John Mathias Berry and his wife Mary Ann both came from Pembrokeshire, to work in Merthyr. John in his early twenties had been a station-master at Llandysul. In Merthyr he found work as a railway clerk. As a side-line and release for his energies he began to sell packets of tea and by his early forties was a commercial traveller. In 1894, when he was 46 he set up as an auctioneer and estate agent in Victoria Street, Merthyr. His energy and personality won the confidence of Merthyr’s growing population and an Edwardian property boom ensured that he became a wealthy man.
He was also active in public affairs as parliamentary agent for Merthyr’s Liberal MP, D.A. Thomas, (Viscount Rhondda), and as a town ward councillor, first on the Urban District Council and then from 1905 on the Borough Council. It was he in 1912 as mayor who welcomed George V and Queen Mary when they visited Merthyr and Dowlais. That same year he welcomed the 20th Annual Conference of the Independent Labour Party. Merthyr was a busy in place then. His portrait painting in 1912 by G.F. Harris, in which he wears the mayoral robes, is on display in Cyfarthfa Museum. A strong Congregational he was a deacon at Market Square Church. He died on 9 January 1917.
The alderman’s achievements were far exceeded by his sons. All three were clever, hard-working, ambitious and quick to seize opportunities. The eldest, Henry Seymour, born on 17th September 1877, became first pupil-teacher at Abermorlais school and then in 1896 a qualified teacher and on the staff. But a year later he left teaching and joined his father’s estate agency, J.M. Berry & Son. Before long they were handling the sales of some of the largest properties in South Wales.
Then on the 19th June 1915 he made a move that changed his life. He suggested to D.A. Thomas (Later Viscount Rhondda), no longer a Merthyr MP but by then the creator and controller of the largest combine of collieries in Wales, that he should come and work for him. Thomas initially rebuffed Berry but when Berry persisted, said “What about salary?” Berry replied that he did not want salary. All he wanted was a chance to prove his capabilities. Within a matter of days Lloyd George, as Minister of Munitions, asked Thomas (who six weeks earlier survived the sinking of the Lusitania) to return to America to renegotiate munitions contracts with Canada and the USA. He was so successful in these negotiations that in 1916 he was created Baron Rhondda. That same year Lloyd George became Prime Minister and he brought Rhondda into the government as President of the Local Government Board. In 1917 he made him Minister of Food Control in which post he introduced a successful system of rationing and in 1918 Thomas was created Viscount Rhondda.
The result was they Seymour Berry looked after all D.A. Thomas’ financial affairs while he was in government. With his considerable charm and negotiating skills Seymour rapidly became very rich man indeed. He progressed from making deals for Lord Rhondda to acting in partnership with him, and after Rhondda’s death in 1918, continued in business with his daughter Viscountess Rhondda.
During the Great War Lord Rhondda was called upon to take office of President of the Local Government Board, and later as Food Controller, and his lordship entrusted Mr Seymour Berry with the control of his widespread commercial interests, devoting himself exclusively to the demands of important departments of State. Lord Rhondda’s choice was fully justified. The concerns prospered, and their contributions to the national resources during war-time were of enormous importance to the country.
In 1919 with D.R. Llewellyn (later Sir David Llewellyn) they acquired for more than five million (the equivalent of well over 100 million today), the substantial steel firm of John Lysaght with Seymour as company chairman. They had acquisitions in coal, printing and publishing, iron and steel, shipping, engineering and glass making continues apace. Lysaght became part of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds in 1920 and Seymour became a director of GKN and then chairman in 1927. Their interests included companies in Spain, South America and South Africa. At one time he held 75 directorships probably more than anyone else in Britain although on his death they had been reduced to just over 20, sometimes through amalgamations. The sharpness of his dealings was not to everyone’s taste, particularly in the small world of South Wales where he upset various business rivals.
For all his financial acumen he was a self-confessed compulsive gambler on the stock exchange. He used to say that he arrived at his office in the morning he would not know whether he was a pauper or a millionaire. He needed to have worried. During World War One he bought Gwaelodygarth House, William Crawshay’s old house, then in 1919 the Gurnos Farm and 500 acres, and finally in 1922 the Buckland Estate at Bwlch with 2,600 acres of land and four miles of salmon fishing on the Usk. In July 1926 he was created Baron Buckland of Bwlch for public, political and philanthropic services.
During the Great War he organised a “Tank Week” at Merthyr and beat all records by raising £1,000,000 in a district which was not expected to find half that sum. His collection for the Merthyr Peace Memorial reached £15,000 (including his own gift of £1,000), and the sum was distributed among the needy ex-Service men and their dependents. He raised funds for the Brecon County War Memorial Hospital by a great fete at Buckland and not only contributed generously himself, but gave thousands of pounds to churches, chapels, and hospitals in Glamorgan and Breconshire.
