Frank Parkinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Frank Parkinson
Frank Parkinson Image.jpg
Born (1887-02-07)7 February 1887
Guiseley, West Riding of Yorkshire
Died 28 January 1946(1946-01-28) (aged 58)
Sunninghill, Berkshire
Nationality British
Occupation Engineer
Engineering career
Practice name Crompton Parkinson

Frank Parkinson (7 February 1887 – 28 January 1946)[1] was a British electrical engineer, most notable for early electric lighting installations, such as light bulbs and electric motors. He was a major benefactor to the University of Leeds with the landmark tower (appearing on the university logo) named in his honour.


The son of a stonemason, originally from Guiseley, he began his studies in electrical engineering in 1908 at Leeds University. He first worked for local firm Rhodes Motors, before setting up F & A. Parkinson and Company in partnership with his brother Albert. The firm continued to grow making Frank 'Yorkshire's quietest millionaire'.

In 1927 he took over Crompton and Co. to form Crompton Parkinson. Crompton and Co. was one of the oldest lighting companies in the world, founded in 1878 by Colonel REB Crompton, a multi-talented entrepreneur who designed and installed some of the earliest recorded electric lighting installations at buildings such as Windsor Castle and Holyrood Palace. Established as an industry leader, Crompton Parkinson was taken over by the Hawker Siddeley aerospace group in 1968 and the Crompton range continued to be further diversified to incorporate cable, fuses, batteries and metering instruments in addition to lamps and luminaires. On 17 May 2002, the factory in his home town closed down.[2]

After seeing plans for the new Leeds University buildings in 1936, Parkinson, by then one of West Yorkshire's most successful businessmen, offered to pay for the entrance hall and tower. The Parkinson Building and Tower has been a major landmark in Leeds and a defining feature of the University since its opening on 9 November 1951.[3]

He lived at Charters near Ascot, in an art deco home which has since been converted into flats.[4] After Parkinson's death, the house was loaned to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor when they returned to England in 1947 and two years later it was bought by Sir Montague Burton, boss of the Leeds tailoring empire. Since 1959 it has been owned by Vickers Research and the DeBeers diamond mining company.[5]

There is a picture of him at the National Portrait Gallery [6]


The Frank Parkinson Scholarship was established in 1936 for students at Leeds University. In announcing his gift, he stated, “I have long cherished the ambition to do something to ensure that the kind of assistance which was extended to me as a student should be available to a larger number of Yorkshire students, especially those who might otherwise be unable to contemplate a University career, or who, in spite of proved ability, might be unable to carry on postgraduate research work through lack of means.” [7] In 2009 it was available for full-time post-graduate research and was worth £8000.[8]

Two trusts were set up following his death from the proceeds of his estate: the Frank Parkinson Yorkshire Trust and the smaller Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust.

His Yorkshire Trust has the objectives of: a) the provision of relief and assistance in any form to old, sick and/or poor persons living in the County of Yorks, or of Yorkshire antecedents, and in particular, primarily but not exclusively living in, or associated with, or having antecedents from the Parish of Guiseley. b) the provision of hospital accommodation and/or convalescent home accommodation in the form of endowment of a bed or beds at any hospital or otherwise for the benefit of such persons as aforesaid. c) the provision or assistance in the provision of almshouses for old people in the said Parish of Guiseley. d) the encouragement and assistance of Technical Education in the Electrical Industry generally. e) the establishment of Scholarships, Bursaries and Exhibitions at any University, Technical School or other Educational Institution in the United Kingdom or under any scheme of apprenticeships for training in any branch of the Electrical Industry. f) the granting of financial assistance in any form and under any conditions to enable young persons of ability who are in need of such assistance and are working or intending to work in the Electrical Industry and whether such young persons shall be from the home country or abroad to improve their education and experience by working or training abroad, or in this country. g) the establishment of convalescent homes, hospitals and clinics of all kinds for work people in the Electrical Industry. h) the provision of assistance in any form for persons engaged in the Electrical Industry, who may be unemployed and in necessitous circumstances. i) the making of grants to any charity which is carrying on any work in connection with the provision of any such benefits as aforesaid.

The trust contributes towards a complex of 43 flats and bungalows offering sheltered accommodation in Guiseley. It has a long waiting list, with potential residents waiting 10 years prior to entry. The complex was valued at nearly £5 million in 2005.[9]

In 2001, £100,000 was donated by his trust to fund work at the Frank Parkinson Tissue Engineering Laboratory at Leeds University.[3] In 2004 the trust donated £223,000 to Wharfedale hospital in order that it could purchase a new fluoroscopy suite.[10] In addition, there are many other smaller donations made annually.

The Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust Deed dated 4 May 1943, has as its principal objective the improvement and welfare of British agriculture. The Trustees may, at their discretion, apply trust income or capital towards any one or more of the following objectives: a) the improvement and welfare of British agriculture, b) the undertaking of agricultural research or the provision of grants in aid of agricultural research, c) the establishment of scholarships, bursaries and exhibitions at any University, College or other technical institution or under any scheme of training in any branch of the agricultural industry, d) the granting of financial assistance in any form and under any conditions to enable young persons of ability who are in need of assistance and are working in the agricultural industry to improve their education and experience by working, training or otherwise, e) the establishment of convalescent homes, hospitals, hostels and social and welfare amenities of all kinds for work people in the agricultural industry, f) the encouragement and assistance of the social and cultural welfare of work people in the agricultural industry and g) the making of grants to any charity or organisation which is carrying on any work in connection with the provision of any of such benefits as aforesaid.[11] The managers of this fund try to produce an income of £50,000 annually [12] and helped to fund the new library at Harper Adams University College.[13]

There are two roads named after him: Frank Parkinson Court in Guiseley [14] (the location of the alms houses) and Parkinson Drive in Chelmsford[15] (the location of the former Crompton Parkinson factory). There is also a centre at Hartpury College which bears his name.

The student halls of residence at Seale-Hayne Agricultural College also bear his name (Frank Parkinson Hall). They are now a part of Hannahs at Seale-Hayne operated by The Dame Hannah Rogers Trust.


  1. ^ J. A. Chartres, 'Parkinson, Frank (1887–1946)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, October 2005 accessed 23 January 2010
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b [2]
  4. ^ Property (2007-03-11). "Art Deco lives another day". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  5. ^ "The other Parkinson building". Yorkshire Evening Post. 2005-06-17. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  6. ^ "Frank Parkinson - Person - National Portrait Gallery". 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  7. ^ "School of Computing | University of Leeds". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  8. ^ [3][dead link]
  9. ^ [4][dead link]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ [6][dead link]
  12. ^ [7][dead link]
  13. ^ "About - History | Harper Adams University". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  14. ^ "Maps". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  15. ^ "Maps". Retrieved 2017-01-29.