BAGRIT, SIR LEON (1902–1979), British industrialist and automation pioneer. Bagrit was born in Kiev, Russia, but his family arrived in England as refugees from Belgium at the beginning of World War I. He studied engineering at London University, helping to support himself at college by playing the violin in a philharmonic orchestra. He was employed for several years by engineering companies for which he designed machinery but in 1935, in order to be free to use his patents, he established his own firm. In 1937 it was taken over by Elliott Brothers, Bagrit becoming managing director. In 1962, as chairman of the company, now renamed Elliott-Automation, he turned to the development of automated control systems for nuclear, aeronautical, and industrial purposes. The company was the first in Europe devoted to automation. In 1967 Elliott-Automation was taken over by the English Electric Company, with Bagrit as deputy chairman.
He was a member of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (1963–65) and the Advisory Council on Technology (from 1964). A director of the Royal Opera House, he founded the Friends of Covent Garden. He became a consultant on automation to the Israeli government. He was knighted in 1962. In 1964 Bagrit delivered the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures on “The Age of Automation.”