The Right Hon. Thomas Richards, the South Wales Miners’ secretary, once startled an audience, of which Mr Berry himself was one, by describing Lord Buckland (then Mr Berry) as “one of the most selfish men he knew.” After an oratorical pause Mr Richards went on, “The good old Book says it is more blessed to give than to receive, and it is certain that Mr Berry by his munificence is going to grab all the blessing that can be got. Riches either serve or govern those in possession of them, and it is evident that Mr Berry is going to make the best use of his wealth.”
Invited to Stand for Parliament by All Parties
Lord Buckland, firm believer as he was in private enterprise, was always a vigorous opponent of the Labour candidates at Parliamentary elections, but political considerations did not interfere with his personal popularity, and his cheery personality was always welcome amongst all classes of the community. Not the least remarkable of many tributes that have been paid to him was the joint request made to him in 1922 by the Conservative, Liberal, and Constitutional Labour parties to stand as Parliamentary candidate for the borough of Merthyr. To the regret of all he declined on account of the demands made on his time by business responsibilities.
Outdoor sports always had an attraction for him, and ay Buckland with its fine salmon and trout river, the Usk, its well-stocked coverts, and its admirable golf course, he was able to indulge in sport to his heart’s content and to devote himself to the rearing of pedigree cattle and the cultivation of exquisite flowers. He was thoroughly unselfish in his desire to share his sport with others. He was a good supporter of the hunting packs, and his eldest daughter, the Hon. Eileen Berry became master of the old Gelligaer and Talybont pack, which now bears her name.
In 1917 Seymour offered Merthyr Council “£10,000” for a technical college and mining institute to be called J.M. Berry Institute in memory of his father. When increased costs threatened to delay the project he doubled his original offer and used his directorships to raise a further £33,000 from GKN, Ocean Coal, Nixon’s Navigation Colliery and other local firms. The Board of Education, however, delayed giving permission for it to proceed and the monies were eventually used to provide.
Scholarships for students pursuing technical subjects at other institutions. He gave land and money for the building of Sandbrook sanatorium at Pontsarn, named after his father-in-law. He gave £12,000 for a new wing, opened in 1922, at Merthyr General Hospital. That same year he used his position on the GKN board to invest more money in the Dowlais works and pits. His help to Merthyr continued after he became Freeman. In November 1926 Buckland and friends purchased the Hill’s Plymouth Collieries from the receiver for £160,000 and guaranteed twelve months work for 1,500 miners.
On July 6th 1923 he had already received the Freedom of Merthyr Tydfil Borough for his charitable work, which was certainly outstanding. Only a few examples of his generosity can be given. He bought the Carlton Workman’s Hotel and gave it to Merthyr ex-Servicemen for a club. In 1920 he raised £60,000 to invest in Merthyr Housing Bonds in order that the council could start building houses. He financed the building of the Gwaunfarren baths, Merthyr’s first heated swimming pool. He arranged that GKN sold the freehold of six Dowlais churches built on company land for one shilling each. The churches were Caersalem, Bethania, Hebron, Penywern, Calfaria and Ifor. When Merthyr council was in financial difficulties over Edwardsville Secondary School he came up with a four figure sum that enabled the work to go on. In the distressing winter of 1921-22 he gave as much money as could be spent’ to organisations relieving personal cases of poverty. He provided funds to give prizes to the borough’s school-children and gave hundreds of pounds to Merthyr Football Club and Dowlais Male Voice Choir.
Lord Buckland’s services to the nation were recognised on July 2 1926, when he was created a baron on the United Kingdom. He selected as his title the name of his beautiful castle in Breconshire.
After his elevation to the peerage the generously of Lord Buckland expanded. Among the gifts last year was one of £5,000 a year for seven years, or £35,000 in all, to the National Museum of Wales. Only last month he, with Lady Buckland and his brothers, Sir William Ewert Berry, Bart, and Sir Gomer Berry, Bart, made a joint gift of £750 a year for seven years to the Merthyr General Hospital.
His lordship not only contributed handsomely too many charitable objects and lent his grounds as Gwaelodygarth, Merthyr, and at Buckland for great fetes, but he was active in collecting worthy objects.
It was only on Monday that an agreement was signed by Lord Buckland in association with Sir David R. Llewellyn, Bart, on the one side and Sir Alfred Mond, Bart, on the other, for the merging of the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Anthracite Collieries (Limited), and the Vale of Neath Collieries (Limited) with the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries (Limited). It was arranged that Lord Buckland and Sir David Llewellyn, Bart, should join the board of the joint enterprises, in which there was reason to believe that the remaining anthracite interests would join or, alternatively, establish an understanding. Much was expected from this deal which it was believed would bring about renewed prosperity to the anthracite trade and restore happiness and employment to thousands of workers. Presumably the agreement will be duly carried out, but the sudden death of Lord Buckland, creates a gap that it will be hard to fill, and naturally will cause some delay in the arrangements that have to be made.
