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Nostalgia HEADY HEHHADY H4HHADY HEADY Brum industrial giant perished in icy waters of North Atlantic Nostalgia.

THEY were the A-list movers and shakers of their day... Millionaires, socialites, a countess and a silent movie star were aboard the stunning RMS Titanic liner for its maiden voyage in 1912.

And among this elite group was William Hipkins.

Described as a "quiet industrial giant", his contribution to Birmingham was as significant as the city's most famous sons, Matthew Boulton, James Watt and George Cadbury.

For Hipkins was the managing director of W & T Avery, which he transformed from an outdated maker of scales into the largest manufacturer of weighing machines in the world and in the process revolutionised working practices.

In 1895 he also bought Birmingham's industrial heritage. And why don't we about him? That's a question author Andrew explored in his book Balance: A history Businessman Victim William Hipkins, the result of 30 years' he said: "The story hipkins' life is one triumph and tragedy, espionage, sabotage glimpse of a lost era.

"He lived and worked allowing the that saw Birmingham rise to one of the greatest cities in the world, and it was at the centre of world manufacturing.

"His contributions to this state of affairs is not small yet he has been forgotten, due mainly to his own desire for privacy but also due to the many enemies he made during his process of reorganisation of W & T Avery Limited."

Mr Lound, curator of the Avery Museum at Soho Foundry in Smethwick, added: "Born into a dynasty of Birmingham corkscrew makers, William Hipkins rose through the ranks to revolutionise industry.

"Hipkins never sought publicity, yet his management style and dedication would attract praise and criticism in equal measure.

"This quiet industrial giant rose from a grimy brassfounder's shop to run the largest weighing company in the world, set against the turbulent industrial world of the 19th and 20th centuries."

After touring America in his youth during the 1870s, he introduced a number of American business practices to the UK.

They included developing customer service, specific contracts of employment, incentivised training schemes where apprentices were paid to stay on in further education and a Suggestion Scheme, which was the first in the UK and was based on an American system.

Hipkins also axed the practice of "Birmingham Monday" where workers did not go into work on Mondays but instead worked until late Saturdays. He insisted they come in on Mondays and worked until Saturday lunchtime - the move saw him introduce Rochester Clock machines to keep order.

But his changes made him enemies which resulted in a bomb being sent to the Avery factory in Digbeth.

An extract from Mr Lound's book states: "One package was eight inches square and seemed quite heavy for its small size.

"The brown paper wrapping was removed, revealing a small wooden box. The lid was lifted and the clerk heard a small tap as something fell inside.

"He lifted the lid completely off and to his astonishment he saw a small hammer attached by its handle to the lid, the head of the hammer was attached to a nipple which itself was attached to a percussion cap.

"He stared at it for a moment and then realised the main bulk of the box was packed with explosive. He had just opened a bomb!" The police were called, but Hipkins was anxious to keep the incident secret and the culprit was never found.

A former pupil at King Edwards School, New Street, Hipkins also suffered personal heartache. In 1906 he secretly married his wife Lavinia Ellen in London and the happy couple were looking to start a family. But in 1910 she died from cancer.

His decision to set up a subsidiary company in Milwaukee, USA, in order to fight US tariffs would lead him to board the Titanic.

Mr Hipkins, who grew up in Ashted, now Duddeston and Nechells, and lived at 12, Augustus Road, Edgbaston, was heading for the factory in 1912 when he booked on RMS Titanic.

and stayed a couple days at his London home in Albert Hall Mansions before he took the Titanic express boat train from Waterloo to Southampton.

He travelled as a first class passenger on ticket number 680 at a cost of PS50, occupying cabin C-39.

Hipkins died in the disaster, his body, if recovered, was never identified. He was 55.

Mr Lound said: "My book is the biography of Birmingham's forgotten son - the man who changed industry. It's sad that so few people know about him because he was such an influential figure. But hopefully the book will change that."

|A Life in the Balance: A History of Birmingham Businessman and Titanic Victim William Hipkins is now available for sale in book
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 7, 2016
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