Harold Hales

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Sir Harold Keates Hales MP (22 April 1868 - November 1942) was an eccentric British shipping magnate, politician and founder of the Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband award for the ship with the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing. He claimed to be the inspiration for the title character of Arnold Bennett's The Card. He was the sole proprietor of Hales Brothers, an export and import shipping line.

He was born in Manchester in 1868. Hales worked in the pottery and china business in the Stoke-on-Trent area, founding "Hales Brothers", an export and import shipping line, of which he was the sole proprietor.

He first owned a car in 1897, and later bragged that he had never blown his horn, and tried to make it illegal for anyone else to blow theirs. He flew an airship around St. Paul's Cathedral in 1908. In 1910, he was one of the first people to crash an airplane crashes (1910).

After serving in Turkey during World War I, he travelled the world promoting British industry.

He was Conservative MP for Hanley from 1931–1935. He enlivened a House of Commons debate on the herring industry by gesturing with a dead herring as he argued.

In 1935, he inaugurated the "Hales Trophy" for the Blue Riband award for the ship with the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing. It was commissioned in 1933 and designed by Charles Holliday, designer for the firm of James Dixon and Sons, silversmiths of Cornish Place Sheffield. Hales gave the firm very specific instructions of what to include in the design so the completed piece as described below was made to fulfil those criteria. The Hales Trophy is almost four feet tall, weighing nearly 100 pounds, made of solid silver, onyx and heavy gilt, showing Victory, Neptune and Amphitrite upholding a globe and topped by a figure called Speed urging a liner into the face of a figure called The Force of the Atlantic. An enamelled blue ribbon surrounds the middle of the prize, and there are memorials to past record-holders, with Harold Hales's name at the base.

He died in 1942 aged 74, accidentally drowning in the Thames, near Shepperton.

His only son, Ormonde Keates Hales (1915–1979) was a businessman and archaeologist.


  • "Harold's Adventures", his autobiography (1926)
  • "Chariots Of The Air" (1936)
  • "The Road To Westminster, And My Impressions Of Parliament" (1936)
  • "The Autobiography Of 'The Card'" (1936)
  • "Keeling And Son" (1938)


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Hollins
Member of Parliament for Hanley
Succeeded by
Arthur Hollins