As the active chairman of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (Limited), who have so many great enterprises both in this country and abroad under their control, and, as chairman or director of many linked and independent undertakings, which include such concerns as John Lysaght (Limited), the sudden removal of Lord Buckland cannot fail to cause some temporary dislocation. His place will be hard to fill, and it will be next to impossible to find anyone ready to take up reins of business dropped so dramatically.
As time went on, and the calls of the larger enterprises under is control became more insistent, he felt the need of devoting more of his time to such undertakings, and he also recognised that the strain upon him demanded rest and recreation. This he found upon his beautiful estate of Buckland, which he acquired in 1922. He relinquished many of the smaller directorships and latterly was on the boards of just over twenty companies.
During the forties, another visitor to the area was busy composing his opus magnum a work that would make his name famous amongst the love generation of the Sixties, J R. R. Tolkien ensconced himself in Talybont-on-Usk, the village overlooked by Buckland, to write sections of Lord of the Rings. He borrowed generously from the locality to feed the voracious appetite of his book for people and place-names. His friend, Fred from Tredegar, appears as Fredegar and Crickhowell turns up as Crick Hollow. Merthyr (Mordor), perhaps. Buckland, which as the book describes, does “lie on the east of the river” became the residence of the strange Bucklebury and was the childhood home of Frodo Baggins. It was the last place within The Shire that Frodo visited before leaving with the ring.
Now, some people may try to tell you that the Buckland that gets ten mentions in the Lord of the Rings is assumed to be a Buckland in Oxfordshire. However, we had a visit from a New Zealand researcher for The Lord of the Rings film production producing a photo record of all the places connected with the book. Their unequivocal conclusion is that our Buckland near Talybont was the real inspiration – so, that’s good enough for us!
Thousands turned out to the route. In his will he left shares in GKN to the value of £50,000 to be put into a trust, the income to be applied to helping the poor of Merthyr Tydfil; a further 1,000 shares to provide annual prizes to the pupils of Abermorlais, Cyfarthfa and County Schools; and 1,000 shares to Market Square Church.
Extensive and Varied Interests
Mr Berry’s interests are extensive and varied. Naturally, a man of such exceptional ability has been much sought after by the boards of directors of public companies, and at one time he held more directorships that any other man in the country. Directorships indeed came to him unsought. His influence in the world of commerce and finance his extraordinary knowledge if markets, which he has systematically studied for years, his quick grasps of detail and almost uncanny power of immediate and right decision make him an invaluable member of any board.
Latterly Mr Berry has relinquished some of his directorships, preferring to spend more leisure hours at his country seat in Breconshire, but the list of directorships still held by him shows how extensive his interests are in the industrial life of South Wales. Guest, Keen, and Nettlefolds, with 40,000 shareholders and a capital of £20,000,000, is as has been said, one of the most successful iron and steel concerns in the world. Lysaght’s, now associated with Guest, Keen, and Nettlefolds, is a firm of Empire wide ramifications, Gueret’s, with its subsidiaries, is one of the largest exporting firms in the country.
Altogether the companies in which Mr Berry is interested employ 50,000 workers, and it is worth emphasising that in conditions of pay and employment they have set a very high standard.
Buckland House is one of the stately mansions of the country, set in a singularly beautiful estate and well-timbered grounds. The River Usk runs through the park lands and beyond the Usk rise the stately Brecknock Beacons.
The house, which is surrounded by exceptionally fine gardens and lawns, with herb garden maze, and other notable features, was re-built in the Elizabethan style after the old mansion had been destroyed by fire in January 1896. The house is, therefore of the most modern type in cosiness and comfort, notwithstanding the size of its rooms.
Lord Buckland married in 1907 Gwladys Mary, the oldest daughter of the late Mr Simon Sandbrook, J.P. of Merthyr Tydfil, and there is a family of five daughters. Lady Buckland has always been associated with her husband in his works of charity, and born and brought up, like himself, in Merthyr, she endeared herself to the people of her native town. She is closely identified with hospital work in Brecon and Merthyr and is president of one of the Breconshire divisions of the St John Ambulance (Nursing) Association and of the Merthyr and Dowlais Nursing Associations. She had thrown herself enthusiastically into the widespread charitable and educational activities of her husband. For her, as for Lord Buckland, Merthyr was still very close to Buckland, and at the Breconshire mansion she carried on the duties of hostess with a charm and hospitality in keeping with the great traditions of the house.
A Charming Home Life
Lord Buckland’s home life was one of great charm and happiness. He was always a delightful host, and those who have been privileged to spend a few days at Buckland, enjoying its wonderful fishing and shooting, or riding over then spacious park lands in company with his lordship, have carried away an unforgettable impression of a splendid, generous, and high-minded man. He loved nothing better than to be amongst his children, joining in their love if the open country and in their merry parties around the fire-side. With Lady Buckland and her five daughters there will today be deep and heartfelt sympathy. The late Lord Buckland was not only a devoted husband and father; he was a kindly and generous master, and a cheerful friend, hailed with pleasure wherever he went on his own estate or on the surrounding villages. He was a friend to all, and many people in South Wales will miss his merry voice, his hearty handshake and that generous unfailing sympathy with those in trouble which endeared him to all who knew him.
