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British Industrial History

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Henry George Nelson

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(Henry) George Nelson (1917-1995), second Baron Nelson of Stafford, of the English Electric Co, engineer and businessman

1917 Born in Stretford, Manchester, the only son and younger child of George Horatio Nelson, first Baron Nelson of Stafford (1887–1962), engineer and industrialist, and his wife, Florence Mabel (1888–1962), only daughter of Henry Howe JP for Leicestershire.

Educated at Oundle and King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1937.

1939 After spending some time in France and Switzerland, he went to work in the English Electric factory at Preston. He has in fact spent his whole working life associated in one way or another with that company and in the post-war years has had much to do with its development into a leading manufacturer of military aircraft and equipment.

He first joined the English Electric Preston team as works superintendent. The following year he became assistant works manager and in 1941, deputy works manager.

1942 When English Electric took over the Napier company Nelson became its managing director - a post he held until 1949 when he was appointed deputy managing director of the parent English Electric company. More recently he became its managing director and chairman of English Electric Aviation. And, following the various rearrangements concerned with the absorption of English Electric Aviation into the British Aircraft Corporation, he has also been appointed deputy chairman of the Corporation.

In addition to his active concern with English Electric and B.A.C. affairs, Mr Nelson has been industrial leader and vice-chairman of the Governments's Advisory Council on Middle East Trade since 1959. Between 1955 and 1958 he was a member of the Lord President's Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. He was recently appointed a Director of the Bank of England; and has been a member of the SBAC Council since 1943. He has been vice-president of the Society for the past 12 months."[1]

1961 elected president of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors for 1961-62.

1962 When his father died, Nelson was appointed chairman and chief executive of English Electric.

During the next six years Nelson was responsible for modernizing the management structure of the company, devolving responsibility to the heads of different product groups, but he did not promote younger men, preferring to retain his father's key advisers. Under Nelson the company moved into the civil nuclear power field as part of the consortium forming the Atomic Power Construction Company Ltd, which built the Sizewell 'A' and Hinkley Point 'A' nuclear power stations. The company also expanded into the growth areas of computers and electronics, especially after the acquisition of Elliott Automation in 1967.

1960 English Electric had tried to merge with the General Electric Company (GEC) in 1960 in order to increase the light electrical side of its business, but the talks had broken down.

1967 Nelson fought off a bid from the Plessey Co but in 1968 agreed, under pressure from the government, to be taken over by GEC in order to rationalize the heavy electrical industry. Nelson was appointed chairman of the newly merged company but Weinstock was clearly in charge - of the eleven senior managers appointed, ten were from GEC or AEI.

1995 Died in Stafford Clinic.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Aeroplane and Astronautics Magazine 1961/07/06
  • Biography of Henry George Nelson, ODNB