John Black (businessman)
He was born in Kingston upon Thames on 10 February 1895 the son of a clerk, John George Black and his wife Ellen (Smith) and studied law at the University of London. During World War I he served first in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve before transferring to the Royal Tank Regiment where he gained the rank of Captain.
After the war he joined Hillman as a sales manager and in 1921 married one of the owner's daughters, (Margaret Verena b. 1887). Shortly afterwards he became joint managing director alongside his brother-in-law Spencer Wilks who had also married one of the Hillman girls (Kathleen Edith b. 1891). In 1928 he joined the boards of Humber and Commer.
In 1929, after Hillman, Humber and Commer had become part of the Rootes Group he resigned his posts and took up a new position at the Standard Motor Company and in 1933 he became managing director. With the possibility of war again looming he enthusiastically backed the government scheme for Shadow Factories and gained contracts to build and operate two.
During World War II he became chairman of the Aero Engine Committee, a role for which he gained a knighthood in 1943. In the later years of the war he organised the take over of Triumph and in 1953 he became chairman of Standard-Triumph with Alick S. Dick taking over control of day to day operations. He was injured in late 1953 in an accident when being given a demonstration of the Swallow Doretti: this affected his judgment and he was forced to resign in January 1954, officially because of his health. Shortly after Black died in 1965, his successor at the helm of Standard-Triumph recalled Black with obvious affection as an "extrovert and exciting, if somewhat controversial personality". Recalling cars introduced under Black such as the Triumph TR2, Dick candidly stated that "the emphasis was on the chassis [and on the car's performance] rather than the body. [Also] typical [of Black] was the fact that all his cars had very little leg room and lots of head room because he was a six footer with short legs".
In December 1954 Black accepted an appointment as deputy chairman of Enfield Cables Ltd. In his retirement he took up farming. He died suddenly at Cheadle Hospital, Cheadle, Cheshire on 24 December 1965 at the age of 70.
Black married Daisy Hillman, daughter of William Hillman, founder of the Hillman Motor Car Company, in 1921; the marriage was dissolved in 1939. He married again in 1943 to Alicia Joan Pears Linton, daughter of the Bishop of Persia later rector of Handsworth, with whom he had three sons. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography inaccurately identifies both father and daughter.
- "The men who mattered". Autocar: Page 56. 28 October 1971.
- "News and views". Autocar Used Car Test 1966. 124 (nbr 3647): Page 31. 7 January 1966.
- Morewood, Steven (2004), "Black, Sir John Paul (1895–1965)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ((subscription or UK public library membership required)) (online ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 15 March 2011 Check date values in:
- King 1989, p. 118
- King, Peter (1989), The Motor Men: Pioneers of the British Car Industry, Quiller Press, ISBN 1-870948-23-8