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On a bicycle for two

Here’s a photograph from the November 14 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of two British industrialists on a tandem bicycle.

William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield (1877-1963) made a fortune selling Morris motor vehicles and then proceeded to give lots of it away. The grant mentioned here was used to found Nuffield College, the first co-educational college at Oxford.

Unfortunately, the contract to build airplane engines mentioned in this photo caption didn’t work out. When given the contract, Nuffield claimed that his factories could produce 60 Spitfires a week. But, by May 1940, when airplanes were most needed, they hadn’t produced any. When Lord Beaverbrook was placed in charge of aircraft production, Nuffield was fired.

On the other hand, Nuffield offered to give an iron lung to any hospital in the British Empire that wanted one; over 1700 took him up on his offer. So I guess you win some and you lose some.

Harold Bowden (1880-1960) set his sights a little lower in life, possibly because he was a second-generation industrialist: his father, Frank Bowden, founded Raleigh Bicycles in 1887, after a health scare prompted him to take up cycling. The younger Bowden seems to have been a capable steward of his father’s company: he was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1929, and he got his own page in the Cycling Weekly’s Golden Book of Cycling in 1938.

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