Industry: water, steel & energy

Holliday, Fred (5 of 14) National Life Story Collection: An Oral History of the Water Industry

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  • Recording date

    2009-08-13, 2009-08-20, 2009-11-16, 2010-02-09, 2011-02-02

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Holliday, Fred, 1935-2016 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Gilmour, Alison (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: Comments on duration of Vice-Chancellor position at Durham University; mentions death of MF (Chancellor) in final year. Description of MF and Tito [Roberto Arias]; and MF's partnership with [Rudolf] Nureyev. Mentions awarding Denis Rooke's honorary degree. Story about MF's favourite breakfast. Mentions MF's relationship with Archbishop of Canterbury. Remarks on nature conservancy work undertaken. Northumbrian Water Chairman Michael Straker [MS] invited FH to join the board; later FH became Chairman. Comments on advanced sewage treatment; supplying clear drinking water. Remarks on debate around decision not to add fluoride to water. Comments on role as Chairman. [13:46] Comments on relationship with MS. Remarks on privatisation of water industry; mentions period of austerity with Thatcher. Mentions development of sewage treatment works at Teesside and pipe work. Comments on success of water company and 'golden share' held by government to prevent takeover. Mentions call from Jérôme Monod, Chairman of Lyonnaise des Eaux, about takeover bid. Description of preparation for bid, request to government representative in the North of England for information. French already owned water companies: North East Water, Essex & Suffolk Water. [24:51] Comments on being against foreign ownership. Comments on price offered by French for shares and recommendation made by FH to sell shares. Comments on invitation to join French board and additions to FH's board. Description of French Chief Executive, Patrick Babin. Remarks on lack of punctuality of French colleagues. Comments on taking French lessons. Mentions merging of Essex & Suffolk and North East Water with Northumbrian Water. Comments on takeover of Lyonnaise des Eaux by Suez; mentions being on the new board. Comments on visits around the world with Suez. Remarks on France's success in business and quality of science labs. Story about breaking tradition on the board and being forgiven. Comments on introduction of modern environmental planning at Suez. [36:04] Remarks on Suez water contracts in Philippines and South America; rivalry with Générale des Eaux. Description of trouble with certain contracts and need for Suez to sell assets. Mentions Chairman's visit to FH in Newcastle and request for FH to resign from board and concentrate on the sale of Northumbrian Water. FH persuaded Chairman to retain some shares due to good working relationship. Description of selling shares and return of shares to British stock market. FH returned to board after sale. Remarks on challenges of Essex & Suffolk Water and planning water reservoir; use of Kielder [reservoir] in the North East. [40:40] Mentions turning 70 and good stock market practice to nominate oneself for re-election aged 70. Retired from Northumbrian Water aged 70. Comments on other positions held: British Rail main board, Chairman of privatised British Rail in Go-Ahead Group. Mentions accident at Ladbroke Grove and public inquiry chaired by Lord Cullen. Mentions nepotism. Description of attaining position of Chairman of Brewin Dolphin Holdings following sale of Wise Speke stockbrokers and split capital fund scandal. Comments on learning about the City and stock market, unpredictability of markets.

  • Description

    Life Story Interview with Fred Holliday, former chairman of Northumbrian Water Group

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