William Douglas Weir

(1st Viscount Weir)

1877 - 1959

Industrialist. Born in Glasgow, Weir was educated at the High School there. He took control of the family engineering business which had been founded by his father and uncle in 1871 and was responsible for greatly expanding it. Weir rose to prominence as an armaments manufacturer during the First World War. He became Director-General of Aircraft Production in 1917, and appointed Secretary of State for the Air Force by Lloyd George in 1918, he created the Royal Air Force out of the army and navy air services.

Weir led a government commission of inquiry examining the fragmented nature of electricity supply in the UK. His conclusions led to the Electricity (Supply) Act of 1926 and the creation of the National Grid to ensure power could be flexibly distributed around the country. He advised the government on civil defence in the 1930s and was served as Director-General of Explosives for the Ministry of Supply during World War II.

Knighted in 1917, Weir was raised to the peerage the following year and created Viscount Weir of Eastwood in 1938.

The Weir Group remains headquartered in Glasgow and has a revenue exceeding £430 million (2006).

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