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British Industrial History

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George Stegmann Gibb

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Sir George Stegmann Gibb (1850–1925), railway company manager

1850 Born in Aberdeen, the youngest son of Alexander Gibb (1804-1867), builder and engineer, and his wife, Margaret Smith, daughter of an architect. His grandfather was John Gibb, a civil engineer who worked with Telford and specialized in harbour construction and river engineering.

Educated in Aberdeen and London; trained as a solicitor.

1877 he joined the Great Western Railway as an assistant in the solicitor's office.

1880 Started to practise on his own account in London.

1881 Married Dorothea Garrett Smith; they had four sons and one daughter.

1882 Joined the North Eastern Railway as solicitor

1891 Succeeded Henry Tennant as general manager, based in York.

Over the next decade, he changed the NER from a relatively successful if somewhat staid railway into an exemplar of advanced managerial practice. Among his early and most enduring reforms was the establishment of a traffic apprenticeship scheme involving the recruitment of bright young men from the universities and the business world. He promoted them quickly into responsible positions in the traffic department, where Gibb needed to break the forces of conservatism and introduce new methods. Instituted a detailed appraisal of operating methods, organization, and information systems. Studied American practice. Pioneered the use of new statistical concepts for operational measurement, control, and efficiency.

1901 Gibb served on the War Office committee of reorganization

1903 Served on royal commission on London's transport, for which service he was knighted.

c.1904 The NER was the first main-line railway in Britain to electrify a part of its system.

1905 Moved to the Underground Electric Railways Co in London (UERL) as deputy chairman and managing director, and chairman and managing director of one of its operating units, the Metropolitan District Railway. But the organization was close to bankruptcy, with an unsound business strategy. Gibb commissioned a searching examination of its business. He stimulated changes in pricing policy, closer integration of the activities of the various operating units, and restriction of competition with other suppliers.

1910 Moved from railway management to chairmanship of the newly-formed Road Board.[1]

WWI Also served on the Army Council and as a member of the government committee on production from 1915 to 1918. He was also a member of the Pacific cable board from 1914 to 1918.

Post-WWI Advised on the relationship between railways and the government, and on the impending amalgamations.

1925 Died at home in Wimbledon.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir George Gibb, ODNB