Friday, September 30, 2016

A.J.R. honours Lord Frank Schon (1912 – 1995)

1. The A.J.R. commemorative plaque for Lord Schon
Unveiled at Corkickle, Whitehaven
(Thursday 29 September 2016) 
2. Lord Frank Schon of Whitehaven (1912 - 1995)
From: Cumbria County Archives
Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre
(Daniel Hay collection) 
3. Group at the former Schon family home, Whitehaven
Unveiling ceremony of the AJR commemorative plaque

Those present at the ceremony included:  
Lord Schon's daughters, friends of the family, AJR representatives, 
the present occupants, political and community representatives, etc.
4. AJR commemorative plaque for Lord Frank Schon
Outside his former family home (Corkickle, Whitehaven)
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 For further information click on 'Comments' below.  
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9 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Introduction

On Thursday 29 September the Association of Jewish Refugees (A.J.R.) unveiled a special commemorative plaque at Corkickle, Whitehaven, Cumbria [Photograph No. 1]. It was the latest in an ongoing project by the A.J.R. to honour prominent Jewish émigrés who fled Nazi occupied Europe and who went on to make a significant contribution to their adopted homeland.
Born in Vienna, Austria on 18 May 1912, Frank Schon’s full birth name was Franz Alfons Schon. A post-war portrait of Frank Schon can be seen in photograph No. 2.

Frank Schon’s parents were Dr Frederick Schon, a lawyer by profession, and Henriette Schon (nee Nettel). However, Frank Schon did not follow his father’s occupation. After attending Vienna’s prestigious Rainer Gymnasium, Frank Schon went on to study Chemistry at the universities in Vienna and Prague. Frank Schon married Gertrude (Trudy) Secher in 1936.

How did Frank Schon come to live and work in Britain and make a significant contribution to his adopted country? Lord Schon used his maiden speech in the House of Lords on 28 March 1979 to speak of this early part of his life:

"I was born in Vienna. When I was 19 years old, I got a job with a Central European chemical company which worked with a German concern - the first to develop synthetic detergents. I was based in Prague, then in Vienna, and then back again in Prague in 1937, from where I was lucky to be able to escape with my wife after Hitler marched in on 15 March. I arrived in the United Kingdom on 28 March 1939, exactly 40 years ago today."

Adolf Hitler had arrived in Prague on 16 March 1939 and from Prague castle proclaimed a German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. At the beginning of the war Frank Schon and his wife Gertrude (nee Secher) were interned as ‘enemy aliens’ and sent to the Isle of Man for several months. Fortunately, this setback did not last long and they were allowed back to London where Frank Schon set up his first business venture. This was the beginning of his outstanding contribution to the industrial, business and social contribution of his adopted country. Frank Schon became a naturalized British citizen on 28 April 1947, eight years after arriving in the country as a refugee.
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Marchon Products Ltd

Records at the Cumbria County Archives show that Marchon Products Ltd was registered as a company in London on 6 December 1939 by Lionel Morris and Martha Tablin, with Fred Marzillier as Managing Director and Frank Schon the General Manager. The company name. ‘Marchon’, combined part of the surnames of Fred Marzillier and Frank Schon.

To begin with, the company involved itself only as merchants. Then, when the company’s premises were destroyed during the London Blitz of 1940, the company including Fred Marzillier, Frank Schon and their families moved to Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria).

Why did they move to Whitehaven? According to Lord Schon’s daughter Mrs Yvonne Saville, her father looked at a map and saw that Whitehaven in West Cumberland would be a good place to relocate because of its distance from London and so further away from enemy bombers. Another reason for moving to West Cumberland was due to the influence of West Cumbrian industrialist and politician Jack Adams (later Lord Adams of Ennerdale). Again, according to Mrs Yvonne Saville:
““My father’s heart was always in Whitehaven. He loved the Cumbrian people. He and Jack Adams got on very well. He was a workaholic and I believe this was trying to blot out what had happened before he came to this country. My parents’ families were taken in the Holocaust.”

After the move to West Cumberland, the Marchon company began manufacturing firelighters made from sawdust and naphthalene. As the business chemist in the company, Frank Schon was regarded as the main driving force of the business development. Fred Marzillier, who had been born in London in 1906, looked after the business finance and administration.

