Anthony Hunt was the first of two sons born to a solicitor's clerk in Streatham Hill in south London. His earliest memories are of incendiary bombs that fell across London in the early days of World War II and the fires that raged across the East End dock areas.
He attended a local Catholic Convent school for a brief time before his parents decided it was too dangerous for the children to remain in the capital. Leaving his father behind in London, his mother took Anthony and his then one-month old brother to live in the countryside. They moved around from New Maldon to Burnham-on-Sea and Hazelmere, until finally settling in Farnborough, Hampshire.
Here Hunt attended the Salesian College, where he stayed until he was 16. He spent his spare time making deisel-powered model aircraft. Later he moved to Northampton Polytechnic, but he didn't complete his course; in 1947-48 he attended Westminster Technical College in London on a day release course in civil engineering.
Around this time his father arranged for him to be articled to a small firm of civil engineers in the City of London called Wheeler & Jupp. Being articled was a form of low paid apprenticeship, in this case leading to a professional qualification in civil engineering. It was a four-year obligation.
By 1951, Hunt was relieved to have completed his article-ship, which he'd found dull, and he moved on once again to work for a firm of water engineers, where he stayed for six months. There he had the good fortune to attend a week-long residential course organised by the Cement & Concrete Association. Suddenly he found himself in a stimulating environment where people debated fresh ideas about structures and technologies. It was here that Hunt first encountered some of the themes that would occupy him throughout his career, namely the engineering applications of lightweight materials and tensile structures and, more broadly, Modernist design.
Like many young men of his generation who'd grown up during the war, Hunt was hungry for a taste of the new. Impetuous, headstrong and practical, he longed for the pleasures of success fast cars, fast living. The design ideas that captured his imagination expressed a mood of urgency about the future. The country (and Hunt) had waited long enough for the future to arrive, and now it was here artists, architects and designers rushed to express the freshness and optimism of the moment in ever more striking designs.
It was a mood that was brilliantly captured at that year's Festival of Britain, an event that was to play a crucial role in Hunt's early career.
references interview with Anthony Hunt
photo courtesy Anthony Hunt