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British Industrial History

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Eric Geddes

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Sir Eric Campbell Geddes, (1875-1937), politician and businessman, was born at Agra, India, on 26 September 1875, the second of five children of Auckland Campbell Geddes, civil engineer, of Edinburgh and his wife, Christina Helen Macleod (nee Anderson).

1881 C. Helen M. Geddes 30, wife of A. C. Geddes, lived in Hampstead with A.M.C. Geddes 8, Eric C. Geddes 5, M.C. Geddes 3, A.C. Geddes 1[1]

1900 Married Ada Gwendolin Stokes in Bombay

1904 joined the North Eastern Railway in its traffic apprenticeship scheme

1907 Became chief goods manager

1911 Eric Geddes 35, chief goods manager of a railway company, lived in Knaresborough with Gwendolen Geddes 34, Acland Geddes 3, Magnus Geddes 2[2]

His rigorous attention to statistical data was used to improve the volume of traffic and control operating costs in one of the more advanced British managed companies at the time.

1911 Geddes became deputy general manager of NER

1915 Became deputy director of munitions supply responsible for the supply of rifles, machine guns, field guns, motor lorries, field kitchens. Became responsible for the new national filling factories. Geddes headed a semi-autonomous organization of managers and statisticians, many of whom were NER staff.

1916 Knighted

Haig demanded his appointment as director-general of transportation in France, which he did alongside his role a director-general of military railways at the War Office. Constructed an extensive light railway system to ensure that shells were rapidly transported to the front as well as detailed surveys of other transport facilities such as ports.

1917 Right Hon Sir Eric Campbell Geddes KCB was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Lloyd George appointed Geddes controller of the navy with responsibility for Admiralty dock facilities and shipyards so he was briefly both vice-admiral and major-general at the same time. As political head of the Admiralty he became Unionist member of parliament for Cambridge University and, subsequently, was sworn of the privy council

Post-WWI Wielded the Geddes Axe to reduce public expenditure

1919-20 President of the Institute of Transport

1921 Geddes was the last "businessman-in-government" when he left in August

1922 Geddes left the House of Commons in February and 3 months later joined the board of directors of the Dunlop Rubber Co. In December he became chairman.

1923-5 Geddes was president of the Federation of British Industries

1924 he became part-time chairman of Imperial Airways on a one day per week basis, although this commitment grew in later years.

After 1924 he initiated a policy of acquisitions at Dunlop to diversify the product range beyond tyres to general rubber products. The productive capacity of Fort Dunlop near Birmingham was greatly extended in the years 1925–8 and Geddes paid particular attention to manufacturing layout, time and motion studies, and the exploration of management ideas.

Geddes had a combative approach to the defence of Dunlop's interests in dialogue with governments. Lloyd George concluded that Geddes was ‘one of the most remarkable products of the great War’.

1937 Geddes died at his country house, Albourne Place, near Hassocks, Sussex, on 22 June 1937 after a long illness, his wife dying in 1945

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1881 census
  2. 1911 census