Dudley Docker

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Dudley Docker was a midlands industrialist and early lobbyist for business power.

Dudley Docker (1862-1944) was one of the most powerful European businessmen of his era, through his secretiveness and taste for intrigue served to obscure his importance. This book is a feat of detection and historical reconstruction which establishes him as a figure of substantial influence.[1]

Docker on the rise

1906 was a decisive year for BSA, Sir Hallewell Rogers became Chairman and Docker joined the board. Rogers was a well established Birmingham businessman and a former Lord Mayor of the city. He had joined the BSA board in 1904 and was rapidly elevated to the chairmanship. Rogers brought to the company an expertise in finance (and no doubt was familiar with secret reserves), having been a director of the Birmingham and District Banking Company [see Davenport-Hines, 1984, p.48; 1985, pp.109-112], and it was under his leadership that BSA embarked on a determined diversification strategy. Rogers was a personal friend of Docker [see Midland Advertiser, 29 October 1911], and according to Sir Patrick Hannon, who was to become a BSA director and a Tory Member of Parliament, Docker "was responsible for making him chairman of BSA" [2]
Docker was a high profile business leader, not only in the Midland industrial district but also at national level. For example, he was instrumental in setting up the Federation of British Industries in 1916. Docker was also active in the National Union of Manufacturers [see Marrison, 1996, pp.326-327]. His prestige had risen sharply following the creation of the Metropolitan Carriage Wagon and Finance Company (MCWF) in 1902, a combination of five railway carriage manufacturers. Docker and the Metropolitan directors had powers to create secret reserves and by 1910 they had built up a balance of £450,000. According to Davenport-Hines [1984] such was Docker's reputation for "business infallibility" that "his expertise was sought by other businesses". He joined the board of several companies who hoped to benefit from his "general business judgement" and in other cases he was invited to play a leading role in "arranging mergers" [Davenport-Hines, 1984, pp. 32, 35, 47]. There was clearly a close personal connection between Docker and Rogers. Both were embedded in business and political networks. For example, Rogers was active in the right-wing pressure group the British Commonwealth Union, a group of which Docker happened to be President, [see Davenport-Hines, 1985, pp. 109-112; Marrison, 1996, pp. 346, 353], and what emerged at BSA from 1906 was a strong Docker-Rogers axis. Their "strategic position" at the company was further reinforced in 1907 when Lincoln Chandler, a co-director of Docker's at MCWF, joined the BSA board. [3]



  1. from the blurb on the back cover of R. P. T. Davenport-Hines Dudley Docker The Life and Times of a Trade Warrior Cambridge University Press. (ISBN-13: 9780521894005 | ISBN-10: 052189400X)
  2. Davenport-Hines, 1985, pp.109-112.
  3. Lloyd-Jones, Roger, Lewis, Myrddin J, Matthews, Mark D, Maltby, Josephine CONTROL, CONFLICT AND CONCESSION: CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, ACCOUNTING AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS, 1906-1933 Accounting Historians Journal, The, Jun 2005.