Mr A. E. Harrison

15.7.1930 p8 (2)
A.E Harrison 15th July 1930[-]

Albert Edward Harrison, 48, (1884-1972) newspaper manager in Cardiff for one of Lady Rhondda’s papers, the Journal of Commerce, was shortly to move to London to become General Manager of Time and Tide, where he and his wife would then be able to join their daughter Gwen, herself becoming a teacher (and also at the dinner).  An active player in various newspaper trade associations, he was a key player in the business management of Lady Rhondda’s newspaper “empire”.


Maybe beside his daughter Gwen, depending how she wanted to mingle with the other women on the table I expect. Equally, given his imminent move, this might have been a good time to reflect with Mrs Finlay, who also lived in South Wales. A discussion with retired headteacher Jessie White might have allowed him to find out more about the state of the teaching profession, which his daughter would move into (if she hadn’t already).


Albert is about to move back to London, the place of his birth, and join Time and Tide. Attending the dinner may have been a first introduction to many people though he was yet to leave Wales for London (that came in July/August). His daughter Gwen had already been in London since 1931 and he may have enjoyed getting to know her student friends at the table (if King’s College students Marian Hodson and Phyllis Crossley were indeed her friends as we are speculating).


Albert Edward Harrison was born in 1884, in Battersea, London, the son of James Harrison, labourer, of 40 Great Suffolk St, and his wife Elizabeth.  Albert was christened on 20th April 1884.  He was at school in Wandsworth (recorded 15th January 1894). In Q3 1907 he married Edith Maria Rhoda Down (born 28th November 1881, Plympton, Devon) in Wandsworth and their daughter Gwendolen Rhoda Harrison was born on 1st March 1910 in Cardiff.

In 1911, at the age of 27, he was a Manager (Printing & Newspaper) in Cardiff (living at 219 Mackintosh Place, Cardiff) and in 1915 he became the Managing Director of Cambrian News Ltd when it was taken over by a new company, with Lord Rhondda as one director.[1] On 11th November 1918, the day of the Armistice, he became a Freemason, with the Cardiff Exchange Lodge. In 1919 he and Lady Rhondda, with a share apiece, took over the South Wales Journal of Commerce, then part of the estate of the late Viscount Rhondda.[2] On 4th March 1920 A.E. Harrison of the Journal of Commerce delivered a lecture on “Blind Optimism and Misleading Leaders” to the Cardiff Business Club. In 1926 he was succeeded as Managing Director of the Club by H. Read, the father of Robert Read the Editor.[3]

Western Mail, 3rd March 1920[4]
In 1922 he was re-elected the county Hon. Sec. of the Glamorgan branch of the British Red Cross Society.[5] In 1930 his parents-in-law celebrated their golden wedding when his father-in-law Mr Down was still working at the South Wales Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd, of which Albert was joint managing director.[6] But at the time of the dinner he was about to make a move.


On Sunday 23th July 1933 the Roath Congregational Church in Cardiff made a presentation to A.E. Harrison – “the well-known Cardiff Docksman” who had been “in charge of the South Wales Journal of Commerce for many years” – and his wife “who would be shortly removing to London”.[7] Leaving Cardiff he stayed within the Lady Rhondda business empire and by 1935 (and probably earlier) he was the General Manager of Time and Tide. He was living in Acton from 1934.[8] He was back in his home town, albeit further out in the suburbs. We do get a hint at the wide range of roles a General Manager might play at a paper run by Lady Rhondda: on 17th October 1933 when Lady Rhondda is travelling with Theodora Bosanquet and working out how to set up home with her without causing unwanted attention, she wrote to Winifred Holtby “We aren’t proposing to broadcast our plan just yet” but she had contacted her agent to look for a large house or flat.  If somewhere suitable materialised before their return, “I shall say to everyone that Harrison has found me a home that is perfect but is too big for me so I’ve persuaded T. to take a couple of rooms in it”.[9]

We may not have a photo yet but we can perhaps get an insight into his mind from this extract from one of his talks, reported from one of his newspapers, during the last year of WW1:

Future of Industry. Plea for Cooperation. 

Mr. A. E. Harrison, general manager of the “Cardiff and South Wales Journal of Commerce” and managing director of The Cambrian News, Ltd., spoke at the Cardiff Rotary Club on the seriousness of the international situation that would arise after the war.  In the past capital and labour had stood as two antagonists, the one trying to defeat the other.  The elementary principles had been overlooked.  They had capital, initiative, and control on the one hand, and production on the other.  Capital was valueless to create further capital without the aid of labour.  Labour would largely be spent in vain without, the aid of capital.  Separate the two and there would be a state of chaos. Co-ordinate the two and there would be a state of prosperity which should be beneficial to all.

Once the working classes were given an opportunity of learning the principles of political economy and were treated fairly by capital, the restriction of outputs and other such menaces would be rectified.  The technical schools had a great responsibility in that matter.

Asked how it was suggested that labour could be educated in economic questions, he said labour leaders should be induced by the Government to instil into the minds of the workers the principles of political economy, of which 80 per cent. were at present ignorant.  The workers had a false impression that restriction of output tended to more constant employment.  That had been proved to be totally untrue, especially in America, by the Ford Company, because the cheaper the article the greater the demand.  It could also be done by propaganda, by instruction of the coming generation in the technical schools, and by co-partnery.[10]

 Albert died on 13th January 1972, Ruislip, Hillingdon, and his ashes were interred at the Breakspear Crematorium.


[1] Wikipedia The Cambrian News

[2] Western Mail, 14.8.1919 p8

[3] W.J. Lewis, Born on a Perilous Rock, p118, Cambrian News (Aberystwyth) Ltd 1980 2nd Ed.

[4] Western Mail, 3rd March 1920, page 6 ©Mirrorpix Image courtesy of The British Library Board supplied by British Newspaper Archive

[5] Western Mail, 9.6.1922, p7

[6] Western Mail, 6.11.1930 p11

[7] Western Mail, 24.7.1933 p9

[8] Attending funeral of Winifred Holtby, The Times, 2.10. 1935, p17

[9] Thank you to Angela John for that story: Angela V. John, Turning the Tide, pp365-366, Parthian, 2013

[10] The Cambrian and Welsh Farmers’ Gazette, 12.4.1918 p5.

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