With Frank Schon’s pre-war knowledge of production and use of synthetic detergents, Marchon as a company went on to begin production in toiletry chemicals. A separate company, Solway Chemicals Ltd., was also founded. From these early modest beginnings Marchon and Solway Chemicals went on to have about 2500 directly employed in these companies at its post-war peak.
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Frank Schon’s working life after Marchon

Frank Schon remained as Chairman and Managing Director of Marchon and Solway Chemicals and on the board of Albright and Wilson, by then the parent company of Marchon, until 5 May 1967. His successor as Chairman of Marchon Products and Solway Chemicals was his brother-in-law, Otto Secher. Mr Secher had previously been the Sales Director.

By this time, he was in his mid-50s but as one door closed another opened. Frank Schon went on to be appointed as a member to the National Research Development Corporation. In 1969 he was appointed Chairman of the NRDC by the then Labour Minister of Technology, Anthony Wedgewood Benn. Frank Schon held this post for ten years, until 1979.

The contributions of Frank Schon and his partner Fred Marzillier to their adopted home town of Whitehaven was formally recognised in 1961 when they were made ‘Freemen of the Borough of Whitehaven. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 1966, Frank Schon was knighted. Then, in 1976, Frank Schon was made a Baron, taking the title Lord Schon of Whitehaven in the county of Cumbria. In concluding his maiden speech in the House of Lords, Lord Schon concluded by saying:
“The debt that I owe to the kindness and humanity of the British people cannot be discharged.”

Lord Schon passed away in London on 7 January 1995, aged 82 His wife Gertrude, Lady Schon, had predeceased him, having passed away in 1993.
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Blue Plaque scheme of the A.J.R.

The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJ.R.) was founded in July 1941. It both represents and supports Jewish victims of Nazi oppression who rebuilt their lives in Britain by social and welfare services. In addition, the A.J.R. is committed to perpetuating the legacy of the refugees and supports several organisations involved engaged in Holocaust memorialisation throughout Britain.

Some of those who attended the unveiling of the A.J.R. Blue Plaque honouring Lord Frank Schon can be seen in photograph No. 3 including Lord Schon’s two daughters (Mrs Yvonne Saville and Mrs Susie Keller) their former housekeeper, Whitehaven born broadcaster Harry King whose parents were also Austrian Jewish refugees, Mr Jamie Reed M.P., Councillor Wendy Skillicorn and Mr and Mrs Coates the present occupants of the house.

Two representatives of the A.J.R., who can also be seen in photograph No. 3, travelled to Whitehaven from London for the event: A.J.R. trustee Mr Frank Harding and Chief Executive, Mr Michael Newman. Mr Newman is also chair of the Communications Working Group and a member of the UK delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This was their first visit to Whitehaven and West Cumbria.

In the press release about the ceremony, Frank Harding explained a little about the A.J.R.’s Blue Plaque project:
“Through our plaque scheme we are honouring prominent Jewish émigrés from Nazism who made a significant contribution to their adopted homeland. The plaque honouring Lord Schon follows the dedication we mounted at Glyndebourne last month to the impresario Sir Rudolf Bing, and previous plaques to memorialise the biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Sir Hans Krebs, to Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who founded the Paralympics, and to the theologian, teacher and rabbi, Dr Leo Baeck. We have also installed a plaque in memory of the Cosmo restaurant in Swiss Cottage, in London, a famous meeting place for the refugees.

We believe that these commemorative plaques will help form a tangible link between the illustrious earlier residents and the local community as well as fascinating residents and visitors. As well as being instructive and informative, they bring the past into the present, and they perpetuate the memory of the person being honoured.”
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Blue Plaque scheme of the A.J.R.

The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJ.R.) was founded in July 1941. It both represents and supports Jewish victims of Nazi oppression who rebuilt their lives in Britain by social and welfare services. In addition, the A.J.R. is committed to perpetuating the legacy of the refugees and supports several organisations involved engaged in Holocaust memorialisation throughout Britain.

Some of those who attended the unveiling of the A.J.R. Blue Plaque honouring Lord Frank Schon can be seen in photograph No. 3 including Lord Schon’s two daughters (Mrs Yvonne Saville and Mrs Susie Keller) their former housekeeper, Whitehaven born broadcaster Harry King whose parents were also Austrian Jewish refugees, Mr Jamie Reed M.P., Councillor Wendy Skillicorn and Mr and Mrs Coates the present occupants of the house.

