Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS1
TitlePapers of Peter Bennett
Extent3 manuscript boxes and 1 outsize box
DescriptionPersonal, political, business and other papers of and relating to Peter Frederick Blaker Bennett (1880-1957), Baron Bennett, MP and industrialist, together with some papers of Lady Bennett and of Runa Johnson, Personal Assistant to Lord Bennett
ArrangementOrganised into six series: general correspondence; official and political papers; personal papers of Lord and Lady Bennett; papers of Runa Johnson; miscellaneous papers; artefacts
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered readers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryPeter Frederick Blaker, son of Frederick Charles Bennett and his wife Annie Eliza Blaker, was born in Kent in 1880. The family moved to Birmingham in 1892 and he was educated at King Edward's School, Five Ways.

His 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 1939-40, he was director general of tanks and transport at the Ministry of Supply; from 1940-41, he served as director general of the emergency services organisation at the Ministry of Aircraft Production; and from 1941-44 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 1951-52. 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, 1935-36; president of the Federation of British Industries, 1938-39; 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's Faculty of Engineering, the YMCA and other institutions.

He died on 27 September 1957 at his home in Four Oaks leaving his wife, Agnes, whom he married in 1905.

[Information largely extracted from Bennett's entry in DNB 1951-1960]
Custodial HistoryNo information available
AcquisitionThese papers were presented to the University Library by Miss Runa Johnson, Lord Bennett's personal assistant in 1989. A published notice about the gift appeared in the University of Birmingham 'Bulletin', No 637, 9 Oct 1989


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