OBITUARY : Sir Maxwell Harper Gow

Maxwell Harper Gow made an outstanding contribution over 40 years to the Scottish and UK business scenes, notably through the family firm of Christian Salvesen, of which his Norwegian great-grandfather had been the founder. The company's dominant activity had been whaling. Harper Gow showed great flair in taking it into new and diverse businesses. The first of these was fishing, in which he directed Salvesen's efforts in pioneering the processing and freezing of fish at sea, a system that was extensively copied world-wide.

The involvement with frozen fish led to the development first of cold storage, in which the company became a world leader, and subsequently the very significant food distribution business which is still a major part of Salvesen's activities.

Further diversification into oilwell drilling, oilfield services and house-building gave the company a much broader base, on which its growth and profitability was built in the 1960s and 1970s. Harper Gow became chairman in 1964 and retired from active management in 1981, continuing as non-executive vice-chairman until 1987. He made an outstanding leader; he was fair-minded and generated enormous loyalty from all who worked with him.

Leonard Maxwell Harper Gow (LHMG to all at Salvesen's) was born in 1918 and educated at Rugby and Corpus Christi, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1939, before being commissioned into the Commandos. He had a fine war career, taking part in the Normandy landings under the command of Lord Lovat. He joined Salvesen's after the cessation of hostilities and, in keeping with company tradition, learnt the business at the "sharp end", spending some three seasons on the whaling grounds in the Antarctic.

Although dedicated to the company, Harper Gow developed a wide range of other business involvements. He was a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland for some 22 years and of the Scottish Widows' Fund and Life Assurance Society for a similar period. He strongly encouraged the early development of independent radio in Scotland through his chairmanship of Radio Forth. He also played a role in the broader business scene through support for the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and the Institute of Directors.

Salvesen's connection with Norway and his own antecedents led to his being appointed Consul for Norway in 1949, a position he held for 40 years.

Harper Gow was an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and encouraged Salvesen's to develop sponsorships. He was particularly keen on the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was founder and benefactor of the Queen's Hall, the orchestra's "home".

His other interests extended to active membership of the Queen's Body Guard for Scotland, enthusiastic involvement in the Consular Corps and as founder of the Scottish Chapter of the Society of Knights Bachelor. He also took a keen interest in farming, horse racing and fishing. The home that he and his wife Lillan made in East Lothian was a happy place at which their many friends seemed ever welcome.

Barry E. Sealey

Leonard Maxwell Harper Gow, businessman: born 13 June 1918; MBE 1944; chairman, Christian Salvesen 1964-81, vice-chairman 1981-87; chairman, Scottish Widows' Fund and Life Assurance Society 1972-75; chairman, Radio Forth 1977-87; Kt 1985; chairman DFM Holdings 1985-89; married 1944 Lillan Kiaer (two sons, one daughter); died 1 January 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project