Born in London, Mitchell became an apprentice on the railways at the age of 14. After working for a firm of consulting engineers as a draughtsman, he joined the engineering firm of Fraser and Chalmers. During World War I he worked as a civilian troubleshooter for Lord Kitchener. After the War Mitchell established an engineering business in London supplying coal handling plant and boilers for power stations. In 1933 he diversified into construction activities founding Mitchell Construction which focused on the construction of power stations and which, after his death, was to become one of the largest construction companies in the UK.
His passion was sailing and in 1931 he became Commodore of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club where he was responsible for completing the new clubhouse at Burnham-on-Crouch as well as establishing a Southern Branch at Cowes. During the 1950s Mitchell's business expanded rapidly enabling him to acquire a former minesweeper and restore it. He instituted the Finn Gold Cup for the Finn Class of Sailing in 1956.
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