Donald Stokes, Baron Stokes

Donald Stokes, Baron Stokes

Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron Stokes (22 March 1914 – 21 July 2008) was an English industrialist. He was the head of British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd (BL) from 1968 to 1975.


Life and career

Stokes was born in Plymouth, and educated at Blundell's School in Tiverton, Devon. In 1930 he commenced an engineering apprenticeship with Leyland Motors, which included further education at the Harris Institute of Technology in Preston. During the Second World War, Stokes served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Excepting the break for military service between 1939 and 1945, Stokes stayed with Leyland throughout his career. In 1968 he was appointed chairman and managing director of British Leyland, a challenging role much in the public eye at the time.

In 1977 Michael Edwardes was appointed Chief Executive at British Leyland, but Stokes remained on the board till 1979. Stokes was made a Life Peer in 1969 and sat as a Crossbencher in the House of Lords. By the time he died he had become the second eldest member.

On 13 June 1972 Stokes was made a Commandre de l'Ordre de Leopold II in recognition of his services to the Belgian economy. The ceremony took place at Seneffe (between Brussels and Mons) where a new extension to the British Leyland plant was being inaugurated.[1]

Lord Stokes died on July 21, 2008, aged 94.[2]

British Leyland under Stokes

Stokes was essentially a salesman, and while he successfully led Leyland-Triumph in the period up to 1968, never really got to grips with the scale and politics of British Leyland, which now incorporated BMC, Rover, Jaguar and related commercial vehicle brands. His efforts to bring in senior executives from competitors were only partially successful, and persistent infighting (such as the refusal of Triumph to accept the Rover V8 engine for the Stag convertible, and the discrimination against MG in allocating investment funding in favour of Triumph) sapped the competitive position of the new business.

Both before and during his period of leadership, the British motor industry suffered from poor profitability, which went hand in hand with chronic under-investment in production technologies and facilities. In 1975, towards the end of Stokes' time at the helm of the company, a journalist compared the published number of employees and the published number of cars produced by various auto-makers, Toyota produced 36 cars per employee while Honda produced nearly 23: BLMC produced slightly more than 4 car per employee in 1975 as against more than 7 for Ford's UK plants. Factors such as the variable extent of dependence on brought-in sub-assemblies made the comparison imperfect, but the continuing lack of profitability resulting from continuing failure to invest intelligently in up to date production processes was all too real.[3] This was a part of the background to BL's famously awful industrial relations during the 1970s. Characteristic BL introductions included the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro inspired respectively by the more thoughtfully developed and charismatic Ford Cortina and Citroën GS competitor products.


  1. ^ "Deeper into Europe". Autocar 136 (nbr 3975): pages 2–3. date 22 June 1972. 
  2. ^ "Lord Stokes: chairman of British Leyland". Times, The (London). July 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  3. ^ "Japanese dumping: is it a fallacy?". The Motor: page 51. 29 May 1976. 

External links and sources

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Robert Lank Lickley
President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Succeeded by
Sir John William Atwell

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Donald Stokes — Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron Stokes (* 22. März 1914; † 21. Juli 2008) war ein britischer Industrieller. Karriere Stokes begann seine Karriere 1930 als Auszubildender bei Leyland Motors Ltd und (mit Unterbrechung für den Militärdienst von 1939… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Stokes, Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron — ▪ British automobile executive in full  Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron Stokes of Leyland  born March 22, 1914, London, Eng. died July 21, 2008, Poole, Dorset       British automobile executive who presided over the merger that resulted in British… …   Universalium

  • Stokes of Leyland, Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron — ▪ 2009       British automobile executive born March 22, 1914, London, Eng. died July 21, 2008, Poole, Dorset, Eng. presided over the government backed merger (1968) between Leyland Motor Corp. and British Motor Holdings Ltd. that resulted in the …   Universalium

  • List of Conservative Party (UK) MPs — This is a list of Conservative Party MPs. It includes all Members of Parliament elected to the British House of Commons representing the Conservative Party from 1834 onwards. Members of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the European… …   Wikipedia

  • Dule Tree — Dule or dool trees in Britain were used as gallows for public hangings.[1] They were also used as gibbets for the display of the corpse for a considerable period of time after such hangings. These Trees of Lamentation or Grief were usually… …   Wikipedia

  • Deaths in July 2008 — Contents 1 July 2008 1.1 31 1.2 30 1.3 29 …   Wikipedia

  • Nekrolog 3. Quartal 2008 — Nekrolog ◄◄ | ◄ | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 Nekrolog 2008: 1. Quartal | 2. Quartal | 3. Quartal | 4. Quartal Weitere Ereignisse | Nekrolog (Tiere) |… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • political science — political scientist. a social science dealing with political institutions and with the principles and conduct of government. [1770 80] * * * Academic discipline concerned with the empirical study of government and politics. Political scientists… …   Universalium

  • University of Central Lancashire — Motto Latin: Ex solo ad solem Motto in English From the Ground to the Sun Established …   Wikipedia

  • Blundell's School — Infobox UK school name = Blundell s School size = latitude = 50.906499 longitude = 3.466174 dms = motto = Pro Patria Populoque ( For the country and the people ) motto pl = established = 1604 approx = closed = c approx = type = Public school… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.