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Alfred Baldwin

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Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908) was an English businessman and Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP). He was the father of Stanley Baldwin, the Conservative Prime Minister.

1841 June 4th. Born the twelfth and posthumously-born child of George Pearce Baldwin by his second wife Sarah Chalkey Stanley.

c. 1857 Alfred Baldwin, at the age of sixteen, became a partner in the main family firm, Baldwin, Son and Co of Stourport; other family interests included worsted spinning mills at Stourport operated as Baldwin Brothers[1]. Other members of the Baldwin clan ran a carpet manufactory at Bridgnorth, and a paper mill at King's Norton.

1863 The last of the 3 founders of E. P. and W. Baldwin, William Hill Baldwin, ironmaster of Hartlebury, died in 1863. William Baldwin had also been senior partner of Baldwin, Son and Co and Baldwin Brothers of Stourport[2]. Following this, control of E. P. and W. Baldwin passed to his surviving half-brothers, Alfred, George (1826–1881) and Stanley (1828–1907). They were also Executors of William's will, where George was described as ironfounder of Wolverhampton, Stanley and Alfred were both worsted spinners of Stourport[3]. However, Stanley's bad management and drinking, combined with a trade depression, brought the firm close to bankruptcy in the late 1860s[4].

1870 Matters improved only after Alfred Baldwin raised £20,000 and bought out his brothers in September, to take sole control of E. P. and W. Baldwin, which was located at Wilden Ironworks. Alfred and his family moved from Bewdley to Wilden House overlooking the forge. He was responsible for the rapid growth of the firm and established a reputation as a benevolent employer and as a patriarch of the Wilden district[5].

1871 Alfred was described as tinplate and iron founder, worsted spinner and landowner, employing 400 hands[6].

1886 He registered a separate company, Alfred Baldwin and Co Ltd, to erect and operate a tin-plate works near Pontypool, Monmouthshire. Shares issued.

1888 Alfred's son Stanley, the future prime minister, age 21, joined his father's business.

1890 Alfred's brother, Stanley, advertised for a management position in an engineers or ironfounders. He gave his address as Manchester but expressed a preference for a position not "North of Derby". He noted himself as "sometime partner" in E. P. and W. Baldwin and Baldwin, Son and Co[7].

1892 At the general election, Alfred Baldwin was elected as MP for West Worcestershire, holding the seat until his death, when he was succeeded by his only child, Stanley Baldwin, who later became prime minister of the United Kingdom. It was noted that Alfred Baldwin was also head of Swindon Ironworks and a director of A. Kenrick and Son of West Bromwich[8].

1898 Alfred Baldwin was chairman of Alfred Baldwin and Co Ltd, head of E. P. and W. Baldwin, chairman of Blackwall Galvanised Iron Co and of Aldridge Colliery Co of Walsall, a director of Wright, Butler and Co and of Bowesfield Steel Co Ltd of Stockton-on-Tees[9].

1902 Baldwin amalgamated the various companies into Baldwins Ltd, together with other steelworks and collieries in south Wales. Alfred Baldwin had interests in E. P. and W. Baldwin, Wright, Butler and Co, Alfred Baldwin and Co, and the Blackwall Galvanised Iron Co[10].

As well as being an ironmaster, Alfred also became a director and chairman of the Great Western Railway. Other public offices held by Alfred Baldwin were those of Justice of the Peace (JP) for Staffordshire, JP for Worcestershire and Deputy Lieutenant of Worcestershire.

He married Louisa Macdonald, daughter of Reverend George Browne Macdonald, a Wesleyan minister, and Hannah Jones, on 9 August 1866. Through his wife, Baldwin was connected to three famous English artists and an even more famous writer. The eldest sister, Alice, married the art teacher John Kipling in 1865; they became engaged at Rudyard Lake, near Leek in Staffordshire -- hence, the name of their son, the writer Rudyard. In a joint wedding with her, her sister Agnes married the painter Sir Edward John Poynter. Another sister, Georgiana, married the painter Edward Coley Burne-Jones in 1860.

