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British Industrial History

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Gilbert Christopher Vyle

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Gilbert Christopher Vyle (1870-1933) formerly managing director of W. and T. Avery

1870 Born in Hereford the son of Samuel Vyle

1871 Living at 50 St. Andrews Road, Southampton: Samuel Vyle (age 29 born Hatch Beauchamp, Soms.), Chief Clerk, Post Office Telegraph. With his wife Emily E. Vyle (age 23 born Hereford) and their son Gilbert C. Vyle (age 6 Months born Hereford). One servant.[1]

1933 Obituary[2]


Sir Gilbert Christopher Vyle, whose death, we regret to record, occurred at Birmingham on Thursday, September 7, at the age of 63, was an example which some would see more widely followed, of an engineer, who, in his later days, devoted himself less to technology than to business affairs. Though he never actually entered Parliament, nor took any direct part in local government, he was the trusted counsellor of statesmen during some of the most critical moments of the Empire’s history. He also did invaluable work for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and was one of the most energetic organisers of the section of the British Industries Fair, which is held in that city.

Gilbert Christopher Vyle was born at Hereford in 1870, being the son of Samuel Vyle, of Haverford West, who was one of the pioneers of electric lighting in this country. He was educated in London, Glasgow and Nottingham as an electrical engineer, and subsequently was for a time a member of the engineering staff of the Post Office. He then served abroad under the Colonial Office in a similar capacity, and on his return to this country was first engaged in the manufacture of electrical apparatus and then in practice on his own account as a consulting engineer. It was at this time that his interest in labour and commercial questions began to be exhibited, though he continued his connection with engineering by becoming chairman of Messrs. W. and T. Avery, Limited, in 1912, and was also a member of the board of Radiation, Limited.

On the outbreak of war he organised the design and manufacture of aircraft for the Navy, Army and the Air Force, and also the production of sinkers, projectiles and other munition equipment. He also served on the Board of No. 4 area of the Ministry of Munitions and was chairman of the Finance Sub-Committee. Later on he was a member of the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage and of the Water Power Resources Committee. He also took part in the Departmental Enquiry on the organisation of British Industries Fairs, in Lord Chelmsford’s Committee on the same problem and on the Exports Credit System. He was a Government adviser at Geneva on import and export restrictions and was one of the three official industrial advisers to the United Kingdom delegation at the Ottawa Economic Conference. He was president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce in 1923-24, of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce in 1926-27, and of the British Engineers’ Association in 1929-30. He was vice-president of the Engineering and National Employers’ Federation and president of the Birmingham and District branch of that body. He received the honour of knighthood for his services in 1928, and became a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire this year."

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