Two representatives of the A.J.R., who can also be seen in photograph No. 3, travelled to Whitehaven from London for the event: A.J.R. trustee Mr Frank Harding and Chief Executive, Mr Michael Newman. Mr Newman is also chair of the Communications Working Group and a member of the UK delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This was their first visit to Whitehaven and West Cumbria.

In the press release about the ceremony, Frank Harding explained a little about the A.J.R.’s Blue Plaque project:
“Through our plaque scheme we are honouring prominent Jewish émigrés from Nazism who made a significant contribution to their adopted homeland. The plaque honouring Lord Schon follows the dedication we mounted at Glyndebourne last month to the impresario Sir Rudolf Bing, and previous plaques to memorialise the biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Sir Hans Krebs, to Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who founded the Paralympics, and to the theologian, teacher and rabbi, Dr Leo Baeck. We have also installed a plaque in memory of the Cosmo restaurant in Swiss Cottage, in London, a famous meeting place for the refugees.

We believe that these commemorative plaques will help form a tangible link between the illustrious earlier residents and the local community as well as fascinating residents and visitors. As well as being instructive and informative, they bring the past into the present, and they perpetuate the memory of the person being honoured.”
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Conclusion

Photograph No. 4 shows the plaque outside the former Schon family home at Corkickle, Whitehaven. It will be seen by people as they walk past the house on the way to and from the town centre of Whitehaven – a reminder of the significant contribution one Jewish refugee made to Britain after fleeing Nazi occupied Europe.

Between 1940 and 1955 when the Schon family lived in the house at Corkickle where the blue plaque has been sited welcomed family, friends, workers, industrialists and politicians. The family subsequently moved to a larger property at the nearby seaside village of St Bees. According to Lord Schon’s daughter, Mrs Susie Keller, while she was growing up it was quite normal to be entertaining presidents, prime ministers or prominent industrialists.

Away from work, one of Lord Frank Schon’s passions was playing golf. On one occasion when playing a round of golf with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Frank Schon achieved a hole in one. What a talking point this has been ever since!

The A.J.R. blue commemorative plaque for Lord Frank Schon reads as follows:

“LORD SCHON OF WHITEHAVEN
1912 – 1995
Co-founder
Marchon Products Ltd
and Chairman
National Research Development Corporation
lived here
1942 – 1955
ERECTED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF JEWISH REFUGEES”
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading

(1) Click on the following link to read an earlier article by the writer of this article about Lord Frank Schon and Fred Marzillier during WW2 (BBC “People’s War” article A4451717):
From Vienna and London to Whitehaven: Frank Schon and Fred Marzillier

(2) Click on the following link to read an earlier article (October 2015) by Margaret Crosby of the “Whitehaven News” about an earlier visit to Whitehaven by Mrs Yvonne Saville (nee Schon), daughter pf Lord and Lady Schon (Mrs Saville is a well-known painter and sculptor in the London area):
Frank Schon’s daughter’s pilgrimage to Whitehaven rekindles memories

(3) Click on the following link for the website of the Association of Jewish Refugees (A.J.R.):
A.J.R. (website)
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading

(1) Click on the following link to read an earlier article by the writer of this article about Lord Frank Schon and Fred Marzillier during WW2 (BBC “People’s War” article A4451717):
From Vienna and London to Whitehaven: Frank Schon and Fred Marzillier

(2) Click on the following link to read an earlier article (October 2015) by Margaret Crosby of the “Whitehaven News” about an earlier visit to Whitehaven by Mrs Yvonne Saville (nee Schon), daughter pf Lord and Lady Schon (Mrs Saville is a well-known painter and sculptor in the London area):
Frank Schon’s daughter’s pilgrimage to Whitehaven rekindles memories

(3) Click on the following link for the website of the Association of Jewish Refugees (A.J.R.):
A.J.R. (website)
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Acknowledgements

Cumbria County Archives
Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre
(for photograph No. 1 and information about Marchon)

The Association of Jewish Refugees (A.J.R.)

Mrs Yvonne Saville and Mrs Susie Keller
(daughters of Lord and Lady Schon)

The office of Mr Jamie Reed, M.P. (Copeland)

Mrs Margaret Crosby
(from the “Whitehaven News” / C.N. media)

Mr Lyndon and Teresa Coats (Corkickle, Whitehaven)
(current owners of the former Schon family home)
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Friday, 30 September, 2016  

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