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Leonard Sumner

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Leonard Sumner (1870-1942), Chairman and Managing Director of the Broughton Copper Co

1942 Obituary [1]

In the passing of Leonard Sumner, M.Sc., O.B.E., J.P., on May 14, 1942, members will lament the loss of a great friend of the Institute.

Born in 1870, he was the second son of William Sumner of Butt Hill, Prestwich, Lancashire. He was educated at Clifton College, and, after three years as an engineering apprentice, he went to Manchester University and took an Honours Degree in Engineering.

Following experience under Dr. Gowland at the Royal School of Mines, he joined the staff of the Broughton Copper Company, of which he was Chairman and Managing Director from 1906 until his retirement in 1932.

During the last war he served his country in the industrial field without sparing himself or his Company, and was frequently consulted on the raw copper situation by the Government. He also took a deep interest in a military hospital and in 1918 was awarded the O.B.E. His early training gave every opportunity to fit him for high industrial office, and his record shows how well he made use of it.

His interest in the Institute was profound, commencing with his association with Dr. Carpenter and other pioneers in Manchester, where, in fact, the idea to establish the Institute germinated. He was an original member and served on the Council from 1908 and on many of its committees. He was a Vice-President from 1915 to 1922 and President in 1922-1924, being the second industrialist to hold that office. In the early and difficult days of the Institute, his wise guidance did much to make it the thriving organization it had become when he was President. His generous initial gift of £1000 to the House Fund is well remembered by those at that time associated with him.

His main industrial activities centred round the Broughton Copper Company, Ltd. He was interested in every phase of the business: he developed the Ditton Smelting Works at Widnes from small beginnings to a most important adjunct to the main works at Broughton, and was largely instrumental in the absorption of the old firm of copper plate and sheet manufacturers, John Bibby and Company, of Garston. Mr. Sumner always insisted on the highest standards of quality and workmanship as then known, and no commodity was allowed to leave the works unless it complied with that standard. A leader of men, he created in the Company an esprit de corps of which the Company was so justly proud. Workers all knew their Chief, and in any difficulties connected with labour his broad-minded outlook smoothed the way to a satisfactory settlement.

Deeply interested in the non-ferrous industry as a whole, he was Chairman of the Brass and Copper Tube Association about the year 1908, his contemporaries in those days being C. Y. R. Bedford, Tom Bolton, Neville Chamberlain, F. Douglas Everitt, William Gibbins, John Grice, Edward Mapplebeck, J. B. Mercer, Sir Gerard Muntz, and Alfred Wenham (Secretary of the Association).

In sport, he was a good Rugby half-back, an old member of the Manchester Racquets Club and the Tennis and Racquets Association, and for many years President of the North Manchester Golf Club; but his favourite pastime was shooting, and many of his friends will recollect with pleasure their visits to his shoot at Church Stretton.

He was a J.P. for the city of Salford and Treasurer and Deputy Chairman of the Salford Royal Hospital, to which he was a most generous benefactor.

In his varied and full life he endeared himself to a large circle of friends - to rich and to poor - for success in life only brought out his very human and modest nature, and he was ever the friend of those with whom life had gone hard. Many will remember in varied ways his helping hand. For the last few years of his life Mr. Sumner sought the more genial climate of Devon, and Manchester saw but little of him, though up to almost the end he retained his interest in life and little escaped the incisive mind of a man whose high character had earned the affection of many and the respect of all who knew him. He married a few years ago and is survived by his widow. - E. A. MERCER.

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