The Times of January 24th 1958


Mr.G.L.Wates, who died on Wednesday at the age of 73, was well known in the electrical engineering and building society worlds.


George Leslie Wates was born on July 12 1884, the son of G.F.Wates, author and theologian. He spent his early life in Lewisham and was educated at Aske's Grammar School. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1905 at the early age of 21, having obtained first-class honours and been awarded the New Inn Prize. He practised as a partner in the firm of Whale and Wates of Woolwich, which in 1920 became incorporated in the firm of J.D.Langton & Passmore of London.


As a young solicitor he became the close friend and associate of the late Walter Claude Johnson, founder of Johnson & Phillips Ltd, electrical engineers. He was elected to the board of that firm in 1927 and was chairman from 1931 until 1957 when he resigned because of ill health. In 1946 and 1947 he was chairman of the Cable Makers Association and in 1950 and 1951 he was chairman of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers Association. During this time he was chiefly responsible for raising the capital sum to endow the Chair of Electrical Engineering at Cambridge University.


The Wates family had its roots in Woolwich, were among the founders in 1847 of the Woolwich Equitable Building Society, and have been closely associated with it ever since. He himself joined the board in 1932 and was elected chairman in 1949, resigning in 1957. Among his many other associations with Woolwich were his governorship of the Woolwich Cottage Hospital and the Woolwich War Memorial Hospital from 1908 to 1948. He was also a governor of the Woolwich Polytechnic from 1939 to 1956 during which time he was chairman from 1944 to 1947 and subsequently president of the Union of Clubs and Societies.


He was an underwriting member of Lloyd’s and a director of many companies. In 1910 he married Lucy Winifred Ainsworth and had two sons and two daughters, all of whom survive him.


Throughout his life Wates was conspicuous among his colleagues and associates for his integrity, courage and clear thinking. He well earned what was once called "his gilt edged reputation” in all his dealings, both business and personal; and his pleasant natural affection for his fellow men brought him friends wherever he went.