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British Industrial History

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Jack Bowthorpe

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Jack Bowthorpe CBE (1905–1978) was the founder of Bowthorpe Electric Co later Spirent Communications, one of the United Kingdom's largest telecommunications businesses.

1905 Born at Lambeth the son of Henry Bowthorpe, a commercial traveller, and his wife Mabel Kate Morgan

1911 Living at 75 Gipsy Hill, Upper Norwood: Henry Bowthorpe (age 32 born Lambeth), Commercial Traveller for Electrical Manufacturer. With his wife Mabel Kate Bowthorpe (age 34 born Portsmouth) and their children Jack Bowthorpe (age 5 born Lambeth); Henry Bowthorpe (age 4 born Lambeth); Helen Bowthorpe (age 2 born Lambeth); and Beatrice Bowthorpe (age 7 months born Lambeth). One servant.[1]

c1921 Reputedly orphaned, he started working at the General Electric Co in London, aged 16, as a ledger clerk, before moving into the sales and finally the export department.

In 1926, he left GEC to join the Electrical Equipment and Carbon Co in New Oxford Street.

He was a keen amateur footballer, playing with the Christ Church Athletic Club for many years, which is where he met Ray Parsons.

In 1934 he married Norah Beatrice Davies and they had two children, Peter (born 1935) and Sonia (born 1937).

In 1938, Jack Bowthorpe exhibited at the Leipzig Fair.

Borrowing £2,000 from a relative, Jack Bowthorpe started his own business in 1936 originally trading as Goodlife Electrical Supplies although, on repayment of the loan in 1938, Bowthorpe Electric Ltd was established with the help of Park Trust Ltd (Lord Doverdale's family trust). He operated his business from a garage in 8, Eagle Street, London, W.C.1., cutting up electrical wiring into standard lengths and selling it to the aircraft industry. He was one of the first people to realise that the purpose of different cables needed to be identified by the colour of their sleevings. He initially employed one person, Ray Parsons, to assist him and together they built the Company into one of the UK's largest electrical businesses.

1978 He was awarded the CBE for services to British Industry

1978 He died at Uckfield

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Sources of Information

  1. 1911 Census