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British Industrial History

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Percival Lea Dewhurst Perry

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Percival Lea Dewhurst Perry, 1st Baron Perry, KBE (1878–1956) was the first chairman of Ford of Britain Limited and of the Slough Trading Co.

1878 March 18th. Born in Bristol the son of Alfred Thomas Perry, Merchant's Book-keeper at Soap Factory, and his wife Elizabeth

He won a scholarship to King Edward's School, Birmingham

1902 Married at Hull to Catherine Meals

He first worked in a lawyer's office, but then moved to work in the motor industry.

1904 Aubrey Blakiston established Ford's first British agency - the Central Motor Car Co in Long Acre, London.

1905 Perry joined the company as a minority shareholder and, after Blakiston's departure, he became managing director in 1906. He travelled to Detroit to seek investment in the company from Henry Ford. Although the mission was unsuccessful, good relationships were established.

By 1908, the Central Motor Company was in trouble, despite bringing in new partners and finance. Perry left the company, and briefly imported and sold REO cars. When Ford decided to pursue direct investment in Britain, he contacted Perry who in 1909 was appointed manager of a Ford branch company for Britain.

1911 Living at 81 St George's Square, London: Percival Lea Dewhurst Perry (age 33 born Bristol), Managing Director Automobile Co. With his wife Catherine Perry (age 35 born Liverpool). Also his sister-in-law Mabel Mary Meals (age 24 born Liverpool).[1]

1911 As effective head of Ford in Britain, Perry opened Ford's first factory outside North America in Trafford Park, Manchester.

1916 Formed Automobiles Ford in Paris to take over Ford operations in France.

1916-18 Assistant Controller of the UK Government's Agricultural Machinery Department. Ford supplied many vehicles to the war effort.

1917 Appointed CBE and was knighted (KBE) in 1918.

Although successful in protecting Ford's UK position, Perry's active involvement in wartime British politics did not play well with Ford's head office in Detroit. In 1919, he was sacked. Ford's British operations were run by managers sent from Detroit until 1928.

Free from involvement with Ford, Perry was available to lead the consortium which in 1920 purchased the Slough military motor transport depot which became the Slough Trading Estate. In 1922 - 1923, he persuaded Andre Citroen to begin building cars on the Slough Trading Estate.

In the meantime, Ford's Detroit based management of Ford of Britain had not been successful. In 1928, Perry was recalled to develop the new plant at Dagenham, and to head Ford's operations in all Europe.

In 1938 Perry was created 1st Baron Perry.

1956 June 17th. Died in the Bahama Islands

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1911 Census