Alfred Robert Grindlay
Alfred Robert Grindlay
A R Grindlay outside Buckingham Palace, 20 May 1947
|Mayor of Coventry|
01 January 1941 – 31 December 1941
|Councillor for Coventry City Council|
1923 – 1962 (39 years)
|Born||01 February 1876|
|Died||14 April 1965 (aged 89)|
|Spouse(s)||Emma Chaplin (m.1896)|
The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Coventry, Alderman Alfred Robert Grindlay CBE, OBE, JP (1 February 1876 - 14 April 1965) was an English inventor, industrialist and official during the 19th and 20th centuries. He is renowned for co-founding Grindlay Peerless, the world record breaking motorcycle engineering company and his prominent role in regional government, including his mayorship of Coventry during WWII and the Coventry Blitz.
Grindlay was born in Coventry, England in 1876, the fifth child of six and second son of William Grindlay (1843-1881) an established watch artisan. Upon leaving school, Grindlay joined a local cycle firm and began learning the skills he would employ to great effect later in his career.
By 1901, Grindlay was working at Riley Cycle Company, one of the major firms in Coventry at that time. Grindlay progressed steadily within the company, until 1911, while working as a foreman at Riley Cycle Company, he applied for a patent (24,683) regarding 'improved means for carrying spare wheels' for motorcars. That same year Grindlay left Riley Cycle Company and took over the Coventry Motor & Sundries business, establishing Grindlay Sidecars, which quickly became known for its "extremely high quality" machines.
During WWI he combined forces with Thomas Edward Musson (b.1875) founding Musson & Grindlay, specialising in Sidecar production. However, parting ways with Musson in 1923, Grindlay established Grindlay Peerless.
Formed in 1923, Grindlay Peerless operated out of Melbourne Works on Shakleton Road in Spon End, Coventry, entered into the wider motorcycle market in the early 1920s and began making high-powered machines. Like the Grindlay Sidecars before them, the motorcycles became renowned for their exceptional production quality and power, but were also recognised for their technological advances and innovative engineering, which included utilising early aircraft design features.
The company won worldwide acclaim when CWG 'Bill' Lacey became the first man to exceed a 100 miles in an hour on British soil in August 1928 aboard his modified 498cc Grindlay Peerless. The bike covered 103.9 miles in the hour at Brooklands racing circuit, in Surrey to secure a Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) world record.
In addition to his contribution to the British motor industry, Grindlay was a prominent member of Coventry City Council. Joining the council in 1923, he dedicated much of his life to improving the lives of the citizens of Coventry and wider Warwickshire.
During WWII, in 1941, Grindlay was appointed Mayor of Coventry (later styled Lord Mayor). He presided over Coventry during the notorious period of the Coventry Blitz that saw 230 bombers attack the city, dropping 315 tons of high explosive and 25,000 incendiaries during the April 1941 attack. Grindlay led much of the early work to rebuild the city following the 1941 bombing and a large portion of the city owes its design origins to his directives.
Grindlay House in Windsor Street was named so in his honour.
Three years later in 1946 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to the nation and personally commended for his efforts by King George VI. The formal investiture took place on Tuesday the 20th of May 1947 at Buckingham Palace.
Having been a Coventry City Councillor for nearly 39 years, Grindlay was awarded the Freedom of the City on 15 November 1962. His award is described by Coventry City Council as being "in recognition of his eminent and devoted service to the city during a period of unprecedented municipal development and as a token of public esteem".
Grindlay family and Arms
Alfred Robert Grindlay was born into the eminent Midlands centred Grindlay family, whose presence in the region can be traced back to the 12th century. More recently, the English branch of the family were prominent British bankers (see Grindlays Bank), officials, industrialists and Freemasons during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The family are reputed to be descended from William de Grenlay (c.1275), and the Norman nobleman Albertus Greslet or ‘Albert 'd'Avranches' de Greslé’ (c.1050 - c.1100), avowed Viscount of Avranches, and the 1st Baron of Manchester. Although the subject of ongoing study, there are commonly considered to be several recorded spellings of the surname, including Gresley, Greidley and Gridley, but the Arms now associated with the Grindlay variation were adopted later.
The Grindal family (see Edmund Grindal, former Archbishop of Canterbury during the 16th century) are held to be close associates and possible relations. The near synonymous family heraldry is believed to stem from this connection. A distant relationship is also believed to exist with the Sidney Earls of Leicester.
Other branches of the Grindlay family exist in Scotland, including 18th and 19th century leather magnates and landowners, of the former Orchardfield Estate in Edinburgh, and in the United States (see James G Grindlay), highly decorated Unionist participants in the American Civil War following emigration from the United Kingdom during the 19th Century.
The Scottish branch is an ancestral sept of Clan Home and Clan Wedderburn, with the arms of Grindlay and Wedderburn sharing the motto 'Non Degener' (Not Degenerated). The family resided near the ancient town of Grinnla, now Greenlaw, in the Scottish Borders.
- Derwent Island House, one of a number of residences of the Grindlay family during the 20th century
- Grindlay Peerless
- Notable persons associated with Grindlay Peerless
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- Coventry Blitz
- Grindlays Bank
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