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British Industrial History

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Leonard Percy Lord

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Leonard Percy Lord, 1st Baron Lambury KBE (15 November 1896 – 13 September 1967) was a captain of the British motor industry.

1896 Born in Coventry the son of William Lord, Superintendent of the Public Baths (and later a publican) and his wife Emma, Matron of the Public Baths.

Lord was educated at Bablake in Coventry.

1911 Living at the Hope & Archer Inn, 17 White Friars Lane, Coventry: William Lord (age 43 born Coventry), Licensed Victualler, Brewer. With his wife Emma Lord (age 47 born Coventry) and their two children Annie Florence Lord (age 22 born Coventry) and Leonard Percy Lord (age 14 born Coventry).[1]

Between 1914 and 1918 he worked Coventry Ordnance Works

After the War he worked in a manufacturing plant for Daimler engines.

1922 Joined Hotchkiss, which made power units for Morris cars.

1923 Hotchkiss was taken over and renamed Morris Engines. Lord was tasked with purchasing and commissioning the updated equipment required.

1927 After Morris had purchased the bankrupt Wolseley, Lord moved there to rationalise all stages of the production process.

1932 Lord was promoted to General Manager at Morris, working from the Cowley factory.

1933 May. Appointed MD of Morris

1936 August. After many years of conflict with William Morris, Lord left

Travelled abroad for some time

1937 January. Appointed manager of a £2 million Nuffield Trust for Special Areas for William Morris

1938 Left to join Morris's chief competitor, Austin.

At that time, Herbert Austin was looking for somebody to direct his company, his only son having been killed during the War. Ultimately, Lord was selected to manage the company.

1946 Lord became Chairman of Austin and moved the company to a resumption of civil motor-vehicle production.

In 1954 he was awarded the KBE.

Through further mergers and acquisitions, Lord ultimately became president of the British Motor Corporation.

He died in 1967, aged 71, during the discussions which ultimately formed British Leyland Motor Corporation. Despite his early career success, his legacy was a sprawling and unprofitable product range, weak distribution and feeble management - ills which took their toll on BL.

1967 Obituary [2]

Lord Lambury, KBE (Member) Honorary President of BMC, died on 13th September aged 71.

A Coventry man, Lord Lambury (the former Sir Leonard Lord) joined Morris Engines Ltd in 1923 and it was in 1927 that Lord Nuffield asked him to reorganise their Wolseley works. This led to Lord Lambury's appointment as Managing Director of Morris Motors, Wolseley and MG. He was later appointed to administer the £2m Nuffield trust fund for towns that had been affected by the Depression and in 1938 was made Works Manager of the Austin Motor Company.

The Institution has lost a distinguished Member and friend with his death.

Notes and Opinions

In a review of the Longbridge operation, Graham Searjeant, Financial Editor of The Times (31 May 2007) notes that Lord was a "foul-mouthed, hard-driving production man". Searjeant credits some of the failures at Longbridge to Lord's "lack of vision" and the "inadequacy" of his protege-successor, George Harriman. However it was Lord who persuaded Alec Issigonis to rejoin BMC to create what became the Mini and the 1100, Austin/BMC's two most successful products. That Issigonis had the freedom to create such revolutionary cars is thanks to the mandate given to him by Lord.

Gillian Bardsley, Archivist of the British Motor Heritage Trust, in her biography of Alec Issigonis, credits Lord with the vision that BMC needed an entirely new range of cars if it was to remain competitive into the 1960s.

Martyn Nutland, who wrote a biography of Leonard Lord, takes a different view to Sergeant. He credits Lord with being, arguably, the greatest British industrialist, in any field, of the latter half of the 20th century. Points up his considerable achievements; such as providing Morris with the top-selling car of the pre-War era, providing the nation with an enormous and extremely diverse range of vehicles, aircraft and other equipment with which to fight WWII, and points out that Lord earned more dollars for Britain in its life or death struggle for economic survival than any other British industrialist. Nutland explains that it was Leonard Lord who conceived and made the execution of the original Mini possible, not Alec Issigonis. He was in Nutland's view a ruthlessly dynamic industrial genius of exceptional vision beset by debilitating political and industrial relations circumstances.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Biography of Leonard Lord, ODNB [2]