John Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth

John Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth
Born John Davenpornt Siddeley
(1866-08-05)5 August 1866
Longsight, Manchester, UK
Died 3 November 1953(1953-11-03) (aged 87)
Spouse(s) Sarah Mabel Goodier
Children 3 sons and 2 daughters

John Davenport Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth CBE (5 August 1866 – 3 November 1953), was a pioneer of the motor industry in the United Kingdom manufacturing aero engines and air frames as well as motor vehicles.[1]

Gatehouse, Kenilworth Castle


The eldest son of William Siddeley and his wife born Elizabeth Davenport, J D Siddeley was born in Longsight, Manchester in 1866 and first worked for his father as an apprentice hosier but took night classes in draughting. In 1892, the young bicycle racer and designer was hired as a draughtsman by the Humber Cycle Company. The then managing director of Dunlop picked him out at Humber and hired Siddeley as Dunlop's Belfast sales manager. In 1900 as managing director of Dunlop's Midlands subsidiary Clipper Tyre Company he gained prominence in the motor industry by driving a 6 hp Daimler car through England's Thousand Miles Trial with marked success.[1][2] This followed cycling from Land's End to John o' Groats to publicise the new pneumatic tyre.[3]

He married Sarah Mabel Goodier, daughter of James Goodier of Macclesfield, in 1893 and they lived in Belfast for a short time but by August 1894, they were living in Meriden, Coventry where eldest son, Cyril, was born. They were to have three sons and two daughters.[1]


Siddeley founded his Siddeley Autocar Company in 1902 to manufacture cars to Peugeot designs.[1] He had Peugeot-based demonstration cars at the Crystal Palace in 1903. By 1905, the company had a dozen models for sale and some of them were built for him at Vickers' Crayford, Kent factory.

During 1905 Wolseley—which then dominated the UK car market—purchased the goodwill and patent rights of his Siddeley Autocar Company business[4] and appointed Siddeley London sales manager of Herbert Austin's The Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company Limited owned by Vickers, Sons and Maxim. A few months later Herbert Austin left Wolseley to found his own Austin Motor Company and Siddeley was appointed manager of Wolseley in his place and, without authority, added Siddeley to the badge on the Wolseley cars.

He resigned from Wolseley in 1909 to go into partnership with H P P Deasy and manage the Deasy Motor Company, also of Coventry.[1][2]

Wartime expansion

By 1912, when Deasy resigned because of his ill-health,[2] Siddeley had added his name to the Deasy product's radiator. In November 1912 Deasy's business became—by popular vote of the shareholders—Siddeley-Deasy. During World War I it grew rapidly producing aircraft engines and airframes with the assistance of distinguished staff from the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough as well as motor vehicles including ambulances[1] using Rover chassis and Daimler and Aster engines and employed around 5,000 workers.[5] He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1918 New Year Honours for his efforts during the First World War.[6]

In 1918 John Siddeley and his family moved to Crackley Hall, Kenilworth later St Joseph's School and now Crackley Hall School.

Postwar expansion

Armstrong Siddeley Developments

Armstrong Whitworth formed a new holding company, Armstrong Whitworth Development Company (later Armstrong Siddeley Development Company) to carry out the takeover of Siddeley Deasy.[7]

Armstrong Siddeley Motors

Siddeley arranged a takeover of Siddeley-Deasy's motorcar, aircraft engine and aircraft business by Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth and Co Ltd and its amalgamation with the AW motor department in 1919 and they renamed their new entity Armstrong Siddeley Motors.[1][7] It was to continue until 1960.

Armstrong-Whitworth Aircraft

Siddeley's new holding company established Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft in July 1920.[7]

Next Siddeley took advantage of parent companies Armstrong's and Vickers' financial difficulties of the mid 1920s[8] and by 1927 he had gained control of all three Siddeley businesses[1][7] and he remained their chairman until 1935 when, at the age of 70, he arranged his last takeover with Hawker Aircraft who formed Hawker Siddeley though the Siddeley businesses kept their identities. He received "£1 million and numerous benefits".[1]


Siddeley was knighted in 1932 when he served as High Sheriff of Warwickshire. Sir John Siddeley was elected president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for 1937-1938[9] - the highest honour the British Motor Industry could bestow.[2] That same year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Kenilworth, of Kenilworth in the County of Warwick.[10][11] He was also elected president of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors for 1932-1933[12]—now Society of British Aerospace Companies— and elected president of the Engineering and Allied Employers' National Federation for 1935-1936.[13]

On his retirement he bought and gave to the nation the historic Kenilworth Castle. To commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937, Lord Kenilworth also made a gift of £100,000 to Fairbridge Farm Schools, a charity to offer opportunities and education abroad to young people from broken homes.[2]

After his retirement he moved to Jersey where he died in November 1953, a few days after his wife, aged 87, a voluntary tax exile and a rich man.[1]

He was succeeded in the barony by his son Cyril.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Morewood, Steven (2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Lord Kenilworth. The Times Wednesday, 4 November 1953; pg. 10; Issue 52770.
  3. BBC Radio 4, Midweek, 27 April 2011, Interview with John Randle Siddeley, 4th Baron Kenilworth
  4. from City Notes. The Times, Saturday, 30 April 1927; pg. 18; Issue 44569
  5. The Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30460. p. 371. 7 January 1918.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Armstrong Whitworth Development Company. The Times, Tuesday, 15 March 1927; pg. 24; Issue 44530.
  8. Terms of theFusion. Armstrong's And Vickers.The Times, Saturday, 19 November 1927; pg. 21; Issue 44743.
  9. Miscellaneous Notices. The Times, Saturday, 1 May 1937; pg. 23; Issue 47673
  10. The Coronation Honours. The Times, Tuesday, 11 May 1937; pg. 17; Issue 47681
  11. The London Gazette: no. 34410. p. 4010. 22 June 1937.
  12. News in Brief. The Times, Monday, 1 August 1932; pg. 8; Issue 46200
  13. News in Brief. The Times, Friday, 1 March 1935; pg. 8; Issue 47001
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Kenilworth
Succeeded by
Cyril Davenport Siddeley
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