Whitby-born top businessman dies, aged 84

Frank Graves
Frank Graves

A Whitby man who helped mastermind the construction of the Birmingham NEC has died on his 84th birthday.

Frank Graves, a chartered quantity surveyor, whose practice Francis Graves grew into one of Birmingham’s best known companies, enjoyed a highly prominent career in the Midlands over several decades.

Mr Graves was born in Whitby on June 9, 1929, and was brought up in Sleights, where his grandparents and father were also raised. His grandfather was chief coastguard in the town and his father was a merchant seaman, who was killed during World War Two.

He attended Whitby Grammar School, before moving to Birmingham in 1947.

He married Phyllis in 1951 and the couple had two children, Helen, born in 1953, and Richard, born in 1956.

Among his many achievements, he was project controller for the contract to build the NEC in the 1970s, deputy lieutenant of the West Midlands in 1982, High Sheriff of the West Midlands in 1988-89, vice-president at Aston Villa, a committee member at Warwickshire CCC and President at Harborne CC.

Awarded the OBE in 1983, he was also a president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, a director of the Hippodrome Trust, Chairman of the South Birmingham Health Authority and vice-chairman of the West Midlands Army Benevolent Fund.

He started his practice, Francis C Graves and Partners, in August 1956. The business grew and had offices throughout the UK.

His son Richard, who was a partner in the practice, died in 2009. He is survived by his wife Phyllis and his daughter Helen, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will take place in July.