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British Industrial History

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Ralph Wedgwood

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July 1924.

Sir Ralph Lewis Wedgwood, 1st Baronet CB CMG (2 March 1874 - 5 September 1956) was the Chief Officer of the London and North Eastern Railway for 16 years from its inauguration in 1923. Also chairman of the wartime Railway Executive Committee from September 1939 to August 1941. Knighted in 1924 and created a baronet in 1942.

Wedgwood was the son of Clement Wedgwood and his wife Emily, daughter of the engineer James Meadows Rendel. He was a great-great-grandson of the distinguished potter Josiah Wedgwood. His elder brother was Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood. He married Iris Veronica Pawson, daughter of Albert Henry Pawson on 24 October 1906 at St. Margaret's, Westminster. They had two children who survived to adulthood; John Hamilton Wedgwood (1907-1989), second baronet and Cicely Veronica Wedgwood (1910-1997), historian. A second son, Ralph Pawson Wedgwood was born and died in 1909.

He was educated at Clifton College and Trinity College, Cambridge.

An A4 Class locomotive, 4469 Sir Ralph Wedgwood, was named after him but it was destroyed by bombing during World War 2. His name was later given to A4 Class 4466.


1956 Obituary [1]

SIR RALPH WEDGWOOD, whose death occurred at Leith Hill Place, near Dorking, on September 5th, at the age of eighty-two, will be remembered by his long and distinguished career in railway management and operation. He was general manager of the London and North Eastern Railway Company from its formation in 1923 until 1939.

Sir Ralph was educated at Clifton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and joined the North Eastern Railway Company in 1896. He spent three years in the dock superintendent's office and then became an assistant in the general traffic manager's office.

In 1902, Sir Ralph was appointed district superintendent at Middlesbrough. For a short time subsequently he was secretary of the North Eastern Railway Company, and in 1911 he became assistant goods manager at York, afterwards succeeding Sir Eric Geddes as chief goods manager.

In the first world war, Sir Ralph was Director of Docks in France. After the war he returned to the North Eastern Railway as general manager. With the grouping of the railways in 1923, Sir Ralph was appointed chief general manager of the London and North Eastern Railway, a position which he relinquished in 1939 when he became chairman of the Railway Executive Committee.

Among his many other services, Sir Ralph was a member of the Weir Committee on main line electrification (1930-31) and a member of the Central Electricity Board from 1931 to 1946.


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