Eric Campbell Geddes
Overview
 
Sir Eric Campbell-Geddes GCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, PC (26 September 1875 – 22 June 1937) was a British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 businessman and Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 politician. He served as First Lord of the Admiralty between 1917 and 1919 and as the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

 between 1919 and 1921.
Born in British India, Geddes was the son of Auckland Campbell Geddes, of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and the elder brother of Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Campbell-Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes GCMG, KCB, PC was a British academic, soldier, politician and diplomat...

. He was educated at Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College was an all-male private boarding school and military academy in Cowley, Oxford, England, from 1876–1896. The military college opened on 7 September 1876. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was the patron of the Oxford Military College....

 and Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the village of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has about 480 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 8 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; day pupils make up 35% of the school....

, Edinburgh.
Geddes worked in lumbering in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and in the railway business with Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which...

 and Rohilkund and Kumaon in India.
Encyclopedia
Sir Eric Campbell-Geddes GCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, PC (26 September 1875 – 22 June 1937) was a British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 businessman and Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 politician. He served as First Lord of the Admiralty between 1917 and 1919 and as the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

 between 1919 and 1921.

Background and education

Born in British India, Geddes was the son of Auckland Campbell Geddes, of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and the elder brother of Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Campbell-Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes GCMG, KCB, PC was a British academic, soldier, politician and diplomat...

. He was educated at Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College was an all-male private boarding school and military academy in Cowley, Oxford, England, from 1876–1896. The military college opened on 7 September 1876. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was the patron of the Oxford Military College....

 and Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the village of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has about 480 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 8 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; day pupils make up 35% of the school....

, Edinburgh.

Business career

Geddes worked in lumbering in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and in the railway business with Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which...

 and Rohilkund and Kumaon in India. After returning to England he joined the North-Eastern Railway
North Eastern Railway (UK)
The North Eastern Railway , was an English railway company. It was incorporated in 1854, when four existing companies were combined, and was absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923...

, and rose to be Deputy General Manager in 1911.

Political career

During the First World War Geddes was one of the "men of push and go" brought into government service by Minister of Munitions
Minister of Munitions
The Minister of Munitions was a British government position created during the First World War to oversee and co-ordinate the production and distribution of munitions for the war effort...

 David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

, and served as Deputy Director-General of Munitions Supply between 1915 and 1916. His administrative ability was so impressive that he was appointed, despite being a civilian, Director-General of Military Railways and Inspector-General of Transportation with the British Expeditionary Force in 1916, with the rank of Honorary Major-General
Major-General (United Kingdom)
Major general is a senior rank in the British Army. Since 1996 the highest position within the Royal Marines is the Commandant General Royal Marines who holds the rank of major general...

. His task here was to improve communications behind the lines, a question which had then become urgent. He was knighted in 1916 and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 1917. The latter year he moved to the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 as Controller with the rank of Honorary Vice-Admiral
Vice Admiral (Royal Navy)
Vice admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy. It equates to the NATO rank code OF-8 and is immediately superior to rear admiral and is subordinate to the full admiral rank.The Royal Navy has had vice admirals since at least the 16th century...

, charged with developing and utilizing the shipbuilding resources and concentrating them under one authority.

In July 1917 Geddes entered Lloyd George's cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, despite having no previous parliamentary experience. He entered the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 for Cambridge
Cambridge (UK Parliament constituency)
Cambridge is a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first-past-the-post voting system....

 and was sworn of the Privy Council the same month. The Daily Telegraph's naval correspondent, Sir Archibald Hurd, later wrote of Geddes and Lloyd George, "No men more ignorant of naval affairs were ever associated together than the Prime Minister and Geddes". During his tenure the British mercantile fleet suffered greatly from German submarine warfare, and in 1918 he informed the House of Commons that the output from British shipbuilding years would have to be nearly doubled before the monthly sinking figures were made good. He appointed the Belfast shipbuilder Lord Pirrie
William Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie
William James Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie, KP, PC was a leading Irish shipbuilder and businessman. He was chairman of Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders, between 1895 and 1924, and also served as Lord Mayor of Belfast between 1896 and 1898...

 as controller-general of merchant shipbuilding.

He left the Admiralty in January 1919 and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 the same month. Lloyd George then instructed him to organize a new Ministry of Transport. Until the bill for setting up this new office was passed in May 1919, he remained a member of the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio
Minister without Portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...

. In May 1919 he was so appointed the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

. The new ministry was given control over railways, roads, canals and docks but was criticized by both houses of parliament as it was considered giving in to nationalization. The size of the ministry was also heavily criticized in regards to the constrained economic circumstances after the First World War. In the autumn of 1921 the handing back of the railways from state control to the companies was under review, and put the Ministry of Transport under further scrutiny. Geddes consequently resigned in November 1921. He also chaired the committee on National Expenditure which formulated the controversial government policy of heavy cuts in public expenditure, the policy being known as the Geddes Axe
Geddes Axe
The Geddes Axe was the drive for public economy and retrenchment in UK government expenditure recommended in the 1920s by a Committee on National Expenditure chaired by Sir Eric Geddes and with Lord Inchcape, Lord Faringdon, Lord Maclay and Sir Guy Granet also members.-Background:During and after...