Alfred Baldwin paid for the construction of All Saints Church, Wilden, which was consecrated in 1880. The original windows were replaced with 14 designs by Burne-Jones between 1902 and 1914. They are mostly dedicated to members of the MacDonald, Baldwin and Burne-Jones families; one shows Stanley Baldwin setting out on life's journey accompanied by a guardian angel.

1908 February 13th. Died


Obituary 1909 [11]

. . . He was born in 1841, and from 1892 has represented the Bewdley division in Parliament. In March, 1905, he was chosen as chairman of the Great Western Railway . . . [more]


1908 Obituary [12]

ALFRED BALDWIN, M.P., was born at Stourport on 4th June 1841, being the youngest son of the late Mr. G. P. Baldwin, ironfounder, of the some town.

Having been educated at private schools, he entered upon a business career, and at the time of his death was chairman of Messrs. Baldwin's (Limited), iron and steel and galvanized and tin sheet manufacturers and colliery proprietors.

In 1892 he entered the House of Commons as Member for the Bewdley Division of Worcestershire, which constituency he represented until his death.

In March 1905 he was chosen as chairman of the Great Western Railway, upon the retirement of Earl Cawdor after his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty.

He spoke seldom in the House, and then only on agricultural or business subjects. He was a Justice of the Peace for Staffordshire and Worcestershire, and Deputy Lieutenant for the latter county, chairman of the Metropolitan Bank of England and Wales, and was associated with various colliery and other industrial enterprises.

His death took place very suddenly at his London residence from heart failure, on 13th February 1908, in his sixty-seventh year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1893.


1908 Obituary [13]

ALFRED BALDWIN, M.P., chairman of the Great Western Railway, died suddenly on February 14, 1908, at Kensington Palace Mansions. The youngest son of the late G. P. Baldwin, he was born in 1841. He was educated privately, and early commenced his business career, which was prosperous almost from the very first. Besides being chairman of the Great Western Railway—a post he succeeded to on the retirement of Earl Cawdor in 1905—he was chairman of Messrs. Baldwins, Limited, one of the most powerful amalgamations in the country, for it combines the business of E. P. and W. Baldwin, Ltd., Wright, Butler, & Co., Ltd., of Birmingham, Alfred Baldwin & Co., Ltd. (paper mills), the Bryn Navigation Colliery Company, Ltd., and the Blackwall Galvanised Iron Company, Ltd. He was also chairman of the Metropolitan Bank (of England and Wales) and of the Aldridge Colliery Company, Ltd., in addition to being on the board of Messrs. Allen, Everitt & Sons, Ltd., and deputy-chairman of the Central Insurance Company. During his career he had also been a director of the following companies: Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours Company (chairman), Golden River Quesnelle, Limited, Anglo-American Tin Stamping Company (chairman), Archibald Kenrick & Sons, and Bentong Straits Tin Company. In addition to the strenuous labours these positions must have entailed, he also discharged the duties of magistrate of Staffordshire, and was a deputy-lieutenant for Worcestershire, for which county he acted as high sheriff in 1894. He had represented the Bewdley Division of Worcestershire in the Conservative interest since 1892, and was a consistent Tariff Reformer.

He was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Biography of Alfred Baldwin, ODNB
  2. Berrow's Worcester Journal, 23 May 1863
  3. Wills, 1863
  4. Biography of Stanley Baldwin, by Stuart Ball, ODNB
  5. Biography of Alfred Baldwin, ODNB
  6. 1871 census
  7. Birmingham Daily Post, 9 July 1890
  8. Berrow's Worcester Journal, 28 November 1891
  9. Western Mail, 19 October 1898
  10. The Times, 17 April 1902
  11. The Engineer 1908/02/21
  12. 1908 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  13. 1908 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Biography of Alfred Baldwin ODNB
  • Biography of Stanley Baldwin ODNB.