Taylor was born in Glasgow on 27 April 1912. His father, John Sharp Taylor, was an Independent Labour Party Member. He died when Tom was three years old and was raised with his two siblings by his mother from that time.
In 1931 a scholarship led to his living in Germany, where he also returned later in his youth. In 1931 he was a member of the German Young Socialists but was opposed the rise of the Nazi Party. During the Second World War he was a conscientious objector. Taylor later became a Quaker.
He died on 13 July 2001.
He was married in 1943 to Isobel Wands and had two daughters: Jill and Joyce.
He later stood for the ILP as parliamentary candidate in the 1941 Edinburgh Central by-election. He later joined the Labour Party, then the Social Democratic Party, before returning to Labour in the 1990s.
Taylor opposed Scottish devolution. Although an opponent of the Government's Railways Bill in 1993, he noted that he had no objection of privatisation as a concept.
Taylor served as President of the Co-operative Wholesale Society in Scotland and chaired the UK Forestry Commission. From 1971-80, he was chairman of Scottish Railways and a number of other companies including Morgan Grenfell Scotland.
Member: British Railways Board, 1968–80 (Chairman Scottish Railways Board, 1971–80); Board of Scottish Television, 1968–82; Forestry Commission, 1963–76 (Chairman., 1970–76). President, Scottish CWS, 1965–70; Member, Scottish Economic Council, 1971–74. Director: Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co. Ltd, 1971–89; Friends’ Provident Life Office, 1972–82; Scottish Metropolitan Property Co. Ltd, 1972–88; BR Property Bd, 1972–82; Member International Advisory Council, Morgan Grenfell. Chairman, Economic Forestry Group, 1976–81. Chairman, All-Party Parliamentary Forestry Group, 1995–. Trustee, Dulverton Trust, 1980–; Chm., Scottish Action on Dementia.
- Independent (newspaper) obituary 15 July 2001
- Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
- Guardian (newspaper) obituary 29 July 2001
- "No. 44514". The London Gazette. 30 January 1968. p. 1191.
- Guardian obituary
- Who's Who 2000
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