Banking & finance

Wontner, Hugh (8 of 11) National Life Stories: City Lives

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  • Recording date

    1990-16-03, 1990-20-04, 1990-18-05, 1990-27-06

  • Is part of (Collection)

    City Lives

  • Recording locations

    Claridge's Hotel, London, W1

  • Interviewees

    Wontner, Hugh, 1908- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Phillips, David (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 8 (tape 4 side B): Atmosphere of relief at end of WWII and anxiety about socialism: no use of the word 'communism' in national papers. No union ever within the Savoy Group although not opposed on principle. 1948, Chairman of Savoy - Rupert D'Oyly Carte - died without heir. Sir Hugh became Chairman and inherited shares in the company. Sir Hugh invited to review domestic arrangements at Buckingham Palace but not allowed to reveal details. Became member of Royal Household as Clerk to the Royal Kitchens. Attraction of valuable hotel sites in central London to property developers led to Charles Clore acquiring shares in Savoy Group. Clore's accountant also worked for Harold Samuel whom he told of the share buying. So Samuel went for it too, and then bought Clore's shares. However, Samuel denied he was the buyer. Company's Act allowed Savoy to ask Board of Trade for enquiry; President of BoT at the time was Thorneycroft, who was upset. Samuel blocked by Wontner's activities and in the end offered shares to Sir Hugh who raised the money to buy them.

  • Description

    Interview with Sir Hugh Wontner, hotelier and politician, who was managing director of the Savoy hotel group (1941-1979), chairman of the Savoy Theatre (1948-1992) and Lord Mayor of London (1973-74).

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