George Marks, 1st Baron Marks

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The Lord Marks
Member of Parliament for North Cornwall
Launceston (1906–18)
In office
8 February 1906 – 29 October 1924
Preceded byJohn Fletcher Moulton
Succeeded byAlfred Martyn Williams
Personal details
Born(1858-06-09)9 June 1858
Eltham, Kent
Died24 September 1938(1938-09-24) (aged 80)
Poole, Dorset
Political partyLiberal/Labour
Spouse(s)Margaret Maynard
Alma materKing's College London
OccupationCivil engineer

George Croydon Marks, 1st Baron Marks, CBE (9 June 1858 – 24 September 1938), known as Sir George Marks between 1911 and 1929,[1] was an English engineer, patent agent and Liberal (later Labour) politician.[2]

Background and education[edit]

Marks was born in Eltham in Kent, the eldest of eight children of William Marks and Amelia Adelaide Croydon,[3] of whom only four survived childhood. After attending a local private school, at age 13 he became apprenticed at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, where his father William was a foreman, and continued his general education part-time at the Royal Arsenal School. At 17, he won a Whitworth Exhibition for two years at King's College, University of London.

Business career[edit]

Noted by many[by whom?] as a disciple of Brunel, he joined Sir Richard Tangye's company, whose works were closely associated with funicular lifts. Marks was appointed head of the lift department, in which role he was in charge of the installation of the Saltburn Cliff Lift.[4] 1880, he set up a private practice in Birmingham and married Margaret Maynard;[4] they never had any children. In 1887 he formed a partnership with Dugald Clerk, forming the international intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk,[5] which now operates in 18 countries worldwide.[6] The firm became big enough to move its headquarters to London in 1893, with branches in Birmingham and Manchester. Developing a number of cliff railways and steep-incline tramcar systems, including the Matlock Cable Tramway in 1893, the Swansea Constitution Hill Incline Railway in 1896–8, commissions included the design of the new Gothic pavilion at the Royal Pier and the Cambrian Hotel (later the United Theological College), both in Aberystwyth.

Marks continued his engineering practice alongside his patent interests. This included a partnership from 1890 with Sir George Newnes, which also concentrated on cliff railways, including an early stage development of Babbacombe Cliff Railway.[4] In 1911 he set up an office in New York in conjunction with Thomas Edison.[4]

Marks was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[7]

Political career[edit]

In 1906, Marks was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for the North-Eastern or Launceston Division of Cornwall in the Liberal landslide general election victory.[8] He received a knighthood in 1911,[9] served at the Ministry of Munitions during the First World War, and was awarded the CBE for work as a commissioner for the dilution of labour in 1917.[10] He held his Parliamentary seat until it was abolished at the 1918 general election, when he was returned for the new Northern Division of Cornwall. He held that seat until his defeat at the 1924 general election.[11]

In 1929, he left the Liberals and joined Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party. His almost immediate reward came when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Marks, of Woolwich in the County of Kent on 16 July 1929.[12]


Marks continued his engineering and business activities and died at his home in Poole, Dorset in September 1938, aged 80. As he had no children, his peerage died with him.

Awards and memberships[edit]

  • Member, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  • Associate Member, Institution of Civil Engineers, and Telford Premium Award, 1893-4
  • Knight of the Ducal Order of Ernest (Hungary), 1896
  • Knight Bachelor at the Coronation of George V, 1910
  • Commander, Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.), 1917
  • 1st Baron Marks, of Woolwich, 16 July 1929


  1. ^ "George Croydon Marks". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Grace's Guide. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  2. ^ Michael R. Lane, ‘Marks, George Croydon, Baron Marks (1858–1938)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  3. ^ Pine, L.G. (1972), "The New Extinct Peerage 1884–1971", Heraldry Today
  4. ^ a b c d David Cooper Bsc (Hons), MSc, IEng, FRSA, FIIE, FIDIagE, MCIBSE, LCGI. "A Brief History and Explanation of Technology Babbacombe Cliff Railway". Friends of the Babbacombe Cliff Railway. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Marks and Clerk LLP". Yahoo! Finance. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Our History". Marks and Clerk LLP. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  7. ^ Who was Who, OUP, 2007
  8. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 240. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  9. ^ "No. 28512". The London Gazette. 11 July 1911. p. 5167.
  10. ^ "No. 30250". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 August 1917. p. 8796.
  11. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 312. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  12. ^ "No. 33518". The London Gazette. 19 July 1929. p. 4762.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Launceston
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for North Cornwall
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Marks