William Weir, 1st Viscount Weir

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Weir
GCB PC
Personal details
Born William Douglas Weir
(1877-05-12)12 May 1877
Crosshill, Glasgow, Scotland
Died 2 July 1959(1959-07-02) (aged 82)
Giffnock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Industrialist

William Douglas Weir, 1st Viscount Weir GCB PC (12 May 1877 – 2 July 1959) was a Scottish industrialist and politician, who served as President of the Air Council in 1918.

Early life[edit]

Weir was born in Glasgow in 1877, the eldest child of James Weir (1842/3–1920) and his wife, Mary Richmond (1848–1931). He attended Allan Glen's School and the High School of Glasgow before entering an apprenticeship in the business established by his father and his uncle, G. and J. Weir, manufacturers of condensers, pumps, and evaporators. His brother was J S Weir[1][2]

He married Alice Blanche (1882–1959) in 1904.

Industrialist[edit]

Weir rose to become a director of G. and J. Weir, before serving as managing director between 1902 and 1915, and as chairman from 1910 to 1953. During World War I, he converted his factories to produce explosive shells.

He went on to hold a number of other directorships, including Lloyds Bank (1928–38), Imperial Chemical Industries (1928–53), International Nickel (1928–59), and Shell Transport and Trading (1939). He was also chairman of the Anglo-Scottish Sugar Beet Corporation.

Public servant[edit]

David Lloyd George appointed him to the unpaid position of director of munitions in Scotland in July 1915, he joined the Air Board in December 1916 and was made a Knight Bachelor in February 1917. He joined the Air Council in November 1917 and became its President in April 1918, resigning in December that year after the end of the war. He joined the Privy Council in April and was elevated raised to the peerage as Baron Weir, of Eastwood in the County of Renfrew, in the summer.[3]

He didn't desire any further political power, and went on to serve on a number of government committees, including those on civil aviation, economies in the fighting services, and co-ordination between the navy, army, and air force. During 1924 and 1925, Weir chaired the committee on electricity supply to plan the rationalisation of the United Kingdom's electrical power industry. His conclusions led to the Electricity (Supply) Act 1926, and the creation of the National Grid and the Central Electricity Board. He became a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1934.

In 1935, he was a member defence policy and requirements committee and became advisor to Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, later Viscount Swinton upon his appointment as Secretary of State for Air. He was behind the creation of shadow aircraft factories and was an advisor on national defence, resigning his position after Swinton's dismissal. He was created Viscount Weir, of Eastwood in the County of Renfrew in 1938,[4] and in 1939 he was director-general of explosives at the Ministry of Supply.

He was a founder and later president of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club and was elected to The Other Club in 1932.

Honours[edit]

In addition to his knighthoods, barony and viscountcy, Weir received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow in 1919, the freedom of the City of London in 1957, the Order of the Crown of Italy, and he became a Commander of the Légion d'honneur.[5]

In 2011 he was one of seven inaugural inductees to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.[6]

Archives[edit]

The archives of William Douglas Weir are maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Later also active in the Air Ministry
  2. ^ Flight July 22, 1920
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30787. p. 8063. 9 July 1918. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34527. p. 4239. 1 July 1938. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  5. ^ "Weir, 1st Viscount". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  6. ^ "Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame". engineeringhalloffame.org. 2012. Retrieved 27 Aug 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Rothermere
President of the Air Council
1918–1919
Succeeded by
J. E. B. Seely
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Weir
1938–1959
Succeeded by
James Kenneth Weir
New creation Baron Weir
1918–1959