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John Anderson (1882-1958)

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John Anderson (1882-1958) who gave his name to the Anderson Shelter

John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley, GCB, OM, GCSI, FRS, GCIE, PC, PC (Ireland) (8 July 1882 - 4 January 1958) was a British civil servant and politician who is best known for his service in the Cabinet during the Second World War, for which he was nicknamed The Home Front Prime Minister. He served as Home Secretary, Lord President of the Council and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Anderson shelters are named after him.


1958 Obituary [1]

A BACKGROUND of education in the sciences has not often, in the past, been favourable to success in public life. Since that fact has often been raised in criticism of custom, it is particularly pertinent to recall that such a background was enjoyed by one of the most prominent and able of British administrators, Lord Waverley, who died on January 4, at the age of seventy-five. The Times says of him that "no single adverse criticism can justly be recorded of his administrative capacity or his cool judgment."

John Anderson was born at Eskbank, Midlothian, in 1882, and educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University, and Leipzig University. He had a distinguished early career in the civil service, and held many important posts. He was knighted in 1919.

In the nineteen twenties he was under-secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and later permanent Under Secretary of State at the Home Office.

In 1932 he became Governor of Bengal, and was particularly successful in furthering the stability and progress of that region at a critical time.

When his term of office was over, he became, in 1938, the Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities. Governmental appointments-as Lord Privy Seal, Secretary of State and Minister of Home Security, and later as Chancellor of the Exchequer-followed through the war years.

His name is associated particularly with his work at this time, which included the introduction of the Anderson shelter: this was evolved to meet a requirement for a shelter that could be erected with a minimum of skill in any garden and would be cheap to mass-produce. The final product, to the designs of the late Sir William Paterson, composed chiefly of corrugated steel sheets, was familiar throughout the country.

But it is in the later stages of his career that Sir John Anderson's work became of especial interest to engineers. He was the member of the War Cabinet carrying responsibility for scientific research bearing on the war, including applications of nuclear physics. Amongst the many honours which he received, Fellowship of the Royal Society may be especially noted here, an award which was in recognition of this wartime work.

The post-war phase of Viscount Waverley's career (he was raised to the peerage in 1952) is of special interest to the engineering world. He became chairman of the Port of London Authority in 1946, a position he held until his death, and was also chairman of the committee set up in March, 1953, to inquire into the causes of the storm and tidal surge which wrought such severe damage and loss of life earlier that year. He showed especial interest in the civil engineering aspects of the work of both the Waverley Committee and of the P.L.A., and was generally present when their work was discussed at Institution meetings, to which he also contributed in discussion. Lord Waverley will also be recalled with affection by the many delegates to the Nineteenth International Navigation Congress held in London last July, for he was president of the British organising committee of the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses, and of the Congress itself.

The Order of Merit was conferred upon Lord Waverley less than a month ago. He was then in hospital, where the insignia of the order was handed to him by the Queen's private secretary.


1958 Obituary [2]



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