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William Julius Lowthian  Plowden

William Julius Lowthian Plowden

Male 1935 - 2010  (75 years)


  • Name William Julius Lowthian Plowden  [1, 2
    Birth 07 Feb 1935  Chelsea Find all individuals with events at this location   [1, 2
    Education abt 1948 - 1953  Eton College Find all individuals with events at this location   [2
    Education abt 1953 - 1958  King's College, Cambridge Find all individuals with events at this location   [2
    Degree/Qualif. abt 1956  Cambridge University Find all individuals with events at this location ; BA  [2
    Education abt 1958 - 1959  University of California, Berkeley, CA Find all individuals with events at this location   [2
    Degree/Qualif. abt 1959  Cambridge University Find all individuals with events at this location ; PhD  [2
    Occupation 1959 - 1960  Staff writer, The Economist  [2
    Occupation 1960 - 1965  Civil Servant, Board of Trade  [2
    Occupation 1965 - 1971  London School of Economics Find all individuals with events at this location ; Lecturer in Government  [2
    Occupation 1971 - 1977  Adviser, Central Policy Review Staff  [2
    William Plowden (1935-2010)
    William Plowden (1935-2010)
    Inside the Think Tank: co-author with Tessa Blackstone
    Occupation 1977 - 1978  Under-Secretary, Department of Trade & Industry  [2
    Occupation 1978 - 1988  Director-General, Royal Institute of Public Administration  [2
    Occupation 1988 - 1998  Director, Harkness Fellowships  [2
    Residence - 2010  49 Stockwell Park Road, Lambeth Find all individuals with events at this location   [2
    Death 26 Jun 2010  Gloucestershire Find all individuals with events at this location ; Cause: Stroke  [2, 3
    • Plowden, William Julius Lowthian, aged 75, died on 26th June 2010, suddenly but peacefully, surrounded by family. [The Times]
    Notes 
    • Plowden, William Julius Lowthian. Born 7 Feb. 1935; s of Lord Plowden, GBE, KCB, and Lady Plowden, DBE; m 1960, Veronica Gascoigne; two s two d ; died 26 June 2010.
      Education: Eton; King's Coll., Cambridge (BA, PhD); Univ. of Calif, Berkeley (Commonwealth Fund Fellow). Career: Staff Writer, Economist, 1959-60; BoT, 1960-65; Lectr in Govt, LSE, 1965-71; Central Policy Review Staff, Cabinet Office, 1971-77; Under Sec., Dept of Industry, 1977-78; Dir-Gen., RIPA, 1978-88; Exec. Dir, UK Harkness Fellowships, NY, 1988-91; Sen. Advr, Harkness Fellowships, London, 1991-98; UK Dir, Atlantic Fellowships, 1995-98. Hon. Prof., Dept of Politics, Univ. of Warwick, 1977-82; Vis. Prof. in Govt, LSE, 1982-88, 2002- ; Vis. Prof., Univ. of Bath, 1992-95; Sen. Res. Associate, IPPR, 1992-94; Vis. Sen. Res. Fellow, London Business Sch., 1993-94; Vis. Res. Fellow, Constitution Unit, UCL, 1999-2002. Member: W Lambeth DHA, 1982-87; QCA, 1999-2002. Trustee: CSV, 1984-2004; Southern Africa Advanced Educn Project, 1986-95; Public Mgt Foundn, 1992-98. Mem. Ct of Govs, LSE, 1987-2006, Council, 2000-03. Publications: The Motor Car and Politics in Britain, 1971; (with Tessa Blackstone) Inside the Think Tank: advising the Cabinet 1971-1983, 1988; Mandarins and Ministers, 1994; (with Kate Jenkins) Governance and Nation-Building: the failure of international intervention, 2006. Address: 49 Stockwell Park Road, Lambeth. [Who's Who]
    • Obituary: William Plowden. Government advisor who 40 years ago predicted the decline of the high street.
      During his dual career as a civil servant and academic, William Plowden sought to enrich the lives of the general public by identifying ways in which Whitehall - and other government administrations - could best serve its people.
      William Julius Lowthian Plowden was educated at Eton College and Kings College, Cambridge. His undergraduate degree was followed by a PhD before he crossed the Atlantic to spend time at Berkeley as a Harkness fellow.
      As the eldest son of Lord Edwin and Lady Bridget Plowden, both public servants, Plowden was indoctrinated in to public administration from an early age, exposed to the orthodox beliefs and conventional views of the establishment. It was his time away from Great Britain, however, that enabled him to take a more objective stance on the role of government.
      The social and cultural development of the USA was taking place much faster than in his home nation. An entirely different demographic and topography, strip malls and out-of-town shopping marquees were becoming more prevalent there and Plowden was to bear witness to the death of the traditional shopping centres. He later wrote about his prediction of the fall of the high street in The Motor Car and Politics, published in 1971. Despite being nearly 40 years old, this was described at a recent conference as still being a radical text.
      Plowden returned to London in 1958 to become a staff writer at the Economist. A year later he successfully completed the civil service exam and joined the Board of Trade.
      Following marriage to Veronica in 1960 and a five-year stint within government he re-entered academia as a lecturer in government at London School of Economics (LSE) in 1965. He remained affiliated with LSE for the next 45 years, returning in stages as a visiting professor in 1982 for six years and again in 2002 until his death.
      In 1971 he moved from LSE back in to government as part of then prime minister's newly-formed Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS), inevitably dubbed the "Think Tank". The role of the CPRS was to advise the cabinet on strategy. In this role he proved to be an instrumental force, with his primary objective being the interaction between government departments.
      Plowden was well aware that each government department considered itself an island, working towards its own policies and objectives, irrespective of the external impacts. His primary concern was the effect policy had on the public, and how best to co-ordinate policy to ensure that conflict was kept to a minimum. In his own words, Plowden felt that "ministers need to ensure that their priorities are adequately reflected in policies which are actually being carried out and that, in practice, these policies are having the effects intended".
      In 1975 the CPRS published A Joint Framework for Social Policies, and while some sectors of government viewed the ideas presented favourably, the Treasury was less than enthusiastic. Margaret Thatcher had the CPRS abolished in 1983, which promoted the publication Inside the Think Tank, written by Plowden and his colleague, Tessa Blackstone. The first draft was blocked by the government, due to the information and views divulged, and such was the furore over the content that a change in publishers was required in order to get the version the authors wanted in to the public realm.
      For a decade from 1978 Plowden was also the director of the Royal Institute of Public Administration before becoming the director of the UK Harkness fellowships in New York, a role he held until 1991. His association with the Harkness fellowships continued, when he became the senior adviser in London from 1991 to 1998. During this time he was involved in a "radical revision of the programme" enabling a variety of research studies in the USA.
      A natural progression from this position was secretary to the Harkness Fellows Association, where his extensive knowledge and list of contacts contributed to the success of various events.
      LSE provided a suitable research and writing environment and his views and opinions were in demand. His ability to provide succinct and workable ideas in to how governments can co-ordinate decision and policy making was utilised by many countries, from Russia to Mozambique. During this time he identified an inequity between the vision of aid organisations and what was actually practicable.
      Plowden remained academically active well in to his 70s. He also held a number of research professorships, including honorary professor of politics at Warwick University.
      He was a world traveller but had two stable bases, in London and Gloucestershire. His love of the countryside was highlighted by his purchase of a wood in 2003 and his interest in transport issues meant he often cycled around London. He had many hobbies, including painting, and was particularly passionate about steam trains.
      William Plowden died of a stroke. He is survived by his wife Veronica and their four children. [The Scotsman, 28 Jul 2010]
    Person ID I2840  Tatham | Richmond branch | Descendant
    Last Modified 14 Feb 2012 

