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British Industrial History

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Alfred Frederick Bird

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Sir Alfred Frederick Bird, first baronet (1849–1922), food manufacturer

1849 Born in Birmingham, on 27 July 1849, son of Alfred Bird, FCS (bap. 1811, d. 1878), and his wife, Elizabeth Lavinia Ragg

On leaving King Edward's School, Birmingham in 1867 he entered his father's business, and helped to launch Bird's blancmange powder, in 14 flavours.

As a youth he had been a good athlete, and was given a penny-farthing bicycle on his nineteenth birthday; later, he broke the record for tricycling from Land's End to John o' Groats.

In 1875 he married Eleanor Frances, eldest daughter of Robert Lloyd Evans, a tobacconist, of Handsworth. They had four sons and two daughters.

1878 Alfred senior died. Alfred junior ran the firm jointly with his brother, Charles Bird, who retired a few years later and died soon after.

As sole owner, Bird at once planned a modern factory, with up-to-date machinery, to replace the outdated premises.

1880 To market his rapidly increasing output, as early as 1880 Bird was using pictorial advertisements, the speciality of his London agent, T. B. Browne, who gave Bird's products an equally colourful image to those of his other clients, Cadburys and Pears.

1886 After demand began to soar he opened an even larger factory on a new site; this burnt down a year later, and he had a specially designed works erected.

He then diversified into other convenience foods, such as an egg substitute in 1890, jelly crystals in 1895, and tablet jellies a few years later. Although he continued to make some toiletries and chemist's products, they were not compatible with foodstuffs, and were discontinued after 1905.

1894 Director of Rudge-Whitworth. Of The Firs, Moseley. [1]

A pioneer motorist, he became a founder member of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland in 1897.

1900 Bird and two of his four sons, Robert Bland Bird (1876-1960) and Geoffrey Bird, registered the company Alfred Bird and Sons Ltd.

1904 BIRD, Alfred F., Indon Grange. Solihull, Warwickshire. Cars: 4.5 h.p. Renault, 6 h.p. Panhard, 15 h.p. Panhard, 24-h.p. Mors, 18-h.p. Mercedes, 18-h.p. Mors. Hobbies: Mountaineering and cycling. Aims at touring and learning all about the beauties of one's own country; promotion of communication between town and country. Thinks the development of motoring may result in a great improvement in the making of enlarged roads, and the general condition of carriageways. Clubs: Devonshire, Alpine, Constitutional, Conservative (Birmingham) and A.C.G.B. & I. [2]

1905 Bird retired from the chairmanship and as managing director.

1906 He stood as a Conservative for Wednesbury in the general election, but lost rather badly.

1910 Elected for Wolverhampton West, he held the seat until he died.

1922 He was knocked down by a car, while crossing Piccadilly, and died on the 7th of February 1922, in St George's Hospital, Knightsbridge, London.

1903 Bio Note [3]

BIRD, ALFRED F.- Is a successful Birmingham manufacturer. He was well known as an amateur cyclist, and was the winner of several races, at one time holding the twenty-four hours' record. He is an alpine climber of considerable experience, and a member of the Alpine Club. In the early days of motoring in England he took to a Bollee. He then acquired Mr. Rolls' 6 h.p. Panhard; later, a 12 h.p. Panhard, and then a 24 h.p. Mors, and now a 15 h.p. Panhard. He was for some time Chairman of the Races Committee of the A.C.G.B.I., which he joined as a Founder Member, on December 15th, 1897. He has been a member of the Club Committee since August 9th, 1898. He was one of the guarantors in the early days of the Club, and is a debenture holder.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Birmingham Daily Post, Monday, November 5, 1894
  2. Motoring Annual and Motorist’s Year Book 1904
  3. 1903/02/26 Automobile Club Journal