Wavell Wakefield, 1st Baron Wakefield of Kendal

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The Lord Wakefield of Kendal
Birth nameWilliam Wavell Wakefield
Date of birth(1898-03-10)10 March 1898
Place of birth Beckenham, Kent, England, UK
Date of death12 August 1983(1983-08-12) (aged 85)
Place of death Kendal, Lake District
School Sedbergh School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Senior career



National team(s)
1920–1927 England 31 Tries-(6)

William Wavell Wakefield, 1st Baron Wakefield of Kendal (10 March 1898 – 12 August 1983), known as Sir Wavell Wakefield between 1944 and 1963, was an English rugby union player for Harlequins, Leicester Tigers and England, President of the Rugby Football Union and Conservative politician.

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.

Leicester Tigers English rugby union club

Leicester Tigers is an English professional rugby union club based in Leicester, England. They play in Premiership Rugby, England's top division of rugby.

England national rugby union team sportsteam in rugby union

The England national rugby union team competes in the annual Six Nations Championship with France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Wales. They have won this championship on a total of 28 occasions, 13 times winning the Grand Slam and 25 times winning the Triple Crown, making them the most successful outright winners in the tournament's history. They are ranked fourth in the world by the International Rugby Board as of 18 March 2019. England are to date the only team from the northern hemisphere to win the Rugby World Cup, when they won the tournament back in 2003. They were also runners-up in 1991 and 2007.


Background and education

Wakefield was born in Beckenham, Kent, the son of Roger William Wakefield. He was the brother of Sir Edward Wakefield, 1st Baronet, also a Conservative politician. His youngest brother, Roger Cuthbert Wakefield, was an early British & Irish Lion, touring on the 1927 British Lions tour to Argentina. He attended Sedbergh School in the West Riding of Yorkshire, leaving during the First World War to join the Royal Naval Air Service at the Admiralty testing station at Hill of Oaks on Windermere.[ citation needed ]

Beckenham area in the London Borough of Bromley

Beckenham is a post town and district of London in the London Borough of Bromley, England. It borders Beckenham Place Park and Bellingham in the London Borough of Lewisham and is centred 8.4 miles (13.5 km) south east of Charing Cross. Historically part of Kent, Beckenham was, until the coming of the railway in 1857, a small village, with most of its land being rural and private parkland. John Cator and his family began the building of villas which led to a rapid increase in population, between 1850 and 1900, from 2,000 to 26,000. Housing and population growth has continued at a lesser pace since 1900.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

Roger Cuthbert Wakefield CMG, OBE, FRICS was a prominent English surveyor, former director of the British Sudan Survey department, and an early twentieth century rugby union international who is known as one of the "lost lions" due to his participation on the 1927 British Lions tour to Argentina which, although retrospectively recognised as a Lions tour, did not confer test status on any of the four encounters with the Argentina national rugby union team.

Rugby career

After the war Wakefield became the captain of the RAF rugby team and joined Harlequins. On 11 October 1919, he made his debut for Harlequins against Richmond and he continued to play for the club for the next ten years. He occasionally played for other teams during this time, but Harlequins was always his main club. During his career with Harlequins, he appeared a total of 136 times, including 82 as captain, and he made his final appearance on 25 January 1930 against Cambridge University. He scored 51 tries for the club, along with one penalty and 14 conversions. He was club captain in the seasons 1920/21, 1924/25 and 1927/28 to 1929/30. Wakefield played for Leicester Tigers between 1921 and 1924 playing 29 games and scoring 10 tries. He was captain in all but one game he played for the club. [1]

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Richmond F.C. rugby union club from Richmond, London, England

Richmond Football Club is a rugby union club from Richmond, London. It is a founding member of the Rugby Football Union, and is one of the oldest football clubs. It fields teams in both men's and women's rugby; the men's first team currently play in National League 1 following their relegation from the RFU Championship at the end of the 2018-19 season, while the women's first team play in the women's Premiership.

In 1920, Wakefield made his England debut against Wales. He captained the Cambridge University team in 1922. In total, he appeared for England 31 times and was captain on 13 occasions. He led England to back-to-back Grand Slams. His final appearance for England was against France in April 1927. Through his career, Wakefield's influence on the game was pronounced. As an excellent all-round athlete he helped revolutionise the role of the back row forward. Prior to Wakefield their role was mainly static—pushing in the set scrum and winning the ball in loose scrums (or rucks, as they later became). Wakefield's athleticism enabled him to play a more dynamic role: pressuring the opposition half backs in defence and supporting the attacks of the three quarters, and these remain the prime responsibilities of the modern open side flank forward. Rugby historian Barry Bowker described Wakefield thus; "A complete footballer, he had all the attributes – strength, weight and speed – of a great forward. He was a master of the art of dribbling with pace, was up with his backs to share in an attack and took and gave passes well". [2]

In rugby union, a Grand Slam occurs when one team in the Six Nations Championship manages to beat all the others during one year's competition. This has been achieved 39 times in total, for the first time by Wales in 1908, and most recently by Wales in 2019. The team to have won the most Grand Slams is England with 13.

