Ernest Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe

The Right Honourable
The Lord Simon of Wythenshawe
Personal details
Born Ernest Emil Darwin Simon
(1879-10-09)9 October 1879
Didsbury, Manchester, England
Died 3 October 1960(1960-10-03) (aged 80)
Withington, Manchester, England
Nationality British
Political party
Spouse(s) Shena Dorothy Potter (m. 1912)
Alma mater Pembroke College, Cambridge
Profession Industrialist, politician and public servant

Ernest Emil Darwin Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe (9 October 1879 – 3 October 1960) was a British industrialist, politician and public servant. Lord Mayor of Manchester in 1921–1922, he was a member of parliament for two terms between 1923 and 1931 before being elevated to the peerage and serving as the Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors.

Early life and family

Simon was born in Didsbury, Manchester, as the eldest son of Henry Gustav Simon and Emily Stoehr.[1] He was educated at Rugby School and studied mechanical sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge.[2]

In 1912 he married Shena Dorothy Potter (1883–1972), a noted social reformer. They had three children: Roger, a solicitor and journalist; Brian, an educationalist and historian; and a daughter who died in childhood.[1] His nephew is C. G. H. Simon.


After leaving Cambridge on the death of his father, he entered the family's engineering business, Simon Carves, manufacturers of flour milling machinery and coke ovens. He successfully expanded the company into building grain silos, and with the wealth generated by the business pursued outside interests, including politics.[1]

Political and public life

Wythenshawe Hall and Park
A 16th-century medieval timber-framed historic house
The hall and surrounding park were donated to the City of Manchester by Lord and Lady Simon of Wythenshawe in 1926...
A circular plaque coloured blue mounted on a brick wall, containing the coat of arms of Manchester City Council at the top, the white text "Ernest Darwin Simon (1879–1960)" and "Shena Dorothy Simon (1883–1972)" in the centre, followed by "Lord and Lady Simon purchased Wyhtenshawe Hall and Park as a gift to the City of Manchester in 1926" commemorated with a blue plaque.

Simon served as a member of Manchester City Council from 1912 to 1925, and as Lord Mayor of Manchester in 1921–1922, the youngest person at the time to have held the office.[1] He is chiefly remembered for the slum clearances and housing projects he initiated in the city. He purchased Wythenshawe Hall and park from Robert Henry Grenville Tatton in 1926 and donated them to the city; the estate farmland became one on Britain's largest housing estates, Wythenshawe.[3][4]

Simon sat as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington from 1923 to 1924 and from 1929 to 1931. Appointed a Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health in August 1931, to remain in office he contested Penryn and Falmouth (he had previously decided not to contest the Withington seat again) in October 1931, however he was unsuccessful. He was knighted in 1932.[5] After the World War II he again stood for parliament, as an independent candidate for the Combined English Universities seat during the 1946 by-election. He was unsuccessful and later that year joined the Labour Party. In 1947 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Simon of Wythenshawe, of Didsbury in the City of Manchester,[6] and he was appointed chairman of the BBC Board of Governors, a post which he held until 1952.[7]

He was close friends with Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and he contributed £1000 towards their establishment of the New Statesman political newspaper in 1913.[8] He also had long association with the University of Manchester; except for a short period, he was a member of the court and council from 1915 until his death, and he served as chairman of the Council between 1941 and 1957.[1][7]

Simon died on 3 October 1960 in Withington, Manchester, after suffering a stroke whilst on holiday. His eldest son Roger succeeded to the barony.[1]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Jones, Brendon (January 2011). "Simon, Ernest Emil Darwin, first Baron Simon of Wythenshawe (1879–1960)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36095. Retrieved 21 December 2012. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. "Simon, Ernest Emil Darwin (SMN898EE)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. Linton, Deborah (1 June 2011). "Budget crisis could lead Manchester council to give away Heaton Hall and Wythenshawe Hall". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  4. "Wythenshawe Park: The park's history". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 33804. pp. 1417–1418. 1 March 1932. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 37872. p. 613. 4 February 1947. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  7. 1 2 "Simon of Wythenshawe, 1st Baron". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  8. "About Us". New Statesman Jobs. Retrieved 21 December 2012.

Further reading

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Watts
Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington
Succeeded by
Thomas Watts
Preceded by
Thomas Watts
Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington
Succeeded by
Edward Fleming
Media offices
Preceded by
Philip Inman
Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors
Succeeded by
Alexander Cadogan
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Simon of Wythenshawe
Succeeded by
Roger Simon
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