Ross Bacon (59-62)
E.R. (Ross) Bacon (59-62) died on 27th December, 2016, aged 71. A news report in the Grimsby Telegraph stated in part:
“The continued success of one of Grimsby’s best known engineering firms will be the lasting monument to a widely respected local businessmen. Edwin Ross Bacon, know as Ross, sadly died in the Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, aged 71, after a period of failing health. His family home in Scartho has many sympathy cards in tribute to the engineering giant who secured the future of the 117-year-old family business as it transitioned, from its central role in the heyday of Grimsby’s fishing industry, to modern day engineering company. His determination and astute business sense ensured its survival and the livelihoods of many of its workers, while most other fishing firms went to the wall.
Ross, son of Arthur Edwin Bacon, ran E. Bacon & Co Ltd (now Bacon’s Engineering) on Hutton Road for more than 40 years after first serving in The Merchant Navy. He was the fourth generation of the family to run the business, which in the 1940s had more than 40 trawlers in its mid water fishing fleet, a number of which had been requisitioned by the nation during the Second World War as minesweepers. The Bacon’s organisation also provided engineering, carpentry, plumbing, blacksmith and trawler victualling services on Grimsby Docks for many decades.
Born in Sheffield to Edwin and Josephine Ross Bacon in 1945, Ross came to Grimsby after World War Two with his mother to rejoin his father, after he had finished war time service in the Royal Navy. Ross initially attended St James’ School on Bargate, and later went on to study at Pangbourne Naval College, in Berkshire, which he often said was “the making of him” and was a wonderful introduction to the maritime world. He then joined the Merchant Navy in 1962, at the age of 17, which at that point was at the zenith of its domination of global shipping, progressing to the rank of Third Navigating Officer whilst he worked for Port Line, part of the renowned Cunard Group.
A dramatic life-threatening experience came in 1967 when his ship, the Port Invercargill, was caught up in the Suez Canal just as the Israelis and Egyptians waged The 6 Day War and he and his crew were stuck at anchor in Great Bitter Lake for three months along with a number of other trapped merchant ships. During the period of fighting Israeli jets used the merchant ships as cover as they swooped on opposition lines strafing fire over the ships at their enemy who were also returning defensive fire at the planes. His crew came to the rescue of many stricken Egyptian soldiers as they attempted to cross back into Egypt, offering food, medical assistance and transportation across the lake.
In 1969 his father Edwin invited him to return to Grimsby to take over the running of the fishing business element of Bacon’s as the Trawler Manager, an offer too good to refuse. By this time, the company’s Lindsey Trawler fleet constituted seven ships including the Lucerne, Lepanto, Lemberg, Lofoten, Longset, Lavinia and Loveden, all names within a company tradition of seven letters, beginning with “L”, along with the Tom Grant. However from the mid Seventies and into the Eighties he had the unenviable task of steering the family business through its contraction into a engineering business as they fought for survival in the rapidly changing industrial landscape on the Humber.
As a representative of the British Fishing Federation he had frequent visits to Whitehall to state the fishing industry’s case in the face of foreign competition and new EEC fishing ground rules. In April 1976, the Grimsby Telegraph reported how two of the Bacon’s fleet were to be laid up. Ross blamed the Government’s attitude to the fishing industry and said: “It seems that as well as letting the distant water fleet die they are prepared to let the near water fleet go under as well.” The Loveden had landed 155 kits the day before and grossed £4,600; but with £2,000 for fuel, labour of £500 and the crew’s share of the catch it left £600 which Mr Bacon said was unfair. Ross said: “We are operating against heavily-subsidised foreign competition which is raping our North Sea.”
Into his late 50s he was also a director and active member of the Grimsby Conservative Club at Bargate. His son David, who serves in the Royal Navy and will continue to represent his father’s wishes on the Board of Bacon’s said: “He was a fantastic father and absolute family man, I could not have asked for more from him over the years. He was as honest and genuine as the day is long; you simply could not find a man of higher integrity.”
Ross married Sally in 1976 after they first met in The Ship Inn, Barnoldby le Beck, and they were happily married for over 40 years. Sally lovingly recalled that her husband had been nicknamed The Black Prince on the Grimsby Fish Docks on account of his jet black hair and said he had always been “her rock” throughout their long marriage. She said he was always hard working and had got up at 5am for many years to go to the Grimsby Fish Market where he would auction fish before starting at Bacon’s each day. She said that he had gained a great deal of pleasure from his auctioneering days, sparring with the Town’s fish merchants.
This role along with his position at Bacon’s made him a well know face and highly respected man on the Grimsby Docks. Son David said: “It was an absolute credit to him that he was ultimately able to hand over Bacon’s in a brilliant position to progress and prosper in the future after some very turbulent times which forced many other historic companies to fold.” He added: “He was a hugely sociable man and really enjoyed his visits to the pubs around Scartho and the Tea Gardens at Waltham; he had a really amazing group of close friends who meant the world to him.” Over the years he had also been an avid gardener and took great pleasure from his fish pond. David said: “We sadly lost him after a couple of years of failing health, but the shock of his very sudden departure has left us all numb. He will be greatly missed by his family and many, many others.”
Ross Bacon’s lifelong friend Peter Middleton (57-61) gave one of the Tributes at the funeral at St. Giles Church, Scartho on 6th January. He added:
“It was with great pride that last Friday I wore Ross’s OP tie, which he himself always wore with great pride, when, along with his son David, I was privileged and honoured to give a Tribute to my dear friend at his funeral. In that Tribute I expanded on what appeared in the obituary in the local paper and, of course, reminisced about our friendship which lasted over 65 years. Ross was laid to rest in our village churchyard in Scartho. It was this church in a which both Ross and I were married, and where our children were baptised. It was Ross, who incidentally, in 1973 introduced me to my wife. Ross and I lived on the outskirts of Grimsby, about 400 yards apart, so naturally up until the end, saw a lot of one another and socialised with our mutual friends. Every Thursday night we, with other friends, would meet in that bastion of male chauvinism…the male-only Scartho Bowling club.”