Armstrongs and Beardmores
Vickers usually represented their attempts to involve Armstrongs as a means of increasing their power to control and contain William Beardmore’s apparently boundless ambitions and therefore as being of mutual benefit to the established firms. (In fact, although they suggested to Armstrongs that one of their motives in taking a share of Beardmore was to prevent him from laying down a gun plant, the evidence suggests that they encouraged him in that step.1) Armstrongs’ board was divided in its attitude. Falkner was usually sympathetic, though he did not always accept the suggested form of association. Even Sir Andrew Noble seems to have been willing to agree. The implacable enemy was Stuart Rendel. The fact that he was the largest shareholder in Armstrongs, combined with the peculiar deference with which all his fellow directors treated him, help to explain why, in the end, though narrowly, his opposition carried the day; Vickers were left to bear the burden alone. Trebilcock has put a favourable interpretation on this outcome, ‘the cooperation was never finalised and the need for it evaporated as Beardmores’ fortunes picked up after 1910’.2 In fact a few years later Beardmore were again in financial difficulties. Trebilcock also claimed, ‘generally Beardmores were effectively domesticated and to a certain extent were also successfully employed in the harassment of Armstrongs’.
KeywordsLarge Shareholder Board Meeting Established Firm Friendly Relation Fellow Director
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