Stanley, Albert

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Lord Ashfield was born Albert Henry Knattriess, near Derby, in 1874. His father was a coach painter. The family emigrated to America when Albert was a child, and changed the surname to Stanley. Albert was educated in America and was keen to become an engineer. It was arranged for him to start working with the Detroit Citizens' Street Railway Company -- a horse tram operator -- when he was 14 years old. Meanwhile, he attended courses at technical college. His abilities and ambition helped Stanley progress rapidly and he was made general superintendent by the time he was 28.

Stanley joined the Street Railway Department of the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey as assistant general manager in 1903. By 1907 he had been appointed general manager and had built a reputation as one of the leading managers of urban transit in the United States. He was then approached by the American managers of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (U.E.R.L) and appointed general manager in 1907, and managing director in 1910.

Stanley's management style astutely focused on public relations and publicity. One of his first moves was to encourage use of a common recognisable symbol. He used the word 'UNDERGROUND', written with a large 'U' and large 'D', as part of an illuminated sign. This symbol was officially adopted in February 1908.

Stanley had a forceful personality and adopted a tough leadership style. When he first arrived, the Underground Group was facing bankruptcy. He persuaded banks to lend the Group money and effectively eliminated competition over the next few years by bringing most of it into the Group. Stanley recognised the potential of an integrated transport system combining trains, buses and trams, and supported its development by his deputy Frank Pick.

Alternate Names

  • Lord Ashfield

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