in the first British TV serial. During World War 2, Todd was in Poison Pen, Danny Boy, Ships with Wings, but she concentrated latterly again on theatre roles, putting in a memorable performance in Enid Bagnold's psychological thriller "Lottie Dundass" at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1943. Todd returned to film post-WW2 with a good support role in a big hit, Perfect Strangers had a huge success when she played a suicidal concert pianist in The Seventh Veil, opposite James Mason, she followed this with Gaiety George and a noir Daybreak. The Seventh Veil was a hit in the US as well as UK. In 1946, having been signed by producer David O. Selznick, Todd was said to be the "holder of the most lucrative contract signed by an English cinema actress, with over a million dollars involved in its clauses", she commented in subsequent interviews that she continued to do her own grocery shopping, latterly in her autobiography noted that she paid $880,000 in taxes on the contract.
She received a Hollywood offer from Alfred Hitchcock to play Gregory Peck's wife in The Paradine Case, a flop. So Evil My Love, a US-British co production was a box office disappointment, as was The Passionate Friends, directed by her husband David Lean. Lean directed Todd in Madeleine and The Sound Barrier. Todd appeared in The Green Scarf and Time Without Pity, she had a good part in Hammer Films' Taste of Fear. Todd starred in two episodes of Playhouse 90: "Not the Glory" and "The Grey Nurse Said Nothing". In 1957, post her divorce from David Lean, Todd made her Broadway-debut in the production of Four Winds. After starring in Ninety Degrees in the Shade in 1965/6, Todd retired from acting, only returning through out her life to roles to finance her new career producing a series of travel films, her autobiography is entitled The Eighth Veil, an allusion to the film which made her a star in Britain. Todd was known as the "pocket Garbo" for her blonde beauty. Todd said of herself, "I'm very shy, I get over that playing an actress."Todd married three times.
Her first husband, Victor N. Malcolm, was a grandson of Lillie Langtry, her second and third husbands were first cousins. She had a daughter with Nigel Tangye called Ann Francesca Tangye, she was divorced from Tangye 12 March 1949. Todd married film director Lean on 21 May 1949 and starred in a number of his films, including The Passionate Friends and The Sound Barrier. Lean and Todd divorced 15 July 1957. Todd died on 6 May 1993 from a stroke, aged 84. Ann Todd on IMDb performances listed in Theatre Archive University of Bristol Ann Todd at the Internet Broadway Database Ann Todd at the BFI's Screenonline Ann Todd at Find a Grave
Sir Ralph David Richardson was an English actor who, along with his contemporaries Peggy Ashcroft, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He worked in films throughout most of his career, played more than sixty cinema roles. From an artistic but not theatrical background, Richardson had no thought of a stage career until a production of Hamlet in Brighton inspired him to become an actor, he learned his craft in the 1920s with a touring company and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. In 1931 he joined the Old Vic, playing Shakespearean roles, he led the company the following season, succeeding Gielgud, who had taught him much about stage technique. After he left the company, a series of leading roles took him to stardom in the West End and on Broadway. In the 1940s, together with Olivier and John Burrell, Richardson was the co-director of the Old Vic company. There, his most celebrated roles included Peer Falstaff, he and Olivier led the company to Europe and Broadway in 1945 and 1946, before their success provoked resentment among the governing board of the Old Vic, leading to their dismissal from the company in 1947.
In the 1950s, in the West End and on tour, Richardson played in modern and classic works including The Heiress, Home at Seven, Three Sisters. He continued in films until shortly before his sudden death at the age of eighty, he was celebrated in years for his work with Peter Hall's National Theatre and his frequent stage partnership with Gielgud. He was not known for his portrayal of the great tragic roles in the classics, preferring character parts in old and new plays. Richardson's film career began as an extra in 1931, he was soon cast in leading roles in British and American films including Things to Come, The Fallen Idol, Long Day's Journey into Night and Doctor Zhivago. He received nominations and awards in the UK, Europe and the US for his stage and screen work from 1948 until his death. Richardson was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, first for The Heiress and again for his final film, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Throughout his career, in years, Richardson was known for his eccentric behaviour on and off stage.
He was seen as detached from conventional ways of looking at the world, his acting was described as poetic or magical. Richardson was born in Cheltenham, the third son and youngest child of Arthur Richardson and his wife Lydia; the couple had met. Arthur Richardson had been senior art master at Cheltenham Ladies' College from 1893. In 1907 the family split up; the ostensible cause of the couple's separation was a row over Lydia's choice of wallpaper for her husband's study. According to John Miller's biography, whatever underlying causes there may have been are unknown. An earlier biographer, Garry O'Connor, speculates that Arthur Richardson might have been having an extramarital affair. There does not seem to have been a religious element, although Arthur was a dedicated Quaker, whose first two sons were brought up in that faith, whereas Lydia was a devout convert to Roman Catholicism, in which she raised Ralph. Mother and son had a variety of homes, the first of, a bungalow converted from two railway carriages in Shoreham-by-Sea on the south coast of England.
Lydia wanted Richardson to become a priest. In Brighton he served as an altar boy, which he enjoyed, but when sent at about fifteen to the nearby Xaverian College, a seminary for trainee priests, he ran away; as a pupil at a series of schools he was uninterested in most subjects and was an indifferent scholar. His Latin was poor, during church services he would improvise parts of the Latin responses, developing a talent for invention when memory failed that proved useful in his career. In 1919, aged sixteen, Richardson took a post as office boy with the Brighton branch of the Liverpool Victoria insurance company; the pay, ten shillings a week, was attractive. His paternal grandmother died and left him £500, which, he said, transformed his life, he resigned from the office post, just in time to avoid being dismissed, enrolled at the Brighton School of Art. His studies there convinced him that he lacked creativity, that his drawing skills were not good enough. Richardson left the art school in 1920, considered how else he might make a career.
He thought of pharmacy and of journalism, abandoning each when he learned how much study the former required and how difficult mastering shorthand for the latter would be. He was still unsure what to do, he was thrilled, felt at once that he must become an actor. Buttressed by what was left of the legacy from his grandmother, Richardson determined to learn to act, he paid a local theatrical manager, Frank R. Growcott, ten shillings a week to take him as a member of his company and to teach him the craft of an actor, he made his stage debut in December 1920 with Growcott's St Nicholas Players at the St Nicholas Hall, Brighton, a converted bacon factory. He played a gendarme in an adaptation of Les Misérables and was soon entrusted with larger parts, including Banquo in Macbeth and Malvolio in Twelfth Night; the heyday of the touring ac