Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,365 pages of information and 245,906 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Alfred Moritz Mond

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Sir Alfred Moritz Mond (1868-1930)

1926 Became the first president of the Institution of Fuel Economy Engineers.

1927 Formed the Institute of Fuel.[1]

1931 Obituary [2]

ALFRED MORITZ MOND, 1ST BARON MELCHETT OF LANDFORD, P.C., LL.D., D.Sc., D.C.L., F.R.S. died on December 27, 1930.

To the world at large, Alfred Baron Melchett of Landford - even better known as Sir Alfred Mond - was a notable figure in the spheres of politics and finance. As a prominent statesman and a great business leader his was a name to conjure with, not only nationally, but also internationally. But there were other spheres than these in which Lord Melchett was "of good repute," and to most of our members he will probably be remembered mainly for his intimate connection with, and leadership in, metallurgical industries. The son of one of the greatest industrial chemists of his age (Dr. Ludwig Mond), Lord Melchett was himself a chemist long before he became a prominent figure in either politics or finance, and it is not in the least surprising that in the course of his busy life he sought and found opportunities to share in, and inspire advances in industrial metallurgy, as well as in chemistry.

This is not the place in which to enlarge on his association with his distinguished father and Dr. Carl Langer in the development of the carbonyl process for nickel refining, nor his much later association with kindred metallurgical interests as Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd. These are well-known facts of history, and have been widely enlarged upon in the Press. It is by no means so generally known, however, that Lord Melchett's interest in metallurgy was not merely superficial, or the desultory attention of one to whom it represented just one out of many sources of income. His was the interest of a trained mind, recognizing the vital importance of our industries in the economy of the world.

As Chairman of the Mond Nickel Company, Ltd., both before and after the Great War, he was intimately associated with the development of one of the most valuable of metallurgical products, and he fully realized the responsibility of his position. In the later years of his life the enormous volume of work he undertook in other directions necessarily limited the time he could devote to technical matters, particularly to the metallurgical industry, but he most certainly never lost his enthusiasm for it nor his vision of its possibilities. To his colleagues and associates it was, indeed, a matter of continual surprise that he could find time in so full a life to keep in touch with metallurgical developments as intimately as he did.

Among other valuable assets of mind, he possessed an extraordinarily retentive memory, and although it was impossible for him to enter into minute detail, he acquired in considerable degree sound technical knowledge. He was far from being only a figurehead in the businesses he controlled. The present writer had a number of opportunities of discussing technical matters with Lord Melchett, and it was often a stimulating experience. He was a remarkably quick thinker, and this naturally led to rapid speech, requiring on the part of the listener acute concentration and distinct effort. such effort was, however, always well worthwhile.

It is no small tribute to Lord Melchett that he was instinctively regarded as a great man, not only by the world at large, but also by the technical men with whom he worked, and whom he regarded and treated in the truest sense of the word as "colleagues." He won their respect, even—and this is saying much—when they disagreed with him, and he held it not because of his name and position, but as a man, a great thinker and a great worker.

One other tribute should be paid to him. He was a kindly and generous man and, with all his brilliance, very human. It could scarcely be said of him that he "suffered fools gladly," and he had little in the way of conversational "small talk." If he discussed a subject, it was because he was convinced it was worth discussing, and he was particularly impatient of irrelevancies. To some men, whose acquaintance with him was but slight, his manner repelled, but closer acquaintance nearly always dispelled such impressions, and very often in the course of even business discussions his associates were given glimpses that below the surface was a warm-hearted personality, keen and vital. He was a man worth knowing and cultivating for his personal qualities, altogether apart from his position. He has left a vacant place which it will take long to fill.

Lord Melchett was elected a Member of the Institute of Metals on September 1, 1926. — W. R. BARCLAY.

1931 Obituary[3]

"The Late Lord Melchett.

Though Lord Melchett was not directly connected with the engineering industry, his death cannot fail to be greatly felt by those who perceived in him the embodiment of the modem spirit in commerce, and looked to him to provide the inspiration which would lead to a happy solution of many of our present difficulties. That the latter might have been the role he had to play is highly probable. Nothing, in fact, would have pleased him more, for both by speech and action he made it clear that he considered the main factor in the re-establishment of the industry of the country to be the internal re-organisation of all its branches, followed by a similar reorganisation on imperial and international lines. It was with this end in view that he succeeded in amalgamating into one concern collieries supplying about 80 per cent, of the Welsh anthracite output, and in carrying to a successful conclusion the more formidable task of establishing Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, a combination which includes firms dealing in explosives, dyes, artificial leathers, synthetic ammonia and nitrate, salt and soda, incandescent gas mantles, carburettors and many other products. Moreover, he recognised that the success of these undertakings depended not only on careful organisation, good management and modem equipment, but on the establishment of goodwill, especially within the company itself. He was, therefore, as a matter of policy, a model employer. As a natural corollary, he attempted to persuade industrialists to put their houses in order by adapting his ideas to their own needs, and did his best to improve the machinery for dealing with, disputes, between employers and employed. If rationalisation of the processes whereby production is] carried out is worth striving for, it follows logically that the rationalisation of those by whose efforts that production is alone possible must also be beneficial. It was hardly likely, however, that these ideas would receive universal acceptance, especially in a country like ours, where individualism is predominant. The result is that the re-organisation on modem lines of many industries which would benefit from such treatment still halts, and that the relations between employers and employed are even now not so satisfactory as they might be if each side would recognise that its interests are really common and not antagonistic. We shall not here speak of the political side of Lord Melchett’s career except to say that he did good work in minor Cabinet appointments and, as Minister of Health, used his wide knowledge of business methods to tackle the problem of postwar housing on economic lines. That many branches of that problem are now nearing solution is hot a little due to the firm foundation that he laid. Coming nearer to our own interests, he did useful and unobtrusive work as Founder-President of the Institute of Fuel, and that body owes him a great debt of gratitude. For in this, as in many other fields, his influence was stimulating, his creative spirit enabling him to indicate the paths which might, best be followed to the common profit."

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