. From 1924 until his death he was chairman of Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but especially the Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East...

.

Geddes is famously known for his quote "We shall squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak!" which was uttered during a rally before the Versailles Peace Conference in order to stir up support for harsh restitutions.

Family

Geddes married Gwendolen, daughter of Reverend A. Stokes, in 1900. They had three sons, including Sir Reay Geddes, former chairman of the Dunlop Rubber Company. Sir Eric died in June 1937, aged 61.

External links

Sir Eric Campbell-Geddes GCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, PC (26 September 1875 – 22 June 1937) was a British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 businessman and Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 politician. He served as First Lord of the Admiralty between 1917 and 1919 and as the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

 between 1919 and 1921.

Background and education

Born in British India, Geddes was the son of Auckland Campbell Geddes, of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and the elder brother of Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Campbell-Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes GCMG, KCB, PC was a British academic, soldier, politician and diplomat...

. He was educated at Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College was an all-male private boarding school and military academy in Cowley, Oxford, England, from 1876–1896. The military college opened on 7 September 1876. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was the patron of the Oxford Military College....

 and Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the village of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has about 480 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 8 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; day pupils make up 35% of the school....

, Edinburgh.

Business career

Geddes worked in lumbering in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and in the railway business with Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which...

 and Rohilkund and Kumaon in India. After returning to England he joined the North-Eastern Railway
North Eastern Railway (UK)
The North Eastern Railway , was an English railway company. It was incorporated in 1854, when four existing companies were combined, and was absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923...

, and rose to be Deputy General Manager in 1911.

Political career

During the First World War Geddes was one of the "men of push and go" brought into government service by Minister of Munitions
Minister of Munitions
The Minister of Munitions was a British government position created during the First World War to oversee and co-ordinate the production and distribution of munitions for the war effort...

 David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

, and served as Deputy Director-General of Munitions Supply between 1915 and 1916. His administrative ability was so impressive that he was appointed, despite being a civilian, Director-General of Military Railways and Inspector-General of Transportation with the British Expeditionary Force in 1916, with the rank of Honorary Major-General
Major-General (United Kingdom)
Major general is a senior rank in the British Army. Since 1996 the highest position within the Royal Marines is the Commandant General Royal Marines who holds the rank of major general...

. His task here was to improve communications behind the lines, a question which had then become urgent. He was knighted in 1916 and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 1917. The latter year he moved to the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 as Controller with the rank of Honorary Vice-Admiral
Vice Admiral (Royal Navy)
Vice admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy. It equates to the NATO rank code OF-8 and is immediately superior to rear admiral and is subordinate to the full admiral rank.The Royal Navy has had vice admirals since at least the 16th century...

, charged with developing and utilizing the shipbuilding resources and concentrating them under one authority.

In July 1917 Geddes entered Lloyd George's cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, despite having no previous parliamentary experience. He entered the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 for Cambridge
Cambridge (UK Parliament constituency)
Cambridge is a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first-past-the-post voting system....

 and was sworn of the Privy Council the same month. The Daily Telegraph's naval correspondent, Sir Archibald Hurd, later wrote of Geddes and Lloyd George, "No men more ignorant of naval affairs were ever associated together than the Prime Minister and Geddes". During his tenure the British mercantile fleet suffered greatly from German submarine warfare, and in 1918 he informed the House of Commons that the output from British shipbuilding years would have to be nearly doubled before the monthly sinking figures were made good. He appointed the Belfast shipbuilder Lord Pirrie
William Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie
William James Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie, KP, PC was a leading Irish shipbuilder and businessman. He was chairman of Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders, between 1895 and 1924, and also served as Lord Mayor of Belfast between 1896 and 1898...

 as controller-general of merchant shipbuilding.

He left the Admiralty in January 1919 and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 the same month. Lloyd George then instructed him to organize a new Ministry of Transport. Until the bill for setting up this new office was passed in May 1919, he remained a member of the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio
Minister without Portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...

. In May 1919 he was so appointed the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

. The new ministry was given control over railways, roads, canals and docks but was criticized by both houses of parliament as it was considered giving in to nationalization. The size of the ministry was also heavily criticized in regards to the constrained economic circumstances after the First World War. In the autumn of 1921 the handing back of the railways from state control to the companies was under review, and put the Ministry of Transport under further scrutiny. Geddes consequently resigned in November 1921. He also chaired the committee on National Expenditure which formulated the controversial government policy of heavy cuts in public expenditure, the policy being known as the Geddes Axe
Geddes Axe
The Geddes Axe was the drive for public economy and retrenchment in UK government expenditure recommended in the 1920s by a Committee on National Expenditure chaired by Sir Eric Geddes and with Lord Inchcape, Lord Faringdon, Lord Maclay and Sir Guy Granet also members.-Background:During and after...

. From 1924 until his death he was chairman of Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but especially the Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East...

.

Geddes is famously known for his quote "We shall squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak!" which was uttered during a rally before the Versailles Peace Conference in order to stir up support for harsh restitutions.

