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British Industrial History

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Cecil Kimber

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Cecil Kimber (1888-1945).

Cecil Kimber (1888-1945) was an automobile engineer, most famous for his role in being the driving force behind the MG company.

1888 April 12th. Born in London to Henry Kimber, a printing engineer, and his wife Fanny.

1901 Living at 26 Moorfield Grove, Heaton Norris. Henry F, Kimber (age 42 born Brickston, London), a Printing Ink Manufacturer and Employer. With his wife Fannie N. Kimber (age 42 born Huddersfield) and their children Cecil Kimber (age 12 born Dulwich), Phyllis Kimber (age 11 born Merton) and Vernon Kimber (age 6 born Streatham). One servant. [1]

After attending Stockport Grammar School he joined his father's company and took an early interest in motor cycles buying a Rex model, but after an accident on a friend's machine that severely damaged his right leg he took to cars and in 1913 bought a 10hp Singer.

1911 Listed as a patient at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Chorlton-upon-Medlock (age 22 born Dulwich), an Assistant Manager at Printing Works. [2]

This interest caused him to leave the family firm in 1914 and get a job with Sheffield-Simplex as assistant to the chief designer.

During World War 1 he moved first to AC Cars and then to component supplier E. G. Wrigley and Co. He made a large personal financial investment in Wrigleys but he lost this when the company lost heavily on a deal with Angus Sanderson and Co for whom he had styled their radiator.

1921 Kimber got a job as Sales manager with Morris Garages, their agency in Oxford.

1923 Wrigley had also been a major supplier to Morris and was bought by them

1922 Became General Manager

Moves home from Clifton Hampden to a house in Banbury Road, Oxford

Moves to 339 Woodstock Road, Oxford

1928 While there he developed a range of special bodies for Morris cars eventually leading to the founding of M.G. as a separate marque specialising in sports cars.

1929 The new company moved from Oxford to Abingdon

1930 July. Kimber became managing director. The main shareholder was William Morris

1935 M.G. to Morris Motors which meant Kimber was no longer in sole control and had to take instructions from head office leading to him becoming increasingly disillusioned with his role.

With the outbreak of World War II, car production stopped and at first M.G. was reduced to making basic items for the armed forces

1941 Kimber obtained contract work on aircraft but this was done without first obtaining approval and he resigned

He soon found other work first with coach-builder Charlesworth Bodies and then with specialist piston maker Specialloid.

1945 February. Death. Cecil Kimber (Kim), husband of Gillie. Resident at Rose Cottage, Barham Avenue, Elstree, Herts. [3][4]

Kimber was killed in a freak railway accident at King's Cross railway station, London. The wheels of the train on which he was travelling kept slipping on a newly replaced section of rail forcing the driver to pull to a stop in a tunnel. Unable to see in the darkness, the driver was unaware that the train had in fact started to slip back down the hill. A signalman, attempting to avert a collision with another train, decided to switch the points - however the train was already too far back down the track. With the front and rear of the final carriage effectively running on different parallel lines there was nothing that anyone could do to prevent a collision with a metal signal gantry which proceeded to slice the overturned coach in two. Kimber was one of only two casualties.

Cecil Kimber married twice, first to Irene (Rene) Hunt with whom he had two daughters, Lisa and Jean, and after Irene died in 1938 to Muriel Dewar.

He was elected as President of the Automobile Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


1944/45 Obituary [5]

Cecil Kimber was born in 1888.

He became well known throughout the Industry in connection with the development of the M.G. car - he seas Managing Director of the M.G. Car Company for many years.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1932, and Member of Council in 1938.

He died following a railway accident on 4th February, 1945, at the age of 57. Further details of his career were published in the Journal for March, 1945.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1901 Census
  2. 1911 census
  3. The Times, Monday, Feb 05, 1945
  4. The Times, Friday, Feb 09, 1945
  5. 1944/45 Institution of Automobile Engineers: Obituaries