Frederick Catherwood

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Person.png Frederick Catherwood  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, businessman)
Frederick Catherwood.png
BornHenry Frederick Ross Catherwood
30 January 1925
Castledawson, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Died30 November 2014 (Age 89)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Alma materShrewsbury School, Clare College(Cambridge)
ChildrenChristopher Catherwood
InterestsBritish Institute of Management

Sir Henry Frederick Ross Catherwood was a British politician, business executive and writer on economic and religious questions. He attended the 1971 Bilderberg meeting.

Early life and education

Catherwood was born at Castledawson, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Clare College, Cambridge.


He began his professional career in 1951 as an accountant at Price Waterhouse and then was secretary at Law's Stores in Gateshead, before joining the construction company Costain Group, founded by Richard Costain.

In 1955, he became the thirty-year-old Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of British Aluminium and remained there for nine years until 1964, the last time he became Managing Director in 1962. As such, he managed the company during the most severe economic crisis since the 1930s. He established a network of business contacts and implemented a number of radical ideas at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the British Management Institute (BMI).[1]

Economic Advisor to the Wilson and Heath governments

Three days after the Labour Party's victory in the general election of 15 October 1964, Catherwood became chief industrial adviser to George Brown, the Minister of Economic Affairs in the government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He was released from his position at British Aluminum for this activity. During his 18-month work for the DEA (Department for Economic Affairs), he was engaged in the consideration of the potential of companies, starting with the Ulster-based company Short Bros.[2]

In April 1966, he succeeded Robert Shone as Director General of the National Council for Economic Development (NEDC). He succeeded in an extensive reorganization of the authority by creating departments for individual sectors of the economy in order to ensure a faster implementation of new technologies. However, he had to compromise on this due to conflicts with the then director of the CBI and the later minister from the Conservative Party, John Davies. In his book Britain With the Brakes Off, published in 1966, he warned that Britain would have to fight for life if investment in industry did not increase. In addition, he flew to the USA and in a speech called on British students at Harvard University to return to the UK after obtaining the Master of Business Administration (MBA). The students then told him that British companies did not make any effort to hire them.[1]

He also held the post of Director General of the NEDC after the Conservative Party under Edward Heath took over the government in the House of Commons elections of June 18, 1970. When the UK's entry to the European Community (EC), scheduled for 1973, came closer, he warned that this would not immediately solve the country's problems, and pointed out to Prime Minister Heath that he would have two years to prevent the British economy from falling back to the point of no return.

Private sector, Chairman of the Overseas Trade Authority and Evangelicalism

In 1971, Catherwood left the government and was knighted as a Knight Bachelor for his services, so that he henceforth carried the name suffix "Sir". He then returned to the private sector as managing director and chief executive officer of the construction company John Laing. However, he gave up this function in 1974 and instead became chairman of the British Institute of Management. At the same time, he worked as chairman of the Board of Mallinson-Denny Group Ltd, a timber company, from 1974 to 1979.

In 1975, he was appointed chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board (BOTB), and succeeded Edward, 2nd Duke of Kent, as honorary vice-chairman. In this capacity, Catherwood urged export-oriented companies to copy Japan, as well as to take an aggressive approach in Europe, predicting an export boom, which would be fueled by an undervaluation of the pound sterling and membership in the EC. In his opinion, everyone wanted British goods, "but we seem unable to provide them". His discontent grew as the pound sterling became stronger and it came to economic disruptions. This so-called "Winter of Discontent" of 1978/1979 had led to production cuts of ten percent and the dismissal of 235,000 workers.[1]

In addition to his activities as an entrepreneur and business manager, Catherwood was committed to evangelicalism throughout his life and was president of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, the Evangelical Alliance and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, among others.

Catherwood was committed to economic co-operation within the European community for much of his professional life. He was elected as a Conservative member of the European Parliament for Cambridgeshire and related areas from 1979 until his retirement in 1994. He was Vice President of the European Parliament 1989–1992.

Personal life

He married Elizabeth, the daughter of Christian pastor and author Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Catherwoods had two sons and a daughter. Their son Christopher Catherwood is an author. Their daughter, Bethan Marshall, is a university lecturer, and younger son Jonathan is Director of the Martyn Lloyd Jones Trust.

Sir Fred Catherwood died in Cambridge, England on 30 November 2014 at the age of 89.[3][4][5]

Catherwood authored many books and hundreds of articles in a range of journals. He described the requirements of responsible management and good industrial relations.[1]


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/197123 April 197125 April 1971US
Woodstock Inn
The 20th Bilderberg, 89 guests
Many thanks to our Patrons who cover ~2/3 of our hosting bill. Please join them if you can.


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