Wilfred Banks Duncan Brown was born in Greenock in Scotland on 29 November 1908. He was educated at Rossall School and later received honorary degrees from Brunel (DTech) in 1966, Illinois (Doctor of Laws) in 1967 and Cranfield (DSc) in 1972. In 1939 he married Marjorie Hershall Skinner, with whom he had three sons. He died on 17 March 1985.
Brown joined the Glacier Metal Company in 1931, and was its Managing Director and Chairman 1939-1965. He was Director of Associated Engineering 1964-1965. He was Pro-Chancellor of Brunel University 1966-1980.
Brown was awarded the MBE in 1944 and was created a Life Peer, as Baron Brown of Machrihanish, in 1964. He was Minister of State at the Board of Trade 1975-1970 and was appointed to the Privy Council in 1970. As Lord Brown he was active in the House of Lords. He sat on the Select Committee on the European Communities and the Select Committee on Science and Technology, and was a member of the Industrial Development Advisory Board and chairman of the Machine Tool Advisory Committee.
Brown's published works include: "Managers, Men and Morale" (with Mrs W Raphael), 1947; "Exploration in Management", 1960; "Piecework Abandoned", 1962; "Product Analysis Pricing" (with Elliott Jaques), 1964; "Glacier Project Papers" (with Elliott Jaques), 1965; "Organization", 1971; "The Earnings Conflict", 1973; "Bismarck to Bullock" (with Wolfgang Hirsh-Weber), 1983.
The collection held at Churchill Archives Centre provides a good picture of Wilfred Brown's varied career. It includes material on his work at the Glacier Metal Company and in the field of management, his career as a politician and his involvement with Brunel University (BRWN 3). There is a substantial series of correspondence, both personal and on political subjects (BRWN 2), and a series of drafts and typescripts of some of his many books, articles and lectures on management techniques (BRWN 4). There are also two scrapbooks kept by Brown, which contain material relating to his career, some photographs, mostly of him in an official role, and a small quantity of more personal and ephemeral material (BRWN 1). Most of the papers date from the 1960s and 1970s, but there is also some earlier material, most notably in the first of his two scrapbooks (BRWN 1/6).
The collection was given to Churchill Archives Centre in 2003 by Lady Marjorie Brown, Rt Hon Richard Brown, Rt Hon Michael Brown and Rt Hon Angus Brown.
The collection originally included some printed or typescript material by others which had been collected by Wilfred Brown. Where this could not be directly related to his career, it was not judged worthy of permanent preservation with the collection, and this and duplicate copies in the archive have not been retained.
On their arrival at the archives, the papers of Wilfred Brown were found to be in considerable disarray, so that it was difficult to establish their original order. The majority of the material was in the form of loose papers, which appeared never to have been placed in any sort of filing system. Some appeared to fall into natural groupings, for example of papers relating to work done for a particular body or correspondence of a similar date, but for the most part they were without any signs of original order. There were also a number of original files, with or without titles. Of these, a small number proved to contain material relating to several major aspects of Wilfred Brown's career, without any discernible links within the file. In consideration of the general lack of order within the collection, which suggests that these items may not have been deliberately filed together, it has been considered to be more useful to the reader to split these files and place their contents with the loose papers to which they are related. However, all other files have been kept intact and the order within them has not been disturbed. Where they had a title, this has been preserved and is indicated by the use of quotation marks; all Wilfred Brown's original files are noted as such in their catalogue entry. After appraisal, the whole collection was sorted into four series: biographical and personal material, correspondence, work and publications. Loose material was sorted into files, and within the series files were arranged alphabetically and chronologically, where appropriate.