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British Industrial History

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Harold Montague Finniston

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(Harold) Monty Finniston (1912–1991), metallurgist and businessman

1912 born in Glasgow, the eldest child of Robert Finniston and his wife, Esther, née Diamond.

Attended Allan Glen's School and Glasgow University. Graduated in metallurgical chemistry and then took a PhD on the combustibility of coke at the Royal College of Science and Technology, Glasgow

1933-5 lecturer at the Royal College of Science and Technology

1935-7 Metallurgist with Stewarts and Lloyds

1936 Married Miriam Singer they had a son, Michael, and a daughter, Barbara.

1937-40 Chief research officer at the Scottish Coke Committee.

1940-6 Metallurgist with the the Royal Naval Scientific Service, firstly in Sheffield, working on the quality and design of naval guns before specializing in bomb-casing design and torpedo development.

Post-War: he was sent with a team of British scientists to the top secret nuclear project at Chalk River in Canada to work on applying nuclear power to submarine propulsion.

1948 Appointed chief metallurgist of the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell where he worked on many leading edge metallurgical questions, especially those concerned with nuclear radiation. As far as Finniston was concerned, a rational and effective work pattern required a mutually co-operating team. At Harwell he recruited and led a young team of research scientists drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. None had any prior experience of nuclear power, let alone of the new materials that were just emerging.

1959 Technical director at C. A. Parsons and Co, in charge of a large new laboratory that Parsons had built to serve as the nuclear research centre for the Nuclear Power Plant Co.

1962 he persuaded the Parsons' board to convert the whole research operation into the International Research and Development Co (IRDC), which broadened the work beyond the nuclear field. Finniston tried to steer both government and private industry into the new world of technological advance.

1962-77 Managing director of IRDC

1966 Joined a government committee planning the renationalization of the steel industry

1967 Joined the new British Steel Corporation as a deputy chairman in charge of technical and research development.

1968-77 Chairman of IRDC.

1969 Elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

1969 Deputy Chairman of the British Steel Corporation.[1]

1971 Chief executive of British Steel. Continued to work under the Conservative Government to rationalise and modernise the steel industry.

1973 Chairman of British Steel.

1975 created BSC (Industry) to help retrain redundant steel workers and to find them alternative jobs in new industries which Finniston encouraged to come into the areas of steel closures.

1975 He was knighted

1976 Under the Labour government his term of office was not extended.

1977-80 Chaired a government enquiry into the engineering profession and its future. The report offered a blueprint for the future of British industry, not just for the engineering profession, arguing for regeneration of UK manufacturing competitiveness ... emphasis on developing market-orientated engineering excellence but the new Conservative government turned down Finniston's key proposal to establish a statutory engineering authority with wide powers to train a new generation of engineers.

1978 Elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

1983 Elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

1991 Died in London

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1969/08/07
  • Biography, ODNB