Henry Frederic Tiarks, 1900-1995

Henry the City manHenry Frederic Tiarks’ eponymous grandson was born in September 1900, at Woodheath, Kemnal Road, where he was to live on and off for the next thirty years and more. He was brough up at Woodheath until that house burned down in 1913, when he moved with his parents to Holbrook Lane, and then to Wilderness Road. After Eton he lived between London and Chislehurst in equal measure until he married, and after his second marriage, he lived for a while at the Summer House on the Homewood estate with his second wife.

He had been carefully groomed for a career at Schroders by his father. Despite being offered a place at Magdalen College Oxford, Henry took a course in accountancy and worked in The Hague for a year. He, together with Bruno Schroder’s son, who was admitted to partnership on the same day, spent time in Hamburg, Barcelona, New York and Latin America. Henry became a partner on 1st January 1926, and his father was able to introduce him on his first day to many leading City figures of the time.

He got on well with his father, and the two shared an intense love for polo, which they indulged at Foxbury, playing together on the Foxbury team. In her book, “A Chance to Live”, Henry’s daughter Henrietta, recalls her father. He “had a wonderful life as a young man. He used to play polo after the City every night. It took him twelve minutes by car from the City to Foxbury.” He was also an avid huntsman, spending time at Loxton, hunting with his uncle Herman, and later at Woodcote, where Peter, his younger brother also hunted regularly.

Henry’s first marriage, to Lady Millicent Taylour, was not a happy one, and it ended after their only son, Christopher, died of meningitis in his infancy. Henry then married Joan Barry, a famous actress, whose stage name was based on that of J.M.Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.

At the start of the war in 1939, Henry was called up to the Air Force, serving as a Wing Commander responsible for flying barrage balloons. In August 1943 he contracted tuberculosis, and was invalided out of the service. Henry returned to the Schroders partnership after the war, and acted as deputy senior partner until 1948, but he did not assume a full burden of executive responsibilities as his father and grandfather had done, and he pursued a wide range of interests in addition to merchant banking.

Henry the country man with his fatherAt the beginning of the 1950s he considered moving to New York to assume a senior position in the Wall Street banking firm in which the Tiarks family still had a substantial shareholding. But he remained in London and made a contribution through the cultivation of client relationships, especially with American Railway, Pressed Steel, Joseph Lucas and Securicor, of which he was a founder, and by representing Schroders at home and abroad. He was a director of the Bank of London and South America and was an active ambassador on its behalf. Moreover, at the request of the President of the Board of Trade, he acted as deputy leader of a number of Dollar Export Trade Mission delegations, which promoted British exports to North and South America.

Many new partners were admitted to the Schroders’ partnership after the war, but their status was affected by the unresolved financial issue of the Tiarks, following the effects of the Standstill Agreement and losses in the 1930s. To resolve the issue, Henry finally agreed a settlement in respect of his father’s and his own interest in the goodwill of the old partnership. He withdrew from that partnership, and became a partner in the new firm. This enabled the financial reorganisation of the firm, and eventual conversion to a limited company, which continues today. Henry continued to play a part in the business in the UK and around the world until his retirement in 1965 when he became a non-executive director.

He later moved to Marbella in Spain. There he was able to spend time on his great love of astronomy, and had telescopes installed in his house. He was the longest living member of the Royal Astronomical Society, having been admitted in 1916. He had been introduced to the Astronomer Royal by his grandmother Agnes, and having seen Halley’s Comet as an 11-year old boy he was absolutely determined to see it on its next return, and did so in 1986. Henry died in July 1995.

Henry retained an affection for Chislehurst all his life, and on a visit here shortly before he died he contributed £1,000 to the Chislehurst Society.