Harold Keates Hales (22 April 1868 – 7 November 1942) was a British shipping magnate, politician and founder of the Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband award for the ship with the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing. Known for his eccentricity, he was the inspiration for the title character of
Arnold Bennett's The
Card. He was the sole proprietor of Hales Brothers, an export and import shipping line.
Hales worked in the pottery and china business in the Stoke-on-Trent area, founding "Hales Brothers", an export and import shipping line, of which he was the sole proprietor.
He first owned a car in 1897, and later bragged that he had never blown his horn, and tried to make it illegal for anyone else to blow theirs. In 1904, he drove the first non-stop car from London to Edinburgh. He flew an airship around St. Paul's Cathedral in 1908. In 1910, he was one of the first people to survive an airplane crash.
After serving in Turkey during World War I, he travelled the world promoting British industry.
He was Conservative MP for Hanley from 1931–1935. He enlivened a House of Commons debate on the herring industry by gesturing with a dead herring as he argued.
In 1935, he inaugurated the Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband award for the ship with the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing. It was commissioned in 1933 and designed by Charles Holliday, designer for the firm of James Dixon and Sons, silversmiths of Cornish Place Sheffield, working to very specific instructions supplied by Hales.
Ironically, he drowned in the River Thames at the age of 74, the result of a boating accident.
Bennett, an author and playwright, wrote a novel in 1911 based on
Harold Hales called: The Card. The Card was made into a film
in 1952, starring Alec Guinness.
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