Richard Marsh, Baron Marsh

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The Lord Marsh

Richard Marsh 1965.jpg
Marsh in 1965 by Walter Bird
Minister of Transport
In office
Preceded by Barbara Castle
Succeeded by Fred Mulley
Personal details
Born 14 March 1928
Died 29 July 2011 (aged 83)
Alma mater Ruskin College

Richard William Marsh, Baron Marsh, Kt PC (14 March 1928 – 29 July 2011)[1][2] was an English politician and business executive.[3][4]

Background and early life

The son of William Marsh, a foundry worker from Belvedere in southeast London.[4] His father subsequently worked for the Great Western Railway, and the family moved to Swindon.[5] He was educated at Jennings Street Secondary School, Swindon, Woolwich Polytechnic and Ruskin College, Oxford.[4][3] He initially worked as an official for the National Union of Public Employees from 1951 to 1959, during which time he sat on the Clerical and Administrative Whitley Council for the National Health Service.[4][3]

Parliamentary and ministerial career

After unsuccessfully standing at Hertford in 1951, Marsh was elected as Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Greenwich at the 1959 general election.[4][3][2]

As a backbencher he submitted a private members bill in 1960 which despite Government opposition became the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act, a white-collar equivalent of the Factories Act and the forerunner of the Health and Safety at Work Act.[6]

When Labour came to power in 1964 he became a Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and subsequently, in 1965, in the new Ministry of Technology.[6]

Minister of Power

He served in the second Wilson Government as the Minister of Power (1966–68). He piloted the legislation for the nationalisation of the steel industry.[6]

Minister of Transport

Subsequently, he served in the Cabinet as Minister of Transport (1968–69).[4][3] When appointed to the transport ministry he let it be known that (unlike Barbara Castle, his predecessor in the post) he was a motorist, though he insisted that the family car, a Ford Cortina, was run by his wife while he relied on ministerial cars for his transport needs.[7] He was also reported as having taught his father to drive, but having given up trying to perform the same favour for his wife, applying what forty years later appears as imprudent candour in characterising the attempt as "traumatic".[7]

Chairman of British Rail

He left the House of Commons in 1971 to become Chairman of the British Railways Board, a position he held until 1976. On leaving British Rail he was knighted, and became chairman of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association (NPA). The first chairman of the NPA to come from outside of the industry, he served until 1990.[4][3] He also held the chairmanships of the British Iron and Steel Consumers’ Council from 1977–82 and of Allied Investments Ltd from 1977–81. He was also a member of a number of quangoes and held directorships in several private companies and was chairman of TV-am in 1983-84.[4]

Joins Conservatives

In 1978 he announced that he had become a supporter of Margaret Thatcher, and intended to vote Conservative at the forthcoming general election, held in 1979.[3]


Thatcher won the election, and in 1981 she created him a life peer as Baron Marsh, of Mannington in the County of Wiltshire, in 1981.[4][3] He then sat in the House of Lords as a Crossbench peer.[4][3]


In 1975 Marsh's second wife Caroline died in a road accident in Spain in which the wife of broadcaster David Jacobs also lost her life; Marsh and Jacobs both survived the crash.[3][6]

He died in 2011 in London aged 83.[3]


  1. ^ Deceased Lords, Parliament website
  2. ^ a b "Historical list of MPs: constituencies beginning with "G", part 2". Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Lord Marsh". The Times. 2 August 2011. p. 48.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Marsh, Baron". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Lord Marsh". The Independent. 13 August 2011. p. 40.
  6. ^ a b c d Richard Marsh (1978). Off the Rails; An Autobiography. Weidenfeld & Nicolson,London. ISBN 0-297-77387-9.
  7. ^ a b "News and views: Richard marsh - Minister of Transport". Autocar. 128 (nbr 3766): 30. 18 April 1968.
  • Richard Marsh. "Off the Rails: An Autobiography". Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1978. ISBN 0-297-77387-9.

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Richard Marsh
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joseph Reeves
Member of Parliament for Greenwich
Succeeded by
Guy Barnett
Political offices
Preceded by
Fred Lee
Minister of Power
Succeeded by
Ray Gunter
Preceded by
Barbara Castle
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
Fred Mulley
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