Albert Stanley, 1st Baron Ashfield

Albert Stanley, 1st Baron Ashfield

Infobox Person
name = Baron Ashfield

caption = Baron Ashfield and his daughter Marion at the reopening of the City and South London Railway, 1 December 1924
birth_date = 8 August 1874
birth_place = New Normanton, Derbyshire
death_date = 4 November 1948
death_place = London
education =
title = Chairman of Underground Electric Railways Company of London Limited/London Passenger Transport Board
predecessor = Thomas Farrer, 2nd Baron Farrer
successor = Charles Latham, 1st Baron Latham
occupation = Businessman
spouse =
parents =
children = 2

Albert Henry Stanley, 1st Baron Ashfield, PC, TD (8 August 1874 – 4 November 1948) was managing director, then chairman of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London and later chairman of the London Passenger Transport Board during the London Underground's greatest period of expansion.

Early life


He was born Albert Henry Knattriess on 8 August 1874 in New Normanton, Derbyshire, England, the sone of Henry and Elizabeth Knattreiss (née Twigg). His father worked as a coachbuilder for the Pullman Company and, in 1880, the family emigrated to the Detroit in the United States where he worked at the main factory. In the mid-1890s, the family changed its name to "Stanley".Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]

On 5 December 1904 in Milwaukee, Stanley married Grace Lowrey of New York. The couple had two daughters:cite web
url =
title = Sir Albert Henry Stanley, 1st and last Baron Ashfield
work =
accessdate = 2008-09-21
*Grace Stanley
*Marion Woodruff Stanley

Career in Detroit and New Jersey

In 1888 at the age of 14, Stanley left school and went to work at the Detroit Street Railways Company, a horse-drawn tram system, as an office boy. He continued to study at evening school and worked long hours, often from 7.30 am to 10.00 pm.Bridges & Tiltman 1928, p. 14.] His abilities were recognised early and Stanley was given responsibility for time tables when he was 17. Following the expansion and electrification of the tramway , he became General Superintendent of the company when he was 20 in 1894.Bridges & Tiltman 1928, p. 17.] Wolmar 2004, p. 199.]

Stanley was a naval reservist, and, during the brief Spanish–American War of 1898, he served in the United States Navy as a Landsman in the crew of "USS Yosemite" alongside many others from Detroit.cite web
url =
title = The Spanish American War Centennial Website, The Crew of the USS Yosemite
accessdate = 2008-09-21
] In 1903, Stanley moved to New Jersey to become assistant general manager of the street railway department of the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey. The company had been struggling, but Stanley quickly improved its organisation and was promoted to general manager of the department in January 1904. In January 1907, he became general manager of the whole corporation running a network of almost 1,000 route miles and 25,000 employees.

Career in Britain

Rescue of the Underground Electric Railways Company

On 20 February 1907, Sir George Gibb, managing director, of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) appointed Stanley as its general manager.Wolmar 2004, p. 196.] The UERL was the holding company of four underground railway companies in central London. Three of these (the Metropolitan District Railway, the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway and the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway) were already in operation and the fourth (the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway) was about to open. The UERL had been established by American financier Charles Yerkes and much of the finance and equipment had been from the United States, so Stanley's experience of managing urban transit systems in that country made him an ideal candidate for the position. The cost of constructing three new lines in just a few years had put the company in a precarious monetary position and income was not sufficient to pay the interest on its loans. Stanley's role was to restore the finances.

Only recently promoted to general manager of the New Jersey system, Stanley had been reluctant to take the position in London and took it for one year only, provided he would be free to return to America at the end of the year. He told the company's senior managers that the company was almost bankrupt and got resignation letters from each of them post-dated by six months.Wolmar 2004, p. 200.] Bridges & Tiltman 1928, p. 18.] By improving the integration of the separate companies within the group and improving advertising and public relations, he was quickly able to turn the fortunes of the company around and, in 1910, he became managing director of the company – commonly known as the Underground Group.

