Hugh Beaver

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Sir Hugh Beaver
Born Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver
4 May 1890
Johannesburg, South Africa
Died 16 January 1967 (aged 76)
London, England, UK
Cause of death Heart Failure
Residence London, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Wellington College, Berkshire
Occupation Engineer, industrialist
Years active 1931–1960
Home town London, England
Board member of The Guinness Book of World Records,
Guinness Brewery

Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver, KBE, (4 May 1890 – 16 January 1967)[1] was a British engineer, industrialist, and founder of the Guinness Book of Records.


Educated at Wellington College, Berkshire after which he spent two years in the Indian Police force from 1910. In 1921 he returned to England, before joining Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners, Engineers.[2] In 1931 the firm was commissioned by the Canadian government to conduct a survey of its national ports. Beaver spent seven months in Canada, during which time he was asked to supervise the rebuilding of the Port of St John, New Brunswick, which had been destroyed by fire. He was a partner of the firm from 1932–1942, and director general and controller general of the Ministry of Works from 1940–1945.

In 1946, he became a managing director of Arthur Guinness, Son and Co Ltd and stayed there until he retired in 1960.

Beaver was greatly involved in the efforts to rebuild Britain and the British Empire after World War II, and was a co-opted member of Lord Reith's Committee on New Towns 1946–1947, a member of the Building Industry Working Party 1948–1950, director of the Colonial Development Corporation 1951–1960.

Beaver was chairman of the Committee on Power Station Construction 1952–1953, where he advised on the Great Smog of 1952 in London.[3] As a result of his advice on smog, Beaver was made chairman of the Committee on Air Pollution 1953–1954, which resulted in the Clean Air Act 1956.

Beaver was also interested in the promotion and application of science, and as a result was chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific and Industrial Research 1954–1956, and chairman of the Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Scientific Education in Schools 1958–1963. With Sir Alan Wilson, he was a key sponsor of the creation of St Catherine's College, Oxford by Alan Bullock.[4]


He was knighted in 1943 and awarded a KBE in 1956. He also received honorary degrees from the University of Cambridge, Trinity College, Dublin, the National University of Ireland, and was made an honorary fellow of the London School of Economics in 1960. He died in 1967.[5]

He also served as President of the Royal Statistical Society from 1959 to 1960.[6]

Guinness Book of Records

On 10 November 1951, Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, went on a shooting party in North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford, Ireland. He became involved in an argument: Which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the grouse? That evening at Castlebridge house it was realised that it was not possible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe's fastest game bird.[7][8]

Beaver thought that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in the 81,400 pubs in Britain and in Ireland, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He realised then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular. He happened to be correct.[9]

Beaver's idea became reality when Guinness employee Christopher Chataway recommended university friends Norris and Ross McWhirter, who had been running a fact-finding agency in London. The brothers were commissioned to compile what became the Guinness Book of Records in August 1954. A thousand copies were printed and given away.[10]

After founding the Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, the first 198-page edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and went to the top of the British best seller lists by Christmas. "It was a marketing give away – it wasn't supposed to be a money maker" said Beaver. The following year it launched in the US, and sold 70,000 copies. Since then, Guinness World Records has become a household name and the global leader in world records. The book has gone on to become a record breaker in its own right, with sales of more than 100 million copies in 100 different countries and 37 languages, Guinness World Records is the world's best selling copyrighted book ever.[11]


Beaver died in 1967 from heart failure in his London home.


  1. Institute of Civil Engineers
  3. air_quality/docs/50_years_on.rtf
  4. College History
  5. AIM25: British Library of Political and Economic Science: BEAVER, Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell 1890–1967 Knight engineer and industrialist
  6. "Royal Statistical Society Presidents". Royal Statistical Society. Retrieved 6 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Richard Cavendish (August 2005). "Publication of the Guinness Book of Records: August 27th, 1955". History Today. 55.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. | Guinness World Records brand | brands | brand | branding news
  10. Guinness Book History 1950–Present
  11. Guinness World Records Today

External links