Director of Baird company

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handMichael Hendry of Market Drayton, Shropshire, wrote on March 28 2009:

I am researching the Donaldson-Hudson family, who used to own and live on the Cheswardine Estate in north east Shropshire.

Sometime in the late 1940's John Logie Baird evidently had four directors in his company, including Jack Buchanan, his old school chum, H.Norman Letts, K.F.Shelley and more importantly John Donaldson-Hudson.

I have been unable to establish so far what role John Donaldson-Hudson played in the company. John was born in 1908, the second son of Ralph Charles Donaldson-Hudson.

He was involved commercially from the 1930's onwards in Marston Transport Services/Edward Box & Co., who were hauliers based in Liverpool, and was responsible for several patents for low loading trailers to carry railway locomotives from foundry to docks. He drove a four and half litre turbocharged Bentley touring car.

Unfortunately he contracted tuberculosis in the late 1940's and died in the south of France on 4th November 1949.

If you are able to furnish me with any further information about his relationship with John Logie Baird, or if you were able to put me in touch with his son Malcolm, I would be most grateful.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Michael Hendry
Stable Cottage
Market Drayton

P.S. I am a veterinary surgeon, and qualified in Glasgow in 1971, so I have more than a passing interest in matters Scottish!

Professor Malcolm Baird responded:

Dear Michael Hendry,

Many thanks for your enquiry about John Donaldson-Hudson. Unfortunately I cannot add very much. As you say, JDH was one of four directors of the company John Logie Baird Limited that had been formed in late 1944.

My mother recalled that my father had been very happy with the new company and got along well with everyone on the board, which had not been the case with the pre-war company Baird Television Ltd.

My father's wartime diary has several references to meeting or phoning "Hudson" and there is a note of his phone number WHI 2007. Either JDH worked at a government office in Whitehall, or he had a flat in the area.

After the end of the war, the company started to manufacture television sets. One of the company's major achievements was a set with a 28 inch screen, exceptional for those early days.

This set, known as "The Grosvenor", was operated at the Savoy Hotel to show the Victory Parade in June 1946. Soon after this, my father died at Bexhill.

Later, Jack Buchanan got the Americans interested in the company's tabletop model which did not need an aerial, but was unable to get government assistance for exporting the sets. The company was taken over by Scophony Limited in 1948, and we must hope that Jack Buchanan and JDH (the main sources of capital in 1944) got their investment back from the takeover.

If you go to the website you will find information on two recently published books on my father's life. One is a biography by Antony Kamm and me, and the other is my father's own memoirs, but the material on JDH is limited to more or less what I have told you here. I was very sorry to hear that JDH had died at an early age.

Like you, I am a graduate of Glasgow University (Applied Chemistry, 1957!).


Malcolm Baird

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