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Who Was Alice Fenton?
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Alice-and-Sir-William-Lyons-1955

 

Our resident JCCV quiz whiz, Brent Gazzaniga, brought the name of Alice Fenton to the committee’s attention as someone who was very important to Jaguar and to its founder, Sir William Lyons.

 

According to the official biography of Sir William Lyons, authors Philip Porter and Paul Skilleter described Alice Fenton as someone who for 35 years “single-mindedly devoted herself to Jaguar and Sir William. Alice began work in the Swallow Sidecar office as a young teenager having previously worked for Sir William’s father in his piano shop. Within a very short time, her capacity for work so impressed the younger Lyons that she quickly became his personal assistant and sales assistant.

 

Before she died suddenly of cerebral haemorrhage in 1960 at the early age of 50 years, Alice had risen to the position of Home Sales Director. During her time with the company, Alice was the only female Jaguar executive and the highest-placed woman in the British motor industry.

At a press conference following Miss Fenton’s death Sir William stated that “her loyalty and enthusiasm for the company’s progress were invaluable,” and that he had lost ”a colleague and a friend.”

 

Sir William’s daughter Pat describes Alice as “an absolute tower of strength…who was so efficient and remembers thinking when young that if anything in the world was wrong all one had to do was get Alice Fenton and it would be put right overnight”.

 

 

On the site of the old Browns Lane factory there is a road named in her honour, “Fenton Road”

It is important to note that Alice achieved her standing in Jaguar on her “sheer ability”. She was able to break the glass ceiling long before it has become such an issue today.

 

On Brent’s suggestion the JCCV will have a plaque made for the clubrooms to commemorate the significant role Alice Fenton gave to Jaguar.