Mr Berry’s Directorships
The following is the list of Mr Berry’s directorships according to the 1926 “Directory of Directors”:-
Albion Steam Coal Company (Limited)
Anglo-Spanish Coaling Company (Limited)
Britannic Merthyr Coal Company (Limited)
Cambrian Collieries (Limited)
Celtic Collieries (Limited)
Consolidated Cambrian (Limited)
Craggs and Fletcher (Insurance) Limited
Crown Preserved Coal Company (Limited)
Cwmaman Coal Company (Limited)
D. Davis and Sons (Limited)
Duffryn Aberdare Colliery Company (Limited)
Glamorgan Coal Company (Limited)
Graigola Merthyr Company (Limited)
Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (Limited)
Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Company (Limited) Deputy-Chairman
Imperial Navigation Coal Company (Ltd)
John Lysaght (Limited) Chairman
Joseph Sankey and Sons (Limited) Chairman
Joshua Hoyle and Sons (Limited)
L. Guest and Company (Limited) Deputy-Chairman
Llewellyn, Merrett, and Price (London) Limited
Meiros Collieries (Limited) Chairman
Morgan, Wakley, and Company (Limited)
Naval Colliery Company (1897) Limited
North’s Navigation Collieries (1889) Limited
Troedyrhiw Coal Company (Limited))
Vale of Neath Colliery Company (Limited)
Welsh Navigation Steam Coal Company (Limited)
Western Mail Limited
Ynisarwed Collieries Company (Limited)
They controlled large coal and patent fuel enterprises in France and Algeria, and also in South America, including the Anglo-Argentine, Canary Islands Coal and Iron Depots, Cre Delnas Freres et Vieljeux (La Rochelle), Guerets, Llewellyn and Conti’s Coal Company (Malta), Anglo-Brazilian Coaling Company, Anglo-Uruguayan Coal Company, Societa Britannico-Italiana, Genoa, Socite Commerciale Bordelaise de Houilles et Agglomeres (Paris), Socite Marocaine de Charbons de Houilles er Agglomeres Societe Tunnisienns de Houilles et Agglomores, and Union Commerciale se Bordeaux-Bassens (Paris).
Anchor Patent Fuel Works, Cardiff and it will be noted that they are joint sales agents with Messrs. D.R. Llewellyn, Merrett, and Price for the Blaenclydach Colliery.
His final wish was that his wife should continue to support charitable institutions and in particular Merthyr General Hospital.’ A statue of him by Goscombe John was unveiled outside the central library on 5th June 1931 by Sir John Beale, the Chairman of GKN. A bust by the same sculptor is in Cyfarthfa Museum.
Mr Lloyd George’s Tribute
The scene at the presentation will long be remembered for its enthusiasm. Rarely has so great a tribute been to a man by his fellow-townsmen, and in Merthyr’s tribute the whole South Wales desired to share, for the gathering was representative of practically all the industrial and commercial and educational and charitable activities of the district. Many compliments were given to the new Freeman, and Mr Lloyd George wrote: – “Many congratulations on the honour Merthyr paying to you, and honour richly merited not only by your generous endowment for educational work in the town, but by your public service. It is vividly in my recollection that the late Lord Rhondda only felt himself free to accept office of Food Controller by the confidence in which he was able to leave in your very competent hands the direction of his business interests.” Mr J.H. Thomas, M.P. and Mr W. Jenkins, M.P. were amongst others who sent letters cordially endorsing the honour.
How Lord Buckland met his Death
Fatal Morning Gallop
Crash into a telegraph post in meadow
Warning comes too late
Tragic close to brilliant business career
The Western Mail deeply regrets to announce that the Right Hon. Lord Buckland of Bwlch was killed whilst out for a morning ride on horseback at Buckland, his Breconshire seat, on Wednesday morning.
Accompanied by his groom he was proceeding at a gallop across a field, while he turned around to speak to the servant, who was following a short distance behind, his mount ran towards a post which carries telegraph wires over the meadow.
“Mind the post, my lord,” cried the groom, but before his master could pull a rein the animal swerved and Lord Buckland swayed in the opposite direction, his head crashing into the post.
Mercifully, death proved instantaneous.
By Lord Buckland’s death Wales has lost one of her large-hearted benefactors and probably the most brilliant of the younger school of business men associated with her principal industries. He was 51 years of age, and is survived by Lady Buckland and five daughters, the Hon. Eileen, Lorraine, Dorothy, Sybil and Cecily Berry. Sit William Berry, Bart, and Sir J. Gomer Berry, Bart, with whom he was associated in several enterprises, are of course, Lord Buckland’s brothers.
