Arthur Du Cros

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Arthur du Cros in 1913

Sir Arthur Philip Du Cros, 1st Baronet[1] (26 January 1871 – 28 October 1955) was a British industrialist and politician.

Early life and business career[edit]

Du Cros was born in Dublin on 26 January 1871, the third of seven sons of Harvey du Cros and his wife Annie Jane Roy. In his childhood, his father was only a bookkeeper with an income of £170 a year and Arthur grew up in modest circumstances. He attended a national school in Dublin and entered the civil service at the lowest-paid grade. In 1892 he joined his father and brothers in Dublin's Pneumatic Tyre and Booth's Cycle Agency. This business had been set up in 1889 by Harvey du Cros and J B Dunlop to exploit Dunlop's pneumatic tyre. Arthur was made general manager.

His brothers had been or were later sent to Europe and America to develop their family's pneumatic tyre interests there. Arthur married Maude Gooding, the daughter of a Coventry watch manufacturer in 1895. They had two sons and two daughters before a divorce in 1923.

After J B Dunlop retired in 1895. Terah Hooley bought the business, now named Pneumatic Tyre Co, in 1896 for £3 million and for a return of £5 million floated a new listed company on the stock market to own it. Hooley called the new company The Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company though J B Dunlop had no financial link to it. Arthur was made a joint managing director alongside his father but Harvey du Cros was also chairman.[2]

From 1890 Pneumatic Tyre and Booth's Cycle Agency (later Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company) made its (cycle) tyres in Coventry by assembling bought-in components on its own machines and through its 1894 investment in Byrne Brothers also made cycle tyres in Birmingham. Byrne Brothers was renamed Rubber Manufacturing Company in 1896 and again, in 1900, renamed Dunlop Rubber Company. By 1914, 4,000 were employed at Castle Bromwich and 12,000 in 1927 when Dunlop controlled 90 percent of national tyre production though imports limited their share of tyre sales to 60 percent.[3]

In August 1912 the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company went out of business though retaining certain financial commitments. It passed its activities to Dunlop Rubber in exchange for shares. Then it changed its name to The Parent Tyre Company Limited. Dunlop Rubber purchased certain of its assets including goodwill and trading rights and in exchange the tyre company shareholders now owned three-quarters of Dunlop Rubber. The amalgamation was intended to bring about a substantial reduction in overhead and clarify what had been seen as a confusing relationship between the two enterprises when they shared most shareholders.[4]

Arthur du Cros was made managing director and deputy chairman in 1912 and retained that position after his father's death in 1918 when A L Ormrod became chairman until 1921. During the period when he was chief executive, his family interests dominated the board and this period featured much financial impropriety. He found it difficult to distinguish between personal and company assets, using company funds to sponsor family investments and appointing family members to senior positions without regard for merit. He also participated in financial manipulation as a close associate of James White, a financier who specialised in share rigging and whose actions left Dunlop close to bankruptcy in 1921. Du Cros had already lost influence within the company and was dismissed after the 1921 depression.[2]

In 1928 Sir Arthur and his brothers Alfred and George finally resigned as president, vice-president and director of Dunlop though they had been on leave of absence from the board since March 1924.[5]

He had made personal investments with Clarence Hatry. The collapse of Hatry's group in 1929 and subsequent criminal fraud proceedings cost du Cros's personal company £3 million. Du Cros's personal fortunes never recovered.[2]

He died at home near Watford, Hertfordshire on 28 October 1955 aged 84 and was interred in Finstock, Oxfordshire.[2]

Political career[edit]

Arthur Du Cros, Vanity Fair, 1910

In 1906 Du Cros entered politics, unsuccessfully contesting the seat of Bow & Bromley as a Conservative candidate, a seat to which his brother was elected in 1910. In 1908 he was elected Member of Parliament for Hastings, immediately succeeding his father in that position.[2]

In 1909 he formed (and was the director of) the Parliamentary Aerial Defence Committee to ensure funding for military aeronautical development, of which he was a strong proponent. During the First World War he worked for the Ministry of Munitions on an honorary basis, buying two motorised ambulance convoys with his own money and helping form an infantry battalion, being a former captain of the Royal Warwickshires and for some years being the honorary colonel of the 8th battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

After the death of Edward VII, Daisy Warwick attempted to blackmail King George V by threatening to release to the press love letters that she claimed proved Edward VII's adultery. When the High Court restrained her from publishing the letters in Britain, she threatened to sell them to American media. In 1914 Du Cros offered to pay £64,000 (2012: £6,190,545) worth of Daisy's debts in return for the letters, and for his generosity he was created a baronet in 1916.[6][7] He continued to represent Hastings until 1918, when he was elected as a Member of Parliament for Clapham, a position he resigned four years later.

House attacked by suffragettes[edit]

On 14 April 1913 a house belonging to Du Cros at St Leonards-on-Sea, close to Hastings, was burnt down by suffragettes angry at his opposition to votes for women.[8] Contemporary newsreels reported the estimated cost of the damage to be £10,000.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Different members of the family spelled their surname as "Du Cros" or "du Cros", but the sources indicate that Sir Arthur spelled his name in the former manner.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hamilton-Edwards, G. K. S.; rev. Jones, Geoffrey (2004), "Du Cros, Sir Arthur Philip, first baronet (1871–1955)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 10 March 2011 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  3. ^ Victoria County History, A History of the County of Warwick volume 7, the City of Birmingham. London 1964
  4. ^ Amalgamation approved. Dunlop Rubber Company (Limited). The Times, Saturday, Aug 31, 1912; pg. 13; Issue 39992
  5. ^ Keith Grieves, Sir Eric Geddes: Business and Government in War and Peace Manchester NY 1989 ISBN 9780719023453
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29730. p. 8592. 1 September 1916.
  7. ^ Ridley, Jane (2012). Bertie: A Life of Edward VII. Random House. pp. 489–490. ISBN 9781448161119. 
  8. ^ "Heritage Images-The house of Mr Arthur du Cros at St Leonards, Hastings, burnt down by suffragettes, April 1913". 
  9. ^ "British pathe- Du Clos house". 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harvey du Cros
Member of Parliament for Hastings
1908–1918
Succeeded by
Laurance Lyon
Preceded by
Harry Greer
Member of Parliament for Clapham
1918–1922
Succeeded by
John Leigh
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Canons)
1916–1955
Succeeded by
Harvey Du Cros