With Commercial Manager Frank Pick, Stanley instigated a plan to increase passenger numbers. Part of this plan was the extension of the existing Underground Group's lines into new, undeveloped areas beyond the central area. The first of these, the extension of the Bakerloo Line to Queen's Park to provide a connection with the London and North Western Railway, opened in 1915. The other expansion plans were postponed during the First World War.

The consolidation of London's underground railways under one management was brought closer by the Underground Group's take over of the Central London Railway and the City and South London Railway in 1913. Only the Metropolitan Railway (and its subsidiaries the Great Northern & City Railway and the East London Railway) and the Waterloo & City Railway remained outside of the Underground Group's control. On 29 July 1914, Stanley was knighted in recognition of his services to transport.LondonGazette


In 1915, Stanley was given a role managing motor transport at the Ministry of Munitions. In 1916, Stanley was selected by Prime Minister David Lloyd George to become President of the Board of Trade. Lloyd George had previously promised this role to Sir Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook), member of parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne. At that time, a member of parliament taking a cabinet post for the first time had to resign and stand for re-election in a by-election. Aitken had made arrangements to do this before Lloyd George decided to appoint Stanley to the position instead. Aitken, a friend of Stanley, was persuaded to resign in exchange for a peerage so that Stanley could take his seat.Blake 1955, pp. 346-347.] Stanley became President of the Board of Trade and was made a Privy Counsellor on 13 December 1916.LondonGazette
] He was elected to parliament unopposed on 23 December 1916.

At the 1918 general election, Stanley was opposed by T. F. Lister, the President of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers, in a challenge over the government's policy on War Pensions. With the backing of Beaverbrook, who visited his former constituency to speak on his behalf, Stanley won the election.Wootton 1963, pp. 204-205.]

Stanley's achievements in office were mixed. Despite his previous successes with unions, his negotiations were ineffective. Writing to former Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law in January 1919, Lloyd George described Stanley as having "all the glibness of Runciman and that is apt to take in innocent persons like you and me... Stanley, to put it quite bluntly, is a funk, and there is no room for funks in the modern world."Lloyd George letter to Bonar Law, 29 January 1919 – quoted in Morgan 1979, p. 51.] Stanley left the Board of Trade and the government in May 1919 and returned to the UERL.

Return to the Underground

Back at the Underground Group he returned to his role as managing director and also became its chairman replacing Baron Farrer who had held the position since the resignation of Sir Edgar Speyer in 1915. In the 1920 New Year Honours,LondonGazette
] he was created Baron Ashfield of Southwell in the County of Nottingham, ending his term as an MP. Stanley and Pick reactivated their expansion plans and one of the most significant periods in the organisation's history began, subsequently sometimes called "The Golden Age".

The Central London Railway was extended to Ealing Broadway in 1920, The Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway was extended to Hendon in 1923 and to Edgware in 1924. The City and South London Railway was reconstructed with larger diameter tunnels to take modern trains between 1922 and 1924 and extended to Morden in 1926. In addition a process of modernising many of the Underground's busiest central London stations was started; providing them with escalators to replace lifts. New rolling stock was gradually introduced with automatic sliding doors at points along the length of the carriage instead of manual end gates. By the middle of the 1920s, the organisation had expanded to such an extent that a large, new headquarters building was constructed at 55 Broadway over St. James's Park station.

In 1928 Stanley relinquished the role of managing director to Pick, retaining the position of chairman. Having long seen the need for an integrated transport system in London, he was, with Transport Minister Herbert Morrison, instrumental in the foundation of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB), responsible for managing all London's transportation needs. He served as the organisation's chairman from its establishment in 1933, with Pick as managing director.

The opening of extensions of the Piccadilly line to Uxbridge, Hounslow and Cockfosters followed in 1933. In 1935, the availability of government-backed loans to stimulate the flagging economy allowed Stanley and Pick to promote system-wide improvements under the New Works Programme for 1935–1940, including the transfer of Stanmore Metropolitan line services to the Bakerloo line in 1939, the Northern line's Northern Heights project and extension of the Central line to Ongar and Denham. Much of the works were interrupted by the Second World War and were not completed before his retirement in 1947.