Statue of Lord Buckland
Simple story of the accident
Horse swerves and its master is unseated
When in residence at his Breconshire home Lord Buckland made a habit of taking an early morning gallop before settling down, after a bath and breakfast, to the business of the day. About quarter-past eight on Wednesday morning he set out for a ride over the Buckland grounds in his favourite bay mare, followed by a groom Henry Weaver, who has spent several years in his service.
Lord Buckland had left home barely five minutes when he was brought back dead. He was killed almost within sight of his home.
Chatting happily with Weaver, now half-turning in the saddle to make an observation and again throwing an over-the-shoulder remark, as they galloped along. Lord Buckland proceeded at a hand gallop across a field through which runs a line of telegraph posts.
It was suddenly noticed by Weaver that his master’s horse was making directly for one of these poles and he cried out, “Mind that post, my Lord.”
Almost at the same moment the mare, which was only a few paces off the telegraph swerved to the left and Lord Buckland, who seems to have swayed in the opposite direction, crashed into the post. The skull was fractured and death was instantaneous.
Weaver immediately hastened to his master’s side only to find that he was beyond aid.
Assistance was summoned and the body was conveyed to the house. Meantime, Dr Tresawna had been called on the telephone from Abergavenny.
Lord Buckland was an experienced horseman, and had ridden to hounds for many years with the old Talybont and Gelligaer pack, of which his eldest daughter, the Hon. Eileen Berry, was the master and which now bears her name.
One of the first callers at Buckland and the tragedy was Lord Glanusk. Soon afterwards Sir David R. Llewellyn, Bart, Lord Buckland’s closet business colleagues came, who remained throughout the day. In the afternoon he was joined by Sir William Berry, Bart, and Sir Gomer Berry, Bart, the dead peer’s brothers, and Mr R.S. Sandbrook.
Dr W.R. Jones, coroner for South Breconshire, will conduct the inquest on Lord Buckland today (Thursday) at ten a.m.
Loss to British Commerce
Striking tributes from London and the Provinces
The dramatic news of the death of Lord Buckland caused a shock to members at the House of Commons, where he had many friends. Members of all parties who had come into contact with Lord Buckland from time to time during his visits to both Houses of Parliament and in business affairs were deeply grieved as the news of the tragedy.
Tributes were paid to his generous disposition and his great business acumen, and members were unanimous in their view that his death was an irreparable loss, not only to Wales but to business and commerce throughout the country.
The tragedy was the sole topic of conversation at the Coal and Shipping Exchange.
There was everywhere expressions of sympathy with Lady Buckland and the family.
Premier in late Peer’s “Business Genius”
The news was communicated quite early in the day to Mr Stanley Baldwin on whose recommendation Lord Buckland was raised to Peerage.
The Prime Minister was deeply moved by the message and declared that he greatly admired Lord Buckland’s business genius and personal qualities.
Mr Lloyd George said he was deeply grieved to hear of the distressing news and added that Lord Buckland’s career, from first to last, had been a credit to him.
Mr Ramsay Macdonald also expressed great regret at the news.
Father of the House
“Man with strong sense of duty to his fellows”
Mr T.P. O’Connor (Father of the House of Commons): This is a great shock. Taking off a man so remarkable, so full of resource and vigour, occupied at the moment in new and great commercial undertakings, is a fervent reminder of the wail that has gone through all literature and to the tragic uncertainty of human destiny. Lord Buckland, besides the loss this brings to the industrial interests of his country, will be missed, especially by those who had the pleasure of knowing him personally. He remained to the end simple, good humoured, and a little ironical. He loved a great joke as hugely as a great stroke of business. He never took himself with any pretentious seriousness. Behind a great desire for success there lay a strong sense of his duty to his fellow-men. He was too quiet and unpretentious, perhaps, to have this side of his character fully appreciated, but those who knew well, know how, instant this anxiety to be helpful to the less fortunate remained with him an abiding inspiration.
Welsh Unionist Whip
“Acute perception and a fertile brain”
Major William Cope, M.P.: His death is a great shock to me because I looked upon him as having a great future in the industries not only of Wales but of Great Britain. He was a man of great business genius, with an acute perception in business matters and a fertile brain.
Mr Walter Runciman, M.P.: Lord Buckland’s death is a great loss to Wales. He was one of the masters of industry in every sense of the term, a master of its technique, of its organisation, and of its difficulties. He never allowed the conditions of trade to overmaster him. Even those who were not directly interested in his many concerns had great admiration for him and deeply deplore his death.
Man of “Generous gifts and actions”
Mr G.H. Hall, M.P.: Although I disagreed fundamentally with Lord Buckland’s outlook, still we must all give him credit for the way in which he advanced step by step until he filled so important a position in the industrial and social life of South Wales, It may be said of him that, although he had attained so high a position in financial circles, he never forgot the district in which he was brought up or neglected the county of his adoption. Because of his generous gifts and actions the people of South Wales will sorely miss him and deplore his sudden death. Always genial, always approachable, always willing to assist people in distress, he had won a host of friends among all classes.
