Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Harry Duncan McGowan

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Sir Harry McGowan (1874–1961) of ICI

Harry Duncan McGowan, 1st Baron McGowan KBE (3 June 1874 – 13 July 1961), was a prominent British businessman.

McGowan was the only son of Harry McGowan and his wife Agnes (née Wilson), and was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School and Allan Glen's School, Glasgow.

He joined Nobel's Explosives Company as an office boy at the age of fifteen and worked his way up to professional manager.

During the First World War McGowan carried out a merger of most of the British explosives industry, and in 1918 he became Chairman and Managing Director of Explosives Trade Ltd (from 1920 known as Nobel Industries Ltd).

In 1926 this company merged with Brunner Mond, the United Alkali Company and the British Dyestuffs Corporation to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

He succeeded Lord Melchett as Chairman and Managing Director in 1930 and remained Chairman until 1950. McGowan was appointed a KBE in 1928 and 0n 24 February 1937 he was raised to the peerage as Baron McGowan, of Ardeer in the County of Ayr.

Lord McGowan married Jean, daughter of William Young, in 1903. They had two sons and two daughters. He died in July 1961, aged 87, and was succeeded in the barony by his eldest son Harry.

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