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Tombs, Sir Francis Leonard, 1924-2020, Knight, Baron Tombs of Brailes

  • P0553
  • Person
  • 1924-2020

Born in Walsall in 1924, Francis Tombs worked as a St John Ambulance first aider during the Second World War. In 1946 he worked as an electrical engineer with the General Electric Company (GEC). He joined the South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB) in 1969 as Director of Engineering and was later promoted to Deputy Chair and, in 1974, Chair. In 1977, he was invited to head the Electricity Council, the industry’s supervisory body, and held the post for three and a half years. Lord Tombs became chair of the Weir Group in the early 1980s and took over as Chair of Rolls-Royce in 1985, having been a board member for three years.

Lord Tombs was knighted in 1978 and became a life peer in 1990, taking his title from a Warwickshire village. He sat as a Crossbench peer until his retirement in 2015 and was a member of the Lords’ Science and Technology and Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee; he also chaired a Select Committee on sustainable development.

He served as President of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, now the Institution of Engineering and Technology, in 1981 and was a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Lord Tombs was the University of Strathclyde’s second Chancellor and held the post from 1991 to 1997.

University of Strathclyde

  • C0047
  • Corporate body
  • 1964 to date

The University of Strathclyde was established by royal charter in August 1964, following the merger of the Royal College of Science and Technology with the Scottish College of Commerce. Discussions with the University Grants Committee had taken place for a decade before that, on the possibility of the Royal College entering a closer relationship with Glasgow University than its existing affiliation agreement. However, the granting of university status afforded the best opportunity for future development of the college. University departments were grouped in schools of study: mathematics, physics and computer science; chemical and materials sciences; mechanical and chemical engineering and naval architecture; civil and mining engineering and applied geology; electrical and electronic engineering; architecture, building science and planning; biological sciences; pharmaceutical sciences; arts and social studies; business and administration; and Strathclyde Business School. The schools of study were reorganised in 1982 into four faculties: of science, engineering, arts and social studies and business. In 1993, the university merged with Jordanhill College of Education. The college became the university's fifth faculty, of education, and continued to operate on the Jordanhill Campus in the west of the city, six miles distant from the John Anderson Campus in the city centre. With this merger, Strathclyde became the third largest university in Scotland.

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