Highgate man who built film sets for Alfred Hitchcock celebrates 100th birthday

A film set designer from Highgate who had a successful partnership with Alfred Hitchcock has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Carpenter Leslie Veitch, who spent most of his career creating West End theatre sets, was drafted in to work with the pioneering filmmaker in the 1930s.

Mr Veitch, of Muswell Hill Road, worked on all of Hitchcock’s films before he left for America – including the 1935 adaption of John Buchan’s novel The 39 Steps.

Veitch’s granddaughter, El Jones, a web developer from Allison Road in Hornsey, said: “Before Hitchcock went to America, he worked on all of his films,

“They had a working relationship and my grandfather always has a fun story about it.”

For the centenarian set designing was the family business, with his six brothers following their father into stage production.

His siblings worked on set-building for the BBC, while Mr Veitch plied his trade in some of the capital’s greatest playhouses.

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The 100-year-old, who was born in Camden Town on March 10, 1912, said: “I used to love it, just building things up and taking it back down.

“So many nice people, it was marvellous.”

Around the same time that his partnership with Hitchcock came to an end, Mr Veitch was called upon to make aircraft during the Second World War.

His 37-year-old granddaughter said: “He made a lot of bombers, but he did not actually like that. He was having to work with metals when actually he was far more comfortable with wood.”

After the war Mr Veitch returned to the boards and worked on almost every show going.

But as the demand for his work slowed, the skilled craftsman turned his mind to interior design, before putting down his tools for good.

Speaking at celebrations in Cranley Dene Court on Friday (March 9), his granddaughter said: “I lived with him from when I was two until I was 10-years-old.

“He was a massive part of my life and we grew very close. I have now been trained in design myself, so he has had a very, very big influence on me.”