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British Industrial History

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Ernest Walter Hives

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Ernest Walter Hives (1886–1965) of Rolls-Royce

1886 April 21st. Born at 20 Cholmeley Road, Earley, Reading, the twelfth child of John William Hives, a factory clerk, of Reading, and his wife, Mary Washbourne.

Educated at Redlands School, Reading.

1903 After working in a Reading garage, Hives worked for C. S. Rolls and Co

Joined Napier and was there for three years

1908 Joined Rolls-Royce and was there for fifty years.

1913 January 29th. Married Gertrude Ethel (c1891–1961), daughter of John Alfred Warwick, a merchant navy captain, and his wife, Caroline Drusilla. They had four sons and three daughters.

1920 Appointed MBE

1930s Chief Experimental Engineer

1935 Awarded a gold medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society

1943 Appointed a Companion of Honour

1946 Appointed MD of Rolls-Royce

1950 Made a Baron

1957 Retires from Rolls-Royce

1965 April 24th. Lord Hives died age 79


1965 Obituary [1]

Lord Hives, CH (Hon. Member), died recently after a long illness. He was 79.

Formerly Chairman of Rolls-Royce, Lord Hives was responsible for the development of the Merlin engine which played such a large part in winning the Battle of Britain. In the 1930's the effort which he concentrated on liquid cooling for aero engines gave them supremacy over air-cooled types, particularly for fighter planes. The Merlin was used in such famous aircraft as the Hurricane and the Spitfire.

Starting work in the motor business of C. S. Rolls, Lord Hives soon demonstrated that he was a born engineer. He joined Rolls-Royce in 1908 and was behind many of its technical advances. His practical experience and sixth sense for the way things should be done, in addition to his dedicated attitude to his work, made him an inspiring leader. He was Chairman of the Company for many years, retiring in 1957.

Other interests included Chairmanship of the Industrial Development Board of Malta and of the National Council for Academic Awards.

His death robs aviation of an outstanding man and an engineering giant.


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