Richard Marsh, Baron Marsh

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

The Lord Marsh
Marsh in 1965
Minister of Transport
In office
6 April 1968 – 6 October 1969
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byBarbara Castle
Succeeded byFred Mulley
Member of Parliament
for Greenwich
In office
8 October 1959 – 7 July 1971
Preceded byJoseph Reeves
Succeeded byGuy Barnett
Personal details
Richard William Marsh

(1928-03-14)14 March 1928
London, England
Died29 July 2011(2011-07-29) (aged 83)
London, England
Political partyCrossbencher
Other political
Labour (before 1978)
Alma materRuskin College

Background and early lifeEdit

Marsh was 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 careerEdit

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 PowerEdit

He served in the second Wilson Government as the Minister of Power (1966–68). On 22 April 1966 as Minister of Power he officially opened the new Hinkley Point A nuclear power station.[7][8] He piloted the legislation for the nationalisation of the steel industry.[6]

Minister of TransportEdit

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.[9] 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".[9]

Chairman of British RailEdit

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 to 1982 and of Allied Investments Ltd from 1977 to 1981. He was also a member of a number of quangoes, held directorships in several private companies and was chairman of TV-am from 1983 to 1984.[4]

Joins ConservativesEdit

In 1978 he announced that he had become a supporter of Margaret Thatcher, who had been his shadow counterpart when he was Minister of Transport, and intended to vote Conservative at the forthcoming general election, held in 1979.[3] He was one of a group of ex-Labour politicians who defected to support the Conservatives in the 1979 election.[10]


Thatcher won the election, and she created him a life peer as Baron Marsh, of Mannington in the County of Wiltshire on 15 July 1981.[11][4][3] He then sat in the House of Lords as a Crossbench peer.[4][3]


In 1950 Marsh married Evelyn Mary Andrews, with whom he had two sons. In 1973 they divorced.

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]

Coat of arms of Richard Marsh, Baron Marsh
Upon a mount Vert a bear sejant upon its haunches and erect Or holding between its forepaws a mitra peciosa Gold panelled Vert garnished and lined Gules the infulae Vert and fringed at their ends Gold.
Argent four pallets wavy Azure on a chevron over all Gules a leopard's face between two keys wards upwards and outwards Or on a chief Gules a double warded key wards upwards between two leopard's faces Gold.
On either side a Japanese crane (Grus japonensis) Proper the interior wing and leg of each supporting the shield the whole upon a compartment composed of water barry wavy of four Azure and Argent between two banks of marshy ground Proper sprouting therefrom plants of marsh buckler fern marsh mallow and bulrush all slipped and leaved Proper.
Non Est Vivere Sed Valere Vita [12]


  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. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  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. ^ "The Electrical Review". Electrical Review. 178 (9–17): 638. 1966.
  8. ^ "Nuclear Technology Society in the German Atomic Forum". Handelsblatt GMBH. 11: 50, 225. 1966.
  9. ^ a b "News and views: Richard marsh - Minister of Transport". Autocar. 128 (nbr 3766): 30. 18 April 1968.
  10. ^ Russell, William (30 April 1979). "Ex-Labour MP defects to Tories". The Glasgow Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  11. ^ "No. 48682". The London Gazette. 20 July 1981. p. 9547.
  12. ^ Debrett's Peerage. 2000.
  • Richard Marsh. "Off the Rails: An Autobiography". Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1978. ISBN 0-297-77387-9.

External linksEdit

{{succession box
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Greenwich
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Power
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
Business positions
Preceded by Chairman of the
British Railways Board

Succeeded by