    Father Edwin Noel Auguste Plowden,   b. 06 Jan 1907, Mansion House, Strachur, Argyll Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Feb 2001, Martels Manor, Dunmow Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years) 
    Mother Bridget Horatia Richmond,   b. 05 May 1910, Rounton Grange, East Rounton Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Sep 2000, Martels Manor, Dunmow Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 90 years) 
    Marriage 20 Jun 1933    [4
    Family ID F0746  Family Group Sheet

    Family Living 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
    +4. Living
    Last Modified 12 Feb 2012 
    Family ID F0748  Family Group Sheet

  • Event Map Click to display
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 07 Feb 1935 - Chelsea Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEducation - abt 1948 - 1953 - Eton College Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEducation - abt 1953 - 1958 - King's College, Cambridge Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDegree/Qualif. - BA - abt 1956 - Cambridge University Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEducation - abt 1958 - 1959 - University of California, Berkeley, CA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDegree/Qualif. - PhD - abt 1959 - Cambridge University Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Lecturer in Government - 1965 - 1971 - London School of Economics Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - 2010 - 49 Stockwell Park Road, Lambeth Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDeath - Cause: Stroke - 26 Jun 2010 - Gloucestershire Link to Google Earth
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  • Photos
    William Julius Lowthian Plowden (1935-2010)
    William Julius Lowthian Plowden (1935-2010)

  • Sources 
    1. [S02] BMD Index, birth reg Chelsea, 1Q1935.

    2. [S18] Who's Who / Who was Who.

    3. [S05] The Times, death notice, 30 Jun 2010.

    4. [S21] Dictionary of National Biography.