Centenarian reflects on the changing face of technology as he celebrates milestone

George Smith was joined by family in Houghton for his 100th birthday. Picture: ARCHANT

George Smith was joined by family in Houghton for his 100th birthday. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

People would have been considered “barmy” if they had spoken about the high-tech equipment we now consider to be everyday items, centenarian George Smith has said.

Mr Smith, who lives in Wyton, has just marked his 100th birthday with a party for family and friends at the Three Jolly Butchers in Houghton.

"It went very well," said Mr Smith, a widower with daughters Patricia and Maralyn.

"They say that there have been more changes in the last century than there had been in the 1,000 years before that," he said. "I sometimes think it may have gone too far."

He said he had seen the development of things like space travel, being able to send and receive pictures on mobile phones which everyone carried and the power of computers, would have simply sounded too far-fetched for people to even think about.

"They would have thought you barmy to talk about it because things like that were impossible," Mr Smith said.

"My memory is pretty good and I can remember them laying the electric cables in the street for the lights in Wood Green, which replaced town gas, and television being broadcast for the first time in 1938," he said.

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Mr Smith was a schools engineer working in the Welwyn Garden City area before transferring to Cambridgeshire and making his home in Wyton with wife Peggy.

Like many people of his generation, Mr Smith could see the looming Second World War was inevitable and joined the Territorial Army, serving in a searchlight unit.

"When Neville Chamberlain came back from Hitler with his "peace for our time" paper it gave us another year to re-arm and as soon as he got back the factories were working 24/7 on rearmament. Without that we would have gone to war a year earlier when we weren't ready," Mr Smith said.

He also saw regular army service in Africa and Italy.

Mr Smith, who was a keen bowls player, finally retired at the age of 72 after going on to work for a friend.

He said he was often asked for a recipe to a long life but has come to the conclusion that our lives are mapped out for us - although he stopped smoking 20 years because it was affecting his health.