Papers of Alan Vyvyan Symons

  • Reference
      GB 133 AVS
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      0.5 li.m. 13 items
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

This archive contains minutes, reports, papers and printed material describing the activities of three of the committees that Symons was a member of, namely: The Raw Cotton Commission, The Cotton Import (Review) Committee, and The Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries. Some of the papers have been annotated by Symons and there is also a small quantity of his hand written notes. The archive provides a valuable insight into the workings of government committees and government policy at the time. The Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries papers particularly so, in terms of gaining an understanding of how the findings of the Franks Report influenced the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1958. The cotton commissions' papers give a good overview of Britain's post war cotton industry, with particular reference to the North West of England.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alan Vyvyan Symons was born on 22 November 1902 in Bradford in Yorkshire, son of William Wallace Symons. He was educated at Bradford Grammar School. He studied classics at Peterhouse, Cambridge from 1921-1924.

Symons joined the Manchester based cotton manufacturers, Tootal Broadhurst Lee & Co. in 1925, and was made a director in 1939. He was chairman of Tootals from 1952-1957. After being forced to resign as chairman of Tootals, he was made chairman of Bradford Dyers, part of the Hyman Group; later he played a major part in attempts to rationalise the British textile industry in the 1960s. Symons was active in industry bodies and government-appointed committees: he was a member of the Cotton Industry Working Party and the Cotton Board, as well as of the Raw Cotton Commission and the Cotton Import (Review) Committee.

The Raw Cotton Commission (1947-54) was set up under the provisions of the Cotton (Centralised Buying) Act, 1947, and from 1 January 1948 was responsible for the buying, importing, holding and distribution of raw cotton. The commission's offices were based in the Cotton Exchange, Liverpool. The Act provided for the appointment by the Board of Trade of a Chairman of the Commission, one or two full-time independent members, who had specialised knowledge of the cotton industry, up to ten part-time members, most of whom also had specialised knowledge of some branch of the industry, and two trade union representatives. Mr. H.O.R. Hindley was appointed Chairman. The Commission continued to operate until 31 August 1954 from which date The Cotton Act, 1954, provided for a return to private buying.

The Cotton Import (Review) Committee (1953) was a government committee, set up by the Board of Trade's Ministry of Materials (1939-1958). The commission was established with the following terms of reference, 'To consider whether, within the framework of the Report of the Cotton Import Committee (1952), any change would be desirable in the obligations and duties at present imposed on the Raw Cotton Commission, with respect in particular to the supply of cotton and provision of cover to the United Kingdom cotton industry; and to make recommendations'. The chairman of the committee was Sir Richard Hopkins formerly Chair of the Cotton Import Committee, 1952. The committee met fortnightly from 17th March 1953 to consider evidence for the Board of Trade and Ministry of Material report. This report was commonly known as the Hopkins report.

Symons was also a member of the Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries (1955-1958), appointed on 1 November 1955, under the chairmanship of Sir Oliver Franks. The committee was established to report on the conduct of administrative tribunals, following concerns about their procedures and supervision in light of the Crichel Down Affair. The Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries' terms of reference were to consider and make recommendations on: a) the constitution and working of tribunals other than the ordinary courts of law, and b) the working of such administrative procedures as the holding of an enquiry or hearing by or on behalf of a minister; an appeal or objections or representations, and in particular the procedure for the compulsory purchase of land. The main recommendation of the Committee was the establishment of standing Councils on Tribunals, one for England and Wales and one for Scotland, which would keep the constitution and working of tribunals under continuous review. The Committee also recommended greater transparency in the workings of these tribunals. These recommendations were published on 15 July 1957 as the Report of the Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries (Cmnd. 218) (commonly known as the Franks Report). Some of the committee's recommendations were later given statutory force by the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1958 and resulted in the establishment of the Council on Tribunals.

Symons was also an active lay figure at the University of Manchester. He succeeded Raymond Streat as Treasurer of the University (1957-65), and was Chair of the Council (1965-1972). He was re-appointed as Treasurer (1972-75) and remained connected to the University until 1979. Streat considered him "one of the most effective and firmest lay officers in the University's history" (excerpt from 'Lancashire and Whitehall: The Diary of Sir E. Raymond StreatVolume 2). The University awarded him a honorary degree in recognition of this work. Symons lived for most of his life between the towns of Knutsford and Altrincham in Cheshire. He died on 5 October 1995.


Arranged chronologically, where known and then divided into the following series: · · · Archival History

  • AVS/1 - The Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries
  • AVS/2 - The Cotton Import (Review) Committee
  • AVS/3 - The Raw Cotton Commission

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Acquisition Information

This collection originally formed part of the papers of Alan Vyvyan Symons (1902-1995), and was donated to the University by Symons in 1975.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

The collection was appraised in June 2013 to ascertain what material was already held by The National Archives under the Public Records Act 1958 (PRA). TNA staff confirmed that the official papers in this collection were represented in public records. It was decided that duplicate material, unless specifically annotated by Symons was disposed of, The files of the Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries were transferred from the Lord Chancellor's Office and form an important record which helps illuminate government policy at the time, why it look these decisions and how it implemented prevailing policy. The recommendations of the Franks Report supported the drafting of primary legislation in the Tribunal and Enquiries Act 1958. Much of the Symons papers of The Commission of Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries papers were found to be duplicates and were therefore disposed of. A similar appraisal was made of the Symons material relating to the Board of Trade's Raw Cotton Commission files and the Ministry of Material's Cotton Import (Research) Committee papers, which were transferred to The National Archives. Some of these papers were found to be duplicates and were disposed of. Appraisal report available.


None expected.

Related Material

The records of the Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries are held at the National Archives, ref: LCO15/1-LCO15/74. Raw Cotton Commission's records are also held at the National Archives, ref: BT134/1-4, BT161/62, and ref: BT161/69-71. Cotton Import (Research) Committee papers from the Ministry of Materials for this period are held at The National Archives, ref: BT161/58.

The archives of Tootal Broadhurst Lee Co Ltd, for whom Symons worked for many years, are held by Manchester Archives and Local Studies M461.


Symons is mentioned briefly in relation to his resignation from Tootal in Raymond Streat's diary, Lancashire and Whitehall: the diary of Sir Raymond Streat, ed. M. Dupree, 2 vols. (1987). Streat's diaries are also generally informative about government-industry relations in the cotton industry in the post-war period.