Monty Moss: An Obituary
May 2014: Monty Moss, who has died at the age of 90, had a vast influence over fives at Harrow, where he was captain in 1942; for many years he was chairman and then president of the Old Harrovian Fives Club.
Monty first played fives at his prep school, St Andrew's, Eastbourne. At Harrow he was further encouraged by his House Master, Oliver Bowlby, an Old Etonian, and himself no mean player. Monty played in the first pair with Alexander Fletcher; they were by all accounts a useful rather than outstanding pair, winning against Charterhouse, but being outclassed by Eton who were very strong in these years and at that time boasted 63 courts.
After Harrow Monty went up to Oxford to read philosophy and economics at New College and was then commissioned in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, rising to the rank of captain. By 1945 he was stationed in Italy.
After the war Monty returned to fives as a keen member of the OH club and the Jesters. When he toured Northern Nigeria in 1965 with the EFA team he was seen as the perfect ambassador. Always the most courteous of men both on court and off, Monty was a delight to play fives with. A let was always offered before it could be claimed and conceded graciously however outrageous the acceptance.
In 1947, after considering a career in the Foreign Office, Monty joined the family firm of Moss Bros, the menswear and formal wear chain. He started at the bottom: indeed he had begun at 13 as a lift boy before he went to Harrow. His initial training was at Liverpool, where he learnt to make suits by hand and he then studied every aspect of the business. He joined the board in 1965 and became the firm's shrewd and progressive leader until the mid-1970s. As the fourth generation chairman he oversaw the expansion of Moss Bros to many branches around the UK and took British tailoring to Paris. Following the acquisition of Cecil Gee in 1989 he was instrumental in melding together two different cultures. Monty was renowned for his personal touch and tact. A deeply humane man, he made sure that he visited the families of bereaved staff members and always went to hospital to see those who were sick.
During Monty’s time at Moss Bros dress hire became the norm among people of all backgrounds for special occasions. Monty once said, “Look at a gentleman in morning dress. If it fits it came from us; if it doesn’t he inherited it.”
Monty was President of the Federation of Merchant Tailors and the Tailors' Benevolent Institution, as well as a warden and later a vice-president of the West London Synagogue.
The generous hospitality offered by Monty, wonderfully supported by his wife, Jane, was always to be found at fives and other events. We share the deep sense of loss felt by Jane, daughter Joanna and sons, Andrew and David, who were themselves both fives players at Harrow.