In 1948, the year Stanley died, the LPTB was nationalised along with the majority of British railway, bus, road haulage and waterway concerns. The LPTB became the London Transport Executive under the British Transport Commission.

During his forty-year tenure as managing director and chairman of the Underground Group and the LTPB, Stanley oversaw the transformation of a collection of unconnected, competing railway companies in severe financial difficulties into a coherent and well managed transport organisation, internationally respected for its technical expertise and design style.

Other activities

In addition to his management of London Underground and brief political career, Stanley held directorships of the Midland Bank and Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). During the First World War, he was Colonel of the Territorial Force Engineer and Railway Staff Corps.

A memorial to Stanley was erected at 55 Broadway in 1950 and a blue plaque was placed at his home, 43 South Street, Mayfair in 1984 [ English Heritage, List of plaques] ] . It reads:

:Albert Henry Stanley, Lord Ashfield (1874–1948), First Chairman of London Transport, lived here.

A large office building at London Underground's Lillie Bridge Depot is named Ashfield House in his honour. It stands to the south of the District Line tracks a short distance to the east of West Kensington station and is also visible from West Cromwell Road (A4).



*wikicite|id=ONDB|reference=cite web
title= Albert Henry Stanley (1874–1948)
accessdate= 2008-09-20
last= Barker
year= 2004
work= Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
publisher= Oxford University Press
doi= 10.1093/ref:odnb/36241

*wikicite|id=blake|reference=cite book
last = Blake
first = Robert
title = The Unknown Prime Minister: The Life and Times of Andrew Bonar Law, 1858–1923
publisher = Eyre & Spottiswoode

*wikicite|id=KoC|reference=cite book
title= Kings of Commerce
author= Bridges, Thomas Charles and Tiltman, Hubert Hessell
year= 1928
chapter="Do Your Job the Best You Know How", The Story of Lord Ashfield
publisher= George G. Harrap & Co

*wikicite|id=morgan|reference=cite book
title= Consensus and Disunity, The Lloyd George Coalition Government of 1918-1922
accessdate= 2008-09-20
last= Morgan
first=Kenneth O.
authorlink = Kenneth O. Morgan
year= 1979
publisher= Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press

*wikicite|id=wolmar|reference=cite book
last = Wolmar
first = Christian
authorlink = Christian Wolmar
title = The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever
publisher = Atlantic Books

*wikicite|id=wootton|reference=cite book
title= The Politics of Influence
accessdate= 2008-09-20
last= Wootton
year= 1963
publisher= Routledge

* [ Exploring 20th Century London - Albert Stanley]

External links

* [ London Transport Museum Photographic Archive]
** ltmcollection|93/i0000c93.jpg| Albert Henry Stanley, 1907
** ltmcollection|o2/i00004o2.jpg|Lord Ashfield (right) with Frank Pick, 1923
** ltmcollection|o4/i00004o4.jpg|Memorial to Lord Ashfield at 55 Broadway, erected 1950
** [*sform=search_form&_IXSPFX_=summary%2Fb&_IXFPFX_=full%2Ft&_IXMAXHITS_=15&IXsearch=ashfield&IXfromdate=&IXtodate=&_IXx_.x=0&_IXx_.y=0&_IXx_=search&IXlocation=&IXsort=sort+select%28lcase%28production_role%29%3D%3D%22photographer%22%2Cproduction_date_from%29&IXsubject=&_IXsubject= Other images of Lord Ashfield]
* [ National Portrait Gallery]
** [ Photograph of Lord Ashfield by Howard Coster, 1936]
** [ Caricature by Anthony Wysard of Lord Ashfield asleep in the lap of Jacob Epstein's controversial statute , 1938]

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