Family

Geddes married Gwendolen, daughter of Reverend A. Stokes, in 1900. They had three sons, including Sir Reay Geddes, former chairman of the Dunlop Rubber Company. Sir Eric died in June 1937, aged 61.

External links

Sir Eric Campbell-Geddes GCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, PC (26 September 1875 – 22 June 1937) was a British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 businessman and Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 politician. He served as First Lord of the Admiralty between 1917 and 1919 and as the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

 between 1919 and 1921.

Background and education

Born in British India, Geddes was the son of Auckland Campbell Geddes, of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and the elder brother of Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes
Auckland Campbell-Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes GCMG, KCB, PC was a British academic, soldier, politician and diplomat...

. He was educated at Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College
Oxford Military College was an all-male private boarding school and military academy in Cowley, Oxford, England, from 1876–1896. The military college opened on 7 September 1876. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was the patron of the Oxford Military College....

 and Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the village of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has about 480 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 8 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; day pupils make up 35% of the school....

, Edinburgh.

Business career

Geddes worked in lumbering in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and in the railway business with Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which...

 and Rohilkund and Kumaon in India. After returning to England he joined the North-Eastern Railway
North Eastern Railway (UK)
The North Eastern Railway , was an English railway company. It was incorporated in 1854, when four existing companies were combined, and was absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923...

, and rose to be Deputy General Manager in 1911.

Political career

During the First World War Geddes was one of the "men of push and go" brought into government service by Minister of Munitions
Minister of Munitions
The Minister of Munitions was a British government position created during the First World War to oversee and co-ordinate the production and distribution of munitions for the war effort...

 David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

, and served as Deputy Director-General of Munitions Supply between 1915 and 1916. His administrative ability was so impressive that he was appointed, despite being a civilian, Director-General of Military Railways and Inspector-General of Transportation with the British Expeditionary Force in 1916, with the rank of Honorary Major-General
Major-General (United Kingdom)
Major general is a senior rank in the British Army. Since 1996 the highest position within the Royal Marines is the Commandant General Royal Marines who holds the rank of major general...

. His task here was to improve communications behind the lines, a question which had then become urgent. He was knighted in 1916 and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 1917. The latter year he moved to the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 as Controller with the rank of Honorary Vice-Admiral
Vice Admiral (Royal Navy)
Vice admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy. It equates to the NATO rank code OF-8 and is immediately superior to rear admiral and is subordinate to the full admiral rank.The Royal Navy has had vice admirals since at least the 16th century...

, charged with developing and utilizing the shipbuilding resources and concentrating them under one authority.

In July 1917 Geddes entered Lloyd George's cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, despite having no previous parliamentary experience. He entered the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 for Cambridge
Cambridge (UK Parliament constituency)
Cambridge is a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first-past-the-post voting system....

 and was sworn of the Privy Council the same month. The Daily Telegraph's naval correspondent, Sir Archibald Hurd, later wrote of Geddes and Lloyd George, "No men more ignorant of naval affairs were ever associated together than the Prime Minister and Geddes". During his tenure the British mercantile fleet suffered greatly from German submarine warfare, and in 1918 he informed the House of Commons that the output from British shipbuilding years would have to be nearly doubled before the monthly sinking figures were made good. He appointed the Belfast shipbuilder Lord Pirrie
William Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie
William James Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie, KP, PC was a leading Irish shipbuilder and businessman. He was chairman of Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders, between 1895 and 1924, and also served as Lord Mayor of Belfast between 1896 and 1898...

 as controller-general of merchant shipbuilding.

He left the Admiralty in January 1919 and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 the same month. Lloyd George then instructed him to organize a new Ministry of Transport. Until the bill for setting up this new office was passed in May 1919, he remained a member of the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio
Minister without Portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...

. In May 1919 he was so appointed the first Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

. The new ministry was given control over railways, roads, canals and docks but was criticized by both houses of parliament as it was considered giving in to nationalization. The size of the ministry was also heavily criticized in regards to the constrained economic circumstances after the First World War. In the autumn of 1921 the handing back of the railways from state control to the companies was under review, and put the Ministry of Transport under further scrutiny. Geddes consequently resigned in November 1921. He also chaired the committee on National Expenditure which formulated the controversial government policy of heavy cuts in public expenditure, the policy being known as the Geddes Axe
Geddes Axe
The Geddes Axe was the drive for public economy and retrenchment in UK government expenditure recommended in the 1920s by a Committee on National Expenditure chaired by Sir Eric Geddes and with Lord Inchcape, Lord Faringdon, Lord Maclay and Sir Guy Granet also members.-Background:During and after...

. From 1924 until his death he was chairman of Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but especially the Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East...

.

Geddes is famously known for his quote "We shall squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak!" which was uttered during a rally before the Versailles Peace Conference in order to stir up support for harsh restitutions.

Family

Geddes married Gwendolen, daughter of Reverend A. Stokes, in 1900. They had three sons, including Sir Reay Geddes, former chairman of the Dunlop Rubber Company. Sir Eric died in June 1937, aged 61.

External links

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