Mr Richard Wallhead, M.P.: I heard the news with great regret, and I am extremely sorry that so brilliant a career has thus been cut short. I had no feeling against Lord Buckland, and whenever we met he was most friendly, despite our political differences. No one could fail to appreciate his public spirit, and the town of Merthyr has shown its gratitude to him for his many services by conferring on him its highest civic honour. It is indeed sad to think that a life which was so full of enterprise and energy has been so abruptly ended.
Mr Morgan Jones, M.P.: We are all grieved at Westminster to hear of the news which brings to an end a truly wonderful career.
Mr George Barker, M.P.: Members were appalled when they heard of the tragedy involving the passing away of a man who had taken such an active interest in the social and industrial life of the country.
“Brilliant and Generous Son of Wales”
Captain Arthur Evans, M.P.: Lord Buckland, to my mind, was in a school of his own. Few people could have reached the high position he commanded without an undoubted genius. His death is a tragic blow to all his friends.
Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke, Bart, M.P.; Lord Buckland was a great man in every sense of the word and his loss to Wales is irreparable. There was hardly an activity in which he was not interested, and in every undertaking in which he played a part he left his mark. His place in industry, journalism, and social life will be very difficult to fill, and he leaves behind him a host of friends in all classes of life who will mourn his loss and treasure his memory. To his widow and family all hearts go out in deepest sympathy.
Mr Lewis Lougher, M.P.: Lord Buckland’s great outstanding personality exercised an influence upon all with whom he came in contact, whether in business, civil, or social circles. His genius for finance brought him great positions in the industrial world, but with all his success he never forgot his friends: he was just the same “Seymour Berry” as we had always known him. His generous disposition, his kindness of heart, and his thought for others endeared him not only to his friends, but to thousands of others, many of whom had not even seen him. South Wales has lost one of her most brilliant and generous sons who, in the prime of life, was devoting all his talents to the advancement of the Principality and the development of her trade and industry.
Mr Vernon Hartshorn, M.P.: I was greatly shocked to hear of Lord Buckland’s death. I travelled with him to London on Monday, and he was as full of life and vivacity as ever. It is very difficult to estimate at the moment what his death will involve to the industrial life of Wales, but no man who has played so great a part in the trade and enterprise of Wales during the past decade as Lord Buckland has can be taken immediately out of the arena without very considerable consequences resulting. He had many estimable qualities.
Member for Brecon
“No one adequately to fill his place”
Mr D’arcy Hall M.P.: Wales has lost several of its leading men in recent years, but in the present times in the due fulfilment of their years, but in the present case Lord Buckland’s invaluable career ended in the prime of his life. I would like to pay a tribute to his great public spirit, his personal sacrifice, and his generous encouragement of everything that is best in the life of the community. In fact, he personified Breconshire, and there is, perhaps, in that role no one who can adequately fill his place. His career affords guidance to those who would wish to attain the highest ideals of the life a public man ought to lead. His memory will be cherished as much for this reason as for the unbounded sympathy and kindly and effective aid which he gave to every good work on behalf of the community in which he was such an outstanding citizen.
Concern for his men
Mr Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.: Lord Buckland’s genius on questions of finance was well known, and his rise to wealth was one of the romances of one business world. Great, however, as his dealings were in this direction, what impressed me chiefly about him was his pride in the fact that he knew nearly all those men who were engaged in his collieries at Merthyr by name, and that even in the days of his success he was genuinely interested in their personal welfare. His heart was as sensitive to matters of human concern as his mind was alert on questions of finance and industry.
Sir D.R. Llewellyn
Loss of “The staunchest of friends”
Sir David R. Llewellyn, Bart, (associated with Lord Buckland in several industrial concerns): I have lost the staunchest of friends; to me he was a real friend. His loss is irreparable tome. I am at a loss to express all I feel. He was a man of great moral courage and of fine character: in fact, he was a man of the greatest moral courage I have ever met. Duty was his first concern-always. He did not mind being made a scapegoat, so long as he felt he had done his duty. I have lost the dearest of friends.
Coal Trade Chief
“Intuitively got to the root of business”
Sir Alfred Cope (director of the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries): I personally regard the late Lord Buckland as a very great man. He had a wonderful grasp of business, and it was obvious that he was a man if wide vision. An exceedingly quick worker, he had the valuable faculty of coming to a rapid and courageous decision.
It was evident that he was enjoying a very full and industrious life. He brushed small details aside and intuitively got to the root of the business on which he was engaged with facility which was very marked.
He had the valuable faculty, however, of cutting out of business when business was over.
On Monday, when I last saw him, he was pointing out how essential it was to look after one’s health, no matter how strenuous the day’s work may be.
