b.15 August 1898 d.12 October 1978
Kt(1958) FCA(1921) Hon FRCP(1977)
Halford Walter Lupton Reddish was the embodiment of the bold, if autocratic, entrepreneur who preached and practised in industry the principles of free enterprise. He was educated at Rugby School and served in the Army during the first world war. On demobilization he was articled to accountancy. By 1920 he had become gold medallist and institute prizeman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, of which he eventually became a Fellow. He made a special study of insurance, which led him into the service of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company and subsequently to its board in London. He was also an underwriting member of Lloyd’s. Besides an early association with the cement industry, he was interested in engineering and metallurgy. He became chairman of the Trussed Concrete Steel Company and Charles Nelson and Company, and director of the Meldrum Investment Trust and of Granada Theatres. He was a valued member of the Dollar Exports Council and led a mission to Canada in 1957. He was knighted in 1958.
As chairman and chief executive of the Rugby Portland Cement Company and its subsidiary companies, from 1933 to 1976, he became a spokesman for his chosen industry, especially in the Midlands, but in a wider sense for the industry of the country as a whole, which he vigorously defended against growing nationalization.
Halford Reddish married Valerie, elder daughter of Dr Arthur Grosart Lehman Smith. She died in 1971, a year after he had presented £5 million to establish a medical research trust in his name at the King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, for research on diseases of the heart and lungs.
For all his short stature (5 '3") he gave the impression of being a big man, with strong features and heavy reinforced spectacles. It was once written of him that his passionate defence of free enterprise made the Institute of Directors - on whose Council he had sat since 1948 -‘look like the Left Book Club’. He had his foibles: the Churchillian rate of cigar-smoking, the booked double seat in the aircraft, and the splendidly groomed appearance of the traditional professional man. He was known to a wide circle of friends as a man of culture, with a lively appreciation of art, and he was an accomplished chess player.
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
[Times, 14 Oct 1978]
(Volume VII, page 488)
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