" ... a big man, usually austere in countenance, sitting behind a large desk in a large office ...", begins a description of John NoŽl Taylor with foreboding; but he was fondly remembered.
That same description continues with these words on his retirement: "Mr. J. NoŽl Taylor, Vice-Chairman, could be an awe-inspiring figure, even frightening. But overcome your hesitation and you found him warm and friendly, with a fund of experience he was more than willing to share, and to your questions he would give a straight and immediate answer often lightened by his own brand of quiet humour."
In his annual statement to the shareholders of the Company, Sir William Mather, then Chairman, paid this tribute to NoŽl Taylor.
"At our Annual General Meeting in April, Mr. J. NoŽl Taylor, our Vice-Charman is retiring after over 41 years service as a Director of the Company. During practicaly the whole of this time he has been responsile for the Fire Engineering side of the business which has grown remarkably under his leadership and resulted in Mather & Platt being not only the leading company in Britain as ar as automatic sprinkler and fire alarm systems are concerned but also in practically every other developed country outside North America. He has been a pillar of strength to me personally and will long be remembered with admiration and respect by all who have worked with him."
In the early 1960s, Mr. J. NoŽl Taylor's contemporaries began to receive their long service awards. Typically, he made no mention of his own and had to be asked from what date his forty years service counted.
Though NoŽl Taylor decided on the latest of his "starting" dates - his election to the Board in 1927 - he reminded the powers that be with a smile that his connection with the company had actually started some twenty-five years before that; less than a fortnight after his birth, in fact - which was on 21st December 1902. On 3rd January 1903, his father, John Taylor, then Managing Director, arranged a social evening at Belle Vue for Park Works employees, and was pleasantly surprised when he received from them, on behalf of his son, a silver christening set - a tankard, spoon and fork. By the same token, NoŽl Taylor considered that his adoption by the company was confirmed later in that same year when his father invited Fire Engineering Division to hold their picnic at his home in Grasmere in the Lake District in order to meet his young son.
In due course, NoŽl Taylor went to Cambridge, spending vacation courses at Park Woks and staying at the old Hostel where he made many friends. With an engineering degree behind him, he took up full-time duties in the Fire Engineering Division. One of his early experiences was a world tour to study the many aspects of Mather & Platt business oveseas. On his return in 1927, he was appointed to the Board of Directors and later took charge of the Fire Engineering Division.
Within his responsibilities for the Division, which he built to a dominant position in the world of fire engineering, he undertook various specialised tasks. He developed, almost from scratch, the Mulsifyre, later, Special Risks Department which protected from fire some of the most vulnerable and potentially dangerous industrial risks of the day. He also developed and introduced to world markets the later well-known Thermolier Unit Heater. Equally important was the step he took towards the dvelopment of fire protection by taking on the responsibility for superseding the diaphragm type sprinkler with the solid seating type.
He was largely instrumental in forming Mather & Platt subsidiary companies in South Africa, Holland, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. But he regarded with most pride his roll in the introduction of sprinklers into passenger ships from the Princess Maud to the Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth II (QE2).
With this illustrious record of achievement behind him, NoŽl Taylor began to hand over active command of Fire Engineering Division. Like his father before him, he was appointed Vice-Chairman, and continued to serve until he announced his retirement at the Annual General Meeting. He was then able to step back into retirement - a retirement that his Mather & Platt friends and colleagues throughout the world wished would be a long and happy one for him.
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