Kenneth Preston

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameKenneth Huson•Preston
Used nameKenneth•Preston
Born19 May 1901 in Sevenoaks, Kent, England (GBR)
Died6 June 1995 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England (GBR)
AffiliationsBembridge Sailing Club, Bembridge (GBR)
Title(s)Sir
NOC Great Britain

Biography

Sir Walter Preston was an industrialist and MP for Mile End (London) 1918-23, and for Cheltenham between 1928-37. He was a keen yachtsman, and died suddenly on board his yacht Malahne at Cowes in 1945. He had three sons, Kenneth, Bryan and Francis, who were all keen yachtsmen, with Kenneth and Francis both competing in the 1936 Olympics. They were part of the crew aboard Saskia (co-owned by Kenneth and Robert Steele in the 8-metre event at Kiel. After showing early promise, finishing fourth in races one and two, they never managed such a highly placed finish in the remaining races and finished sixth overall.

Kenneth Preston was educated at Rugby School where he played for the rugby first XV. He was also a keen runner, once finishing second in the 440 yards in a national schools competition. After Rugby, Preston went to Trinity College Oxford and played for the rugby team, but missed out on a Blue due to an unfortunate ankle injury. Like his father and brothers, he enjoyed sailing, and for his 21st birthday was given the 15-metre Nayama, which he raced on the Solent. He competed in the 1936 and 1952 Olympics and throughout the 1950s was dominant amongst British “big boats”. He went to a third Olympics in 1960 as the “non-competing” captain of the Great Britain team.

Preston was involved in sailing for most of his life and was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) for 72 years. He was their vice-commodore 1965-71 and during his tenure, HRH Prince Philip was the Squadron’s commodore. Shortly before his death, Preston presented the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy to be contested by RYS members each year. Preston was also vice-commodore of the Royal Thames Yacht Club 1953-66.

Although Kenneth Preston was well known as a yachtsman, he was also a highly successful businessman like his father. He left university without a degree and went into the family engineering business and became chairman of one of their acquisitions, Platt Brothers, who provided machinery for most of the Lancashire cotton industry in its heyday. He was knighted in 1959 for services to industry, at a time when his company was selling machinery overseas to third world countries. In addition to serving on the board of his own companies, Preston was also on the Midland Bank board of directors between 1945-76. Preston was also on the board of the southern area of British Rail and was an adviser to the British Export Credits Guarantee Corporation.

Preston was a friend of the Duke of Beaufort and rode with the Beaufort Hunt in his younger days. In his later years he continued with another passion, golf, and played until the age of 86.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Sailing GBR Kenneth Preston
8 metres, Open (Olympic) Saskia 6
1952 Summer Olympics Sailing GBR Kenneth Preston
6 metres, Open (Olympic) Titia 9

Olympic family relations