The following is the text of an article from the long defunct newspaper, The Coventry Herald. It appeared as a 'County Cameo' in April 1932.
From THE COVENTRY HERALD, April 1932
MR. J. D. SIDDELEY, C.B.E.
Pioneer of Cars and Aircraft
(By Our Own Representative)
THE ROOM in which Mr. J. D. Siddeley presides over the destinies of the huge concerns that have grown up under his guidance is a reflection of its owner. It is quiet, and totally devoid of knick-knacks or "pretty" furniture. Its only decorations are a large painting and a model of the self-changing gear that has recently added considerably to the already sound reputation of Armstrong-Siddeley cars.
The painting may seem out of place, but when one considers that it is a work of creative art its presence will be understood. It is only men with creative minds who become captains of industry; which probably explains Mr. Siddeley's love of pictures - "I live with them," he told me simply, - and his absorbing interest in landscape gardening.
The Man Himself
And the man himself? "Who's Who" describes him as: "John Davenport Siddeley, C.B.E., F.R.Ae.S., chairman and managing director, Armstrong Siddeley Motors, Ltd.; director, Sir W.G. Armstrong-Whitworth Aircraft, Ltd.; chairman and director Armstrong-Siddeley Development Company ; chairman, Society of British Aircraft Constructors, Ltd ; director, A. V. Roe and Co., Ltd"
But "Who's Who"does not describe his quiet, unassuming figure, nor his lack of that dynamic manner so often and erroneously considered a part and parcel of the make-up of any and every industrial leader. No; Mr. Siddeley gives an impression of quiet efficiency. He struck me as the type of man who gets things done without shouting about it.
An Interesting Career
He has had an interesting career. Born in Manchester in 1866, and educated at Altrincham (Cheshire) and Beaumaris (Anglesey), he began work in his father's business. But from his youngest days he longed to be associated with the bicycle trade, and in 1892 he came to Coventry as the only draftsman and designer at the Humber Cycle Works.
He was for a long time associated with the sporting side of cycling, and won distinction as an amateur racing cyclist. In this connection he was Honorary Secretary of the Northern Roads Records Association from its inception.
From The Humber Works he went to the Dunlop organisation and was appointed to a post at Belfast where he married Miss S.M. Goodier, daughter of Mr. James Goodier, of Macclesfield. They have had three sons and two daughters, all of whom are married.
Later he returned to Coventry to the same firm, at which time, with the exception of the sons of Mr. Harvey du Cros, he was the only representative the Dunlop Company employed in England.
When motor cars were first devised Mr. Siddeley was closely associated with their development, and took part in the Royal Automobile Club's historic 1.000 miles trail in 1900, driving a 6 h.p. Daimler car. He was for many years a prominent member of the committee of the R.A.C.
In 1932 , Mr. Siddeley began the Manufacture of the Siddeley Autocar in Coventry, the design showing individuality and a notable advance on ideas current at that time. One of these cars, belonging to Dame Lock King, recently competed in the London - Brighton Old Crocks Run.
After a time he joined the Wolseley Company, and the cars produced under his management were know as Wolseley-Siddeley, winning a reputation for comfort and durability. After living in Kent for seven years, Mr. Siddeley returned to Coventry and took up residence at Hill Orchard, Meriden.
His next venture was the J.D.S type of Deasy car - a vehicle again displaying strong individuality. This car was noted for its extreme comfort, and the fact that the radiator was situated behind the bonnet gave it an easily recognisable appearance. From 1911 Siddeley cars were know as Siddeley-Deasy's, and were built at the Deasy Works in Parkside, Coventry, which represent but small proportion of the great works now surrounding the old site.
Outbreak of War
Then the outbreak of war startled the country, "During the first week of war," Mr. Siddeley told me, "there was a certain disinclination on the part of the young men of Coventry to volunteer. I called all our workpeople together, told them my sons were immediately joining up and called upon the young men to do what I considered to be right. As a result of this, a very large percentage of the employees immediately volunteered, and this started a wave of enthusiasm in the city, leading to enormous numbers of young men joining up."
Mr Siddeley's three sons all spent their twenty-first birthdays on the battlefields and all returned home safely at the conclusion of the war.
Manufacture of Aircraft
During the war period, in 1915, the Siddeley-Deasy Company produced the Siddeley Puma aero engine, and in the same year began the manufacture of aircraft on a large scale. Four years later, the Armstrong-Whitworth and Siddeley-Deasy interests were amalgamated, and the Armstrong-Whitworth Development Company was formed to control Armstrong-Siddeley Motors and Sir W.G. Armstrong-Whitworth Aircraft Ltd. In a few years time, Mr. Siddeley acquired control of the Development Company, which then became the Armstrong-Siddeley Development Company and which, in normal times, gives employment to over 7,000 people.
In addition to the various interests outlined, the Company owns A.V. Roe and Co. Ltd., of Woodford, near Manchester, where Avro aircraft are produced, and it controls an international air training establishment at Hamble, near Southampton.
Won Kings Cup*
Mr. Siddeley moved from Meriden to Crackley Hall, Kenilworth - where he now resides - in 1919. He still takes a keen interest in the sporting side of engine production, and for many years has entered machines in the King's Cup Race. He was successful in winning the King's Cup in 1923, and in the following year he was made a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
For many years Mr. Siddeley has been a prominent member of Coventry Unionist Association and of the Constitutional Club. He is President of Coventry Junior Imperial League. "I am a solid Conservative," he said, "and a moderate tariff man. I believe that tariffs preserve and are essential to the motor trade."
He is also President of Kenilworth Swimming Club, and Vice-President of numerous Coventry and Kenilworth organisations, both social and sporting.
He has been a keen churchman all his life, and presented St. Anne's Church, Acacia Avenue, to the City. He was also chairman of the committee responsible for building a church at Fairbourne, in North Wales, where he has a small seaside house.
The announcement was recently made that Mr. Siddeley had been "pricked" by his Majesty the King as High Sheriff of Warwickshire. There could be no man more suitable for this distinguished office.
|© Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club Ltd|