Pole, Felix John Clewett 1877 - 1956
Sir Felix Pole was born and raised in Wiltshire. In 1891, at the age of 14, he joined the the Great Western Railway as a telegraph lad clerk. After two years he was promoted, moving to the company's headquarters at Paddington in London, serving in the offices of the telegraph superintendent, chief engineer, and general manager. Pole edited the GWR's staff magazine, Great Western Magazine, and distinguished himself through his involvement with the conciliation boards.
A promotion followed, and Pole was made head of the staff and labour department in the general manager's office in 1912. In June 1913 was appointed chief clerk, a position he held throughout the period of the First World War as his poor eyesight meant he was rejected by the armed forces. By March 1919 Pole was assistant to the general manager, Frank Potter, and, after Potter's death that August Pole became assistant general manager to Charles Aldington. Aldington was by this time in poor health, which created opportunities for Pole. Pole succeeded Adlington in June 1921, when the latter was forced to retire for health reasons.
Under the Railways Act of 1921, GWR was greatly expanded to incorporate thirty-three formerly separate companies. A key part of Pole's mission was to successfully integrate these disparate parts. Pole was also tasked with restoring financial stability after wartime government control. He was credited with fostering good relations within the company, with customers and with the general public. Pole used his many addresses to chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, and civic functions to these ends. Pole was knighted in 1924.
In July 1929, Pole left the GWR to become chairman of Associated Electrical Industries Ltd., although he remained a consultant to his old employer. AEI manufactured electric goods. It had been recently formed out of a group of companies including British Thomson-Houston, Ferguson Pailin, Edison Swan, Metropolitan-Vickers, and others. Once again, Pole's task was one of integration and creating a sense of identity.
Alongside his role at AEI Ltd, Pole also sat as Chairman of the Rural Housing Committee from 1936 until 1945, advising the British government.
The loss of his sight promoted Pole to resign as Chairman of AEI in 1945, but he remained a company director until 1955. He died in January, 1956.