1898 – 1991
Inventor, Engineer and Businessman
Reginald W Mann was born in Birmingham. He became an apprentice with the engineering firm, Vickers Ltd. He then served in the Navy during the First World War as an electrical artificer and, on demobilisation, he joined Metro-Vickers in Manchester, relocating to Tyneside in 1920 with his wife Margery.
In 1929, together with Harold Crofton, he founded Victor products to manufacture electrical equipment for use in coal mines. As a result of excellent design work and research and development, the firm demonstrated a strong capacity to innovate, developing an international reputation in its field. Reginald served the company as managing director and chairman between 1944, when Harold Crofton retired, and 1972 when he reduced his involvement in the business.
In 1955, Victor Products floated on the London Stock Exchange and, two years later, Mann gifted shares in the company to form the RW Mann Trust with the intention of giving back to the local community in North Tyneside. Since 1955, the Trust has made grants in excess of £4 million. One of its most high-profile donations was to the St Marys lighthouse appeal in 1986. Mann believed that it was his duty to serve the community. Amongst other roles, he chaired the Whitley Bay council for social service and largely responsible for building the Whitley Bay community hall.
Mann fervently believed in the power of small grants to make a big difference because local charities could mobilise the efforts of volunteers and knew best what needed to be done. He also believed that he had a duty to give back to the local people who had helped make his business a success. Those who knew him personally say that he was a warm and generous person who gained pleasure from helping those less well off than himself.
Reginald Mann was awarded an OBE in the 1958 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to industry and the North East. In 1972, he was given the Freedom of Wallsend, and in 1983 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Civil Law by Newcastle University. He chaired his last meeting of the trust in 1990 and passed away on the following Boxing Day, 1991, aged 92.
Price, M. (2018). Interview with John Hamilton – Secretary RW Mann Trust, Newcastle: Newcastle University.
The Journal. (1992). Founder of charity dies, aged 92, January 9th.
The RW Mann Trust. (2018). About us, Available here (Accessed 13/09/2018).
Victor Products. (2013). The first 50 years, Available here (Accessed: 17/09/2018).