Papers of Peter Bennett

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The papers relate to Bennett's political, industrial and personal life. Comprising: General correspondence, 1951-1957.

Official and Political Papers: relating to the Emergency Service Organisation, 1940-1945; the Automatic Gun Board, 1941-1944; the Ministry of Production Sub-Committee on Scientific and Optical Instruments, 1939-1944; papers relating to General Elections, 1945-1951; texts of official speeches by Bennett, 195?-1956; printed and other material relating to attendance at official ceremonies, 1945-196l; news cuttings relating to business and political interests, 1940-1955; photographs, 1940s-1950s.

Personal Papers of Lord and Lady Bennett: including Christmas cards, 1937-1956; correspondence, 1948-1955; miscellaneous papers relating to Lady Bennett, 1958-1969.

Papers of Runa Johnson, Bennett's personal assistant in 1980: Biographical memoirs of Bennett; correspondence and other papers (most of the correspondence post-dates the death of Peter Bennett, 1958-1984.

Miscellaneous Papers: Relating to the history of Joseph Lucas Ltd, 1939-1978; miscellaneous correspondence, 1959-1965; photographs; artifacts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Peter Frederick Blaker Bennett, 1880-1957, Baron Bennett of Edgbaston, MP and Industrialist. Educated at King Edward's School, Five Ways, Birmingham.

Bennett's life long connection with the motor industry began in 1903 when he joined the Electrical Ignition Company. He subsequently left the firm and entered into partnership with James Albert Thomson under the name Thomson Bennett Ltd. In 1914 this company amalgamated with Joseph Lucas Ltd for the manufacture of combined ignition and lighting systems for cars, tanks and aircraft. The success of the firm owed much to Bennett and his joint managing director, Oliver Lucas. On the latter's death in 1948, Bennett became chairman and managing director of the Joseph Lucas group of companies.

From 1938 until war broke out, Bennett was a member of the Prime Minister's panel of industrial advisers. In 1939-1940, he was director general of tanks and transport at the Ministry of Supply; from 1940-1941, he served as director general of the emergency services organisation at the Ministry of Aircraft Production; and from 1941-1944 he was chairman of the Automatic Gun Board.

In 1940 Bennett was elected as member of Parliament for the Edgbaston division of Birmingham in succession to Neville Chamberlain and held this seat as a Conservative until 1953. He served as parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Labour in 1951-1952. He was knighted in 1941 and was raised to the peerage in 1953.

Other offices held by Bennett and his many activities and interests included: president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 1935-1936; president of the Federation of British Industries, 1938-1939; president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 1932; a governor of the University of Birmingham which conferred on him an honorary LLD in 1950 on the occasion of the University's Golden Jubilee; president of the Birmingham YMCA and of the Birmingham General Dispensary; president of the Warwickshire County Cricket Club, 1955; and county commissioner of the Boy Scout movement. He was also a generous benefactor of the University of Birmingham Faculty of Engineering, the YMCA and other institutions.

Reference: Finding aid to the Bennett Papers.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in four broad series: Official and political papers; personal papers of Lord and Lady Bennett; papers of Runa Johnson; miscellaneous papers.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

This collection was presented to the University Library by Miss Runa Johnson.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue to file and item level is available in electronic format on the University of Birmingham website at http://calmview.bham.ac.uk/

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Accruals

Further deposits are not expected.