He certainly had tremendous “drive,” and I, personally, was looking forward with genuine pleasure to be associated with him in the working out of the provisional agreement which he had signed with Sir Alfred Mond, Mr Szarvasy, and Sir David R. Llewellyn as recently as Monday last in connection with the anthracite industry.
Lord Aberdare: Wales has sustained a national loss and the business world a commanding personality. We cannot too deeply regret the death of such a man in the prime of life.
Lord Glanusk: From the moment Lord Buckland settled in Breconshire he showed that great heartedness and immense generosity which are now known throughout Wales. In association with the late lord-lieutenant of the county (my father), Lord Buckland worked for the common welfare of the county. Few people realise how much we owe to that association. They were together, especially in connection with the County Memorial Hospital, the opening of which is still so fresh in our minds. Together, they were indubitably linked up for all time, the set purpose of the one and the unfailing optimism and drive of the other formed a combination rarely to be found, and it was a very happy combination, two men with utterly different outlooks on life yet attracted to one another by a common desire to try to help their fellowmen and women in every possible way.
Sir Vincent Evans, C.H.: The news of the tragic and unexpected death of Lord Buckland was received with consternation by his Welsh friends and acquaintances in London. Immersed as he was in trade and finance, he maintained the old and friendly intercourse with those who were intimate with him in his early days. I knew little of him commercially, but in matters of benevolence and philanthropy many institutions with which I happen to be connected have largely benefited through his generosity. He had a sound acquaintance with the literature of Wales, but was perhaps not very keenly interested. All the same one could always appeal to him and rely upon his support. The tragic accident which we all deplore has prematurely cut off a life of infinite possibilities.
Story of meeting with Bishop Owen
Dr Leolin Phillips (headmaster of Christ College, Brecon): lord Buckland’s untimely death has cast a profound gloom over Breconshire, is a cause of mourning for Christ College, and, if I may so, a matter of personal grief for myself. As far back as the beginning of the nineties he was with me a pupil at Merthyr Higher Grade School under that very great headmaster, Mr Fleming, who died last year. Lord Buckland often spoke to me of that time and of the esteem in which he held his old headmaster. In those days Latin was a subject in standard VII, and ex-VII, and Lord Buckland could even recently quote to me lines of Virgil which he had done there.
It was with intense interest that I followed his career afterwards, and when he was appointed High Sheriff of Breconshire, he kindly consented to give away the prizes at our speech day in 1924 when he ended a remarkable address by advising the boys “to hitch their wagon to a star and to put their own shoulder to the wheel of the wagon.” On that day he first met Dr John Owen, Bishop of St David’s, and I was most interested to be present at the meeting and to hear the conversation of two men of outstanding ability in their respective spheres. Each afterwards acknowledged to me the deep impression which the other had made on him.
When the opportunity offered Lord Buckland at once accepted a seat on the governing board of this school. He had already anonymously given £100 a year for a scholarship within my discretion, and he immediately announced his intention of playing no inactive part as a governor.
His interest in the school, like the late Lord Glanusk, was unbounded, and I make no secret of the sad and sudden loss which this college has sustained.
Lord Buckland was a man with unbounded confidence in his own powers, ability to get quickly to the point, brushing aside all extraneous matter and a speed in action which was almost devastating.
He never forgot his friends of humbler days, one of the true tests of greatness in any man. He was the life and soul of a children’s party at his hospitable home, and his pride in and attachment to his brothers were frequent themes of conversation.
Lord Buckland’s Benefactions
Lord Buckland’s benefactions, both public and private, have never been published, and probably, will never become known, but up to the time of his elevation to the peerage, in 1926, his gifts included:-
Welsh National Museum 35,000.00
The J.M. Berry Technical Institute at Merthyr 25,000.00
Merthyr General Hospital (new wing) 12,000.00
Swimming Baths for Merthyr 10,000.00
Cardiff University College 7,000.00
Merthyr Ex-Service Men’s Club 3,000.00
Peace Memorial Fund 1,500.00
Minimum Stipend for Nonconformist Ministers 1,500.00
Brecon Memorial College 1,000.00
Welsh Congregational Sustentation Fund 1,000.00
Last month Lord and Lady Buckland, in association with Sir William Berry, Bart, and Sir Gomer Berry, Bart, made a gift to the Merthyr General in such form as to give the hospital £750 per annum for the next seven years.
“Almost alone in Wales”
Sir John Daniel: Lord Buckland was a pioneer of industry, stood almost alone on the industrial life of Wales. Apart altogether from the large sums of money he publicly gave to charity, he had in many ways aided education and philanthropic movements of which the world has no knowledge.
Mr Thomas Evans (Chairman of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coalowners’ Association): The coal trade has lost in Lord Buckland one of the most brilliant and able leader, it has ever had, and naturally he will be greatly missed in all vital matters connected with the South Wales coal trade.
As a friend I always found him a great sport, cheerful, and at all times he took a broad view of things and was intensely interested in everything appertaining to the progress of the district. When we discussed serious matters he always took a consistent, religious view.