He remained involved in rugby and was the RFU president in 1950. From 1950 to 1980 he was president of Harlequins. An all-round sportsman, Wakefield also became the president of the Ski Club of Great Britain, the British Sub-Aqua Club and the British Water Ski Federation. In 1999 Wakefield was inducted as the first English member of the International Rugby Hall of Fame. [3]

The Ski Club of Great Britain is a recreational snow sports club, which operates on a not-for-profit basis. It was founded on 6 May 1903 during a meeting at the Café Royal in London. Until the 1960s the Ski Club of Great Britain was responsible for British alpine racing teams.

British Sub-Aqua Club Recreational diving club, training and certification agency based in the UK

The British Sub-Aqua Club or BSAC has been recognised since 1954 by the Sports Council as the national governing body of recreational diving in the United Kingdom.

The International Rugby Hall of Fame (IRHOF) was a hall of fame for rugby union. It was created in 1997 in New Zealand and is run as a charitable trust with an address at Chiswick in London. Most of the trustees are also inductees. IRHOF accepted new inductees every two years until 2007. Most inductees are former players, but others who have contributed to the game are eligible. In 2014 it was integrated into the then–IRB Hall of Fame, which then was renamed the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

Business and political career

In 1931, Wakefield joined the Rediffusion radio company. [4] In 1935, he moved into politics, becoming Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Swindon. At the 1945 general election, he moved to St Marylebone. He was knighted in 1944 and in 1963, upon retiring from Parliament, was raised to the peerage as Baron Wakefield of Kendal, of Kendal in the County of Westmorland. [5] For many years he was an active member of the Conservative Monday Club. [6]

Rediffusion was a business that distributed radio and TV signals through wired relay networks. The business gave rise to a number of other companies, including Associated-Rediffusion, later known as Rediffusion London, one of the first companies to win a terrestrial ITV franchise in the UK. Rediffusion also spawned a record label, Rediffusion International Music, in 1968. Redifon was the name used until 1981 for companies in the capital goods businesses of Rediffusion, viz. Redifon Computers, Redifon Flight Simulation and Redifon Telecommunications.

Conservative Party (UK) Political party in the United Kingdom

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, sometimes informally called the Tories, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, and also has 249 members of the House of Lords, 4 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 11 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors.

Swindon was a parliamentary constituency in the town of Swindon in Wiltshire, England.

Apart from his sporting and political careers Wakefield was instrumental in the preservation of the Ullswater 'Steamers' and the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, through his Lake District Estates company. In 1954, Wakefield bought a controlling shareholding in Ullswater 'Steamers', saving the company from bankruptcy. In 1960, along with Midlands stockbroker Colin Gilbert, he purchased the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway from the Keswick Granite Company in order to prevent its closure. After Colin Gilbert's death in 1968, he became the sole owner. Upon Wakefield's death, his daughter, the Hon. Joan Raynsford OBE, took over as the head director of the railway company. His other two daughters, Sheila Hensman OBE and Ruth Adorian OBE, also became active directors. [7] [8]

Personal life

Lord Wakefield of Kendal died in August 1983, aged 85, when the barony became extinct.[ citation needed ]

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  1. Farmer, Stuart; Hands, David. Tigers - Official history of Leicester Football Club. The Rugby DevelopmentFoundation. p. 453. ISBN   978-0-9930213-0-5.
  2. Bowker, Barry (1978). England Rugby. London: Cassell. p. 60. ISBN   0-304-30214-7.
  3. "Wavell Wakefield". International Rugby Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  4. "1928 – 1978: The first 50 Years of Rediffusion". Rediffusion Ltd. 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  5. "No. 43162". The London Gazette . 19 November 1963. p. 9433.
  6. Copping, Robert (1975). The Monday Club – Crisis and After. Ilford: Current Affairs Information Service. p. 25.
  7. "History of the Railway". Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  8. "History of Ullswater 'Steamers'". Ullswater 'Steamers'. Archived from the original on 10 July 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Christopher Addison
Member of Parliament for Swindon
Succeeded by
Thomas Reid
Preceded by
Alec Cunningham-Reid
Member of Parliament for St Marylebone
Succeeded by
Quintin Hogg
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dave Davies
English National Rugby Union Captain
Succeeded by
Leonard Corbett