Sunday, 7 August 2011

Russell's illness

Mike Bishop the intrepid researcher on all things North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways/Welsh Highland Railway has found in the National Archives, Gowrie Aitchison's offer to the High Court, Chancery Division to become Receiver and General Manager of the NWNGR Company following Russell's death in 1912.
Paragraph 2 says he has been Secretary and Traffic Manager from March 1898 to September 1910, then only Secretary, "and during the illness and incapacity of the late Mr Russell which extended over 6 or 7 years I have done most of the work for him only troubling him when absolutely necessary."
So as has been suspected, Russell was ill as far back as the time when he was negotiating with North Wales Power & Traction Co. Ltd in 1906 over the electrification of the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway. See the background here

The literature on illness and its impact upon decision making is mostly focused on politicians rather than businessmen. David Owen wrote 'In Sickness and in Power' in 2008 ISBN 978-0413-776624 where he also touches on his more recent themes of how hubris gets in the way of rational thinking. An earlier book from 1993 is 'When Illness Strikes the Leader - the dilemma of the captive king' by Jerrold M Post and Robert S Robins ISBN 0-300-05683-4. This is some ways is a better and more rounded book than Owen's and he in fact makes no mention of it at all! Both books underline the role that illness has had on world events and how quite understandably wrong or misjudged decisions can be made whether you are physically and/or mentally ill.   

Gowrie Aitchison's Affadavit to the Court