“Wonderful man, had done fine work”
Mr J. Llewellyn Morgan (David Morgan Limited, Cardiff): We have lost a wonderful man in Lord Buckland. He was still a comparatively young man, and this reflects great credit on his undoubted influence as a business man. He has done fine work, especially with industrial undertakings.
John Cory and Sons (Limited): In the death of Lord Buckland the community has lost one of the ablest and most brilliant pioneers of commerce. His foresight and sound judgement places in the front rank, and made him a person who could be well trusted always.
Mr Finlay A. Gibson (Secretary of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coalowners’ Association): Lord Buckland was a gentleman of keen ability in all matters relating to the coal trade. Hr possessed extraordinary foresight, and on all occasions rendered valuable assistance to the association.
Mr T.P. Cook, J.P., Swansea (Amalgamated Anthracite): His tragic death will be very deeply regretted in the coal trade, in which he will be greatly missed, for he was a very able man who took a very active share in the control of the enterprises and which he was associated.
Mr W.A. Jenkins, J.P., Swansea. He was an extraordinary personality, a very lovable man, and very tender when you knew him well. He was the life and soul of anything to which he put his fingers.
Col. John Lloyd, M.C. of Dinas, Brecon. Breconshire has lost the one man in the county who could take the place of the late Lord Glanusk. Lord Buckland’s wealth and ability were used to help every good cause in the county and no one appealed to him in vain. The county of Brecon will feel his loss as a great and enthusiastic leader in all matters in the interests of charity.
“He was always our friend in need”
Mayor of Merthyr, (Mrs M.A. Edmunds, J.P.) Merthyr has suffered a terrible blow by the death of Lord Buckland. It came so suddenly that one found it almost impossible to appreciate the full, tragic significance of it. Lord Buckland was always Merthyr’s friend in need. The sympathy of the womenfolk of Merthyr is with Lady Buckland and her children in their sorrow.
Mr H.M. Lloyd, J.P.: (who when the late Alderman J.M. Berry, Lord Buckland’s father, who was mayor of Merthyr acted as his deputy). Lord Buckland was a man to whom Merthyr never appealed in vain for assistance. His liberality was limitless, and no one who came to plead for a deserving cause was ever turned away empty-handed from his doors.
Mr Harry Evans, J.P. (chairman of the Merthyr board of Guardians and a Labour leader). However much we may have differed from Lord Buckland from a political or industrial point of view, all of us honoured him for his great philanthropic services. Among the hosts of charitable organisations he supported at Merthyr was the Blind Institute, to which he was a generous subscriber.
Mr Tudor Davies, J.P. (Chairman of the Merthyr General Hospital Committee). Lord Buckland’s death came as a terrible shock to Merthyr; it has cast a gloom over the town. He was our only surviving freeman and was looked upon as Merthyr’s truest friend, one to whom it could always turn in times of difficulty and hardship. His death is undoubtedly the greatest loss Merthyr has ever sustained. The town and its people owed him a tremendous debt of gratitude, if only for what he did to keep the industry, in iron, steel, and coal alike, alive here. Our hospital has shared generously in his philanthropic munificence, and there are scores of young people, brought up in working-class house-holds and holding good positions in the commercial, industrial, and educational worlds today, whose training and advancement are due to the kindly and practical interest taken in them by him. The sympathy of every man, woman, and child in Merthyr goes out to Lady Buckland and her daughters.
Mr Isaac Edwards, J.P. (ex-chairman of the Merthyr Chamber of Trade). Merthyr mourns the loss of its most distinguished townsman in Lord Buckland. He was a unique member of a unique family. His work for public charities is well-known. But there was another side to his giving. He helped people in need with an unostentatious liberality, and none knew of it but himself and those he helped. There is many a Merthyr home where he will for ever be held in affectionate memory as a man who, while he might have had gold in his purse, possessed also a heart of gold. To those of us privileged to call him friend, he was always “Seymour.” Henry Seymour Berry remained unspoiled by riches and rank. His tragic removal has been too sudden for Merthyr yet to realise the full measure of its loss.
Lord Mayor’s message to Lady Buckland
The Lord Major of Cardiff (Alderman A.J. Howell, J.P.) sent a telegram of sympathy to Lady Buckland on behalf of the citizens of Cardiff.
Cardiff Education Committee at a meeting on Wednesday passed a vote of condolence on the death of Lord Buckland.
Merthyr Hospital Carnival
Lord Buckland was to have performed the opening ceremony in connection with the Merthyr General Hospital carnival at Cyfarthfa Park on Whit-Tuesday. The gala committee, meeting on Wednesday night, decided to proceed with the carnival, and arranged to ascertain Lady Buckland’s wishes to regard to the matter according to the original plan, Lady Buckland was to have accompanied Lord Buckland to the carnival and to crown the May Queen.