Alfred Herbert

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Alfred Herbert
Alfred Herbert at the age of 90
Alfred Herbert at the age of 90
Born (1866-09-05)5 September 1866
Leicester, England
Died 26 May 1957(1957-05-26) (aged 90)
King's Somborne, England
Nationality British
Organization Alfred Herbert Ltd.
Known for Benefactor to Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
Spouse(s) Ellen Adela (married 1889), Florence Lucus (married 1913), Marian Pugh (married 1933)[1]
Children 4

Sir Alfred Edward Herbert KBE (5 September 1866 – 26 May 1957) was an English industrialist and museum benefactor. He moved to Coventry in 1887 to manage a small engineering business which grew to become Alfred Herbert Limited, one of the world's largest manufacturers and distributors of machine tools.[2]


Born in Leicester and educated at Stoneygate House School in Leicester, Alfred Herbert became an apprentice at Joseph Jessop & Sons, crane builders in 1884.[1]

In 1887 he moved to Coventry to become manager of Coles & Matthews, a small engineering business where his brother, William, was director.[1] In 1888 he went into partnership with William Hubbard. They bought C&M for £2,375 and traded as Herbert & Hubbard. Herbert bought out Hubbard in 1894 and the company was incorporated under the name Alfred Herbert Limited: a company that would become one of the World's largest manufacturers and distributors of machine tools.[2] During World War I Herbert became Controller of machine tools for the Ministry of Munitions.[1] He was knighted in 1917 and appointed an Officer in the Belgian Order of Leopold[3] and an Officer in the French Légion d'honneur in 1919.[4]

He retired to Dunley Manor in Whitchurch and died at King's Somborne in 1957.[1][5]


As well as being an industrialist, Herbert was a philanthropist within Coventry, building almshouses, supporting wounded servicemen through donations, establishing a camp for the city's poor children, and funding the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral.[1]

Herbert's legacy also lives on in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, of which he was a major benefactor.[6] In 1938 he donated £100,000 to Coventry City Council to erect a Gallery and Museum on a town centre site owned by the council.[7] The city's destruction during the Second World War meant that construction was suspended. New plans were drawn up in 1952, and in May 1954 the foundation stone was laid by Herbert, who also donated a further £100,000 to the project.[8]


He was married three times; he married Ellen Adela, with whom he had four daughters, in 1889, then Florence Lucus in 1913 and then Marian Pugh in 1933.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Donnelly, Tom (2004). "Herbert, Sir Alfred Edward (1866–1957)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ a b Page 4, Alfred Herbert and the British Machine Tool Industry 1887 - 1983, R. Lloyd-Jones and M.J. Lewis, Ashgate, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7546-0523-2
  3. ^ "No. 31255". The London Gazette. 28 March 1919. p. 4009. 
  4. ^ "No. 31293". The London Gazette. 15 April 1919. p. 4880. 
  5. ^ Obituary, The Times, Monday, 27 May 1957
  6. ^ "History | The Herbert". Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Sir A. Herbert's Gift To Coventry, The Times, 26 October 1938
  8. ^ McCarthy, James (2 September 2005). "Bright New Look For The Herbert; First Phase Of City Art Gallery Revealed". Coventry Evening Telegraph. 

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