WAKEFIELD, Charles Cheers [1859 - 1941]

Charles Cheers Wakefield was born  on 12th December 1859, the son of customs official John and his wife Mary. After attending the Liverpool Institute he joined an oil broking firm, beginning a life in the oil industry which by the time of his death would see him immensely wealthy and bestowed with a myriad of honours.

At the time of his birth the Wakefield family home was at 42 Johnson Street L3, later moving to 16 Wavertree Vale L15, both of which have since been demolished. After his marriage in 1888 to Sarah Graham they set up home at 51 Russian Drive L13.
He moved to London in the 1890s to work for an American petroleum company, his duties enabling him to make several trips around the world. His experiences led to his publishing the book Future Trade in the Far East in 1896, the work gaining him a Royal Geographical Society fellowship.
In 1899 he set up his own company, C C Wakefield & Co., specialising in supplying lubricants for British and overseas railways. The advent of the motor car led him to launch Wakefield Motor Oil which in 1912 was given the subtitle 'the Castrol brand' as one ingredient was castor oil. Thus was born one of the most famous names in the motor oil business.

Wakefield put his company at a significant advantage by investing in high-profile advertising and ongoing scientific advancement centred on their oil blending plant at Liverpool. Significant help was given to the war effort by the company's development of a non-freezing lubricant for use in aircraft. 

Wakefield was very active in public life, serving as an alderman in London and as Lord Mayor 1915-16. He received a knighthood in 1908 for services to the City of London and was made a baronet in 1917. He was raised to the peerage in 1930 as Baron Wakefield of Hythe, being further elevated in 1934 as Viscount Wakefield of Hythe.  Wakefield was a generous supporter of a wide range of cultural and charitable organisations.
He died on 15th January 1941, aged 81, at his home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire' leaving his wife an estate worth about £40 million in 2024 terms.

51 Russian Drive L13

Wakefield's home after his marriage in 1888

Wakefield in military attire as Lord Mayor of London in 1915


There is a comprehensive entry for Wakefield in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The Wikipedia entry gives a general account of his life.