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Robert Adley

For the Louisiana politician, see Robert Adley (Louisiana politician).

Robert James Adley (2 March 1935 – 13 May 1993) was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom and railway enthusiast.

In the 1970s Adley was part-time Marketing Director for Holiday Inn (UK). He would brief his agency (Alexander James & Dexter) in the morning, before going to the House of Commons. Adley was born Jewish but converted to Anglicanism,[1] and was married with two children.[2]

Early life and family

Robert James Adamson was born on 2 March 1935, the son of Harry Adley, a company director. He was educated at Falconbury and Uppingham School, before becoming the Director of Sales at May fair Hotel (1960–64). In 1961, he married Jane Elizabeth Pople, daughter of Wilfred Pople of Somerset. Later, he was the Marketing Director at Holiday Inns of Canada.[3]

Political career

He was a councillor on Slough Borough Council from 1965 and first stood for Parliament in 1966 for Birkenhead, failing to win the strongly Labour seat. He became member of Parliament for Bristol North East after winning the seat by 462 votes in the 1970 election. Bristol North East was abolished before the next election in 1974 and Adley went on to become member of parliament for Christchurch and Lymington. He would safely hold this seat from 1974 to 1983, and then after further boundary changes the Christchurch seat from 1983 until his death with one of the largest Conservative majorities in the country.[2]

Adley was well known as a railway enthusiast,[4] after gaining a love of trains when he was given The Wonder Book of Trains at the age of three. Adley became leader of the Conservative backbench committee on transport and then the Chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee.[2] He became a leading opponent of the plans being made by John Major's government for the privatisation of British Rail, describing it a "poll tax on wheels".[5] Adley had previously opposed the poll tax and bus deregulation, while supporting Concorde and an integrated transport system. Adley also called for talks with the African National Congress and for the UK government to support the aspirations of the black majority in apartheid-era South Africa.[2]

Adley died in the Royal Brompton Hospital[6] following a heart attack in 1993 at the age of 58.[2] After his death the seat was won in a by-election by Liberal Democrat Diana Maddock, but was regained by the Conservatives in 1997.[7]


Adley was the author of numerous books mainly on the subject of railways and in particular steam engines.[8]



  1. ^ White, Michael (1993-05-14). "Major faces new poll test in heartlands MP's death leaves seat vulnerable after Newbury loss". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Robert Adley; Obituary". The Times. 1993-05-14. 
  3. ^ Stenton and Lees Who's Who of British Members of Parliament vol. iv p. 2
  4. ^ "Rifkind Tries to Build a Model Railway". The Economist. 1991-03-30. p. 51. 
  5. ^ "After Railtrack, what next for PPP?". BBC Online. 2001-10-14. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  6. ^ "Robert Adley, Member of Parliament, 58". The New York Times. 15 May 1993. 
  7. ^ Smithers, Rebecca (1997-05-03). "Election Special: The LibDem Triumph: 'Constructive' Ashdown doubles seats". The Guardian. p. 3. 
  8. ^ Aitken, Ian (1993-05-14). "Robert the tank engine Obituary: Robert Adley MP". The Guardian. 


  • Stenton, M., Lees, S. (1981). Who's Who of British Members of Parliament, volume iv (covering 1945–1979). Sussex: The Harvester Press; New Jersey: Humanities Press. ISBN 0-391-01087-5

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Raymond Dobson
Member of Parliament for Bristol North East
1970Feb 1974
Succeeded by
Arthur Palmer
New constituency Member of Parliament for Christchurch and Lymington
Feb 19741983
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Christchurch
Succeeded by
Diana Maddock

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