The Guardian obituary describes him as the classic Mr Might-Have-Been Man. He might easily have become leader of the Labour party and, in 1964, prime minister instead of Harold Wilson. Instead, he had a remarkable and successful, not to say lucrative, career as an industrialist.
Robens took over Britain's coal industry in October 1960 for his Ten-Year Stint (the title of his own 1972 book).
When Robens became Chairman of the NCB's there were 698 pits employing 583,000 miners. Ten years later, when Robens left, there were 292 pits employing only 283,000.
The largest single blow to his reputation came from his reaction to the catastrophic 1966 industrial accident at Aberfan
He held a number of prominent positions and was a director of the Bank of England, on the board of Times Newspapers, the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Surrey and Chair of Governor's at Guys Hospital.
He retired to Laleham Abbey once the home of Lord Luchan
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