Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Jules Thorn

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Jules Thorn (1899–1980) was born in Vienna, Austria, on 6 February 1899 to Jewish parents: his father was Leon Thorn, an insurance company director, and he was the youngest of three brothers.

After WWI he studied business and management at the Handelshochschule — the commerce school in Vienna.

On graduation he obtained became the representative of an Austrian electric lamp manufacturer, and moved to Britain where he was later naturalised.

1926 His employers went bankrupt. Thorn was able to raise sufficient capital to clear his debts and start up in business as an importer of Hungarian lamps, selling them through his own Electric Lamp Service Company Ltd,

1928 following government restrictions on lamp importations, Thorn went into manufacturing under the Atlas brand, the beginning of a major line of business.

1928 married Dorothy Olive Tanner

1935 He (presumably) started Ferguson Radio which sold its products through Thorn Electrical Industries and was later acquired by Thorn

1936 his company went public under the name Thorn Electrical Industries; the offer was 35 times oversubscribed. A fellow Austrian, Alfred (Freddy) Deutsch, a radio engineer, joined Thorn at this point.

1946 Thorn secured a crucial deal with the American company Sylvania Electric Products, for co-operation in the development and manufacture of fluorescent tubes.

1951 Acquired Tricity Cookers, moving the company into a new and booming field in domestic electrical appliances.

1961 Thorn entered the retail market, merging their manufacturing interests with Radio Rentals; several related acquisitions occurred in the 1960s

1964 Knighted

1976 Unwilling to retire, he finally gave up the chairmanship

1980 Died at home in Westminster.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir Jules Thorn, ODNB [1]