TRIBUTES have been paid to the last member of a family behind a world famous Northumberland fishing tackle company.
Jim Hardy, the final direct link between the Alnwick business now known as Hardy and Greys Ltd and its founding family, died following illness at the end of last month, aged 85.
The current company manager last night called Mr Hardy a “real gentleman” who was “much loved and respected”.
James Leighton Hardy was born in 1927 and was first introduced to the sport of fishing at the age of seven.
He finished his education at Uppingham boarding school in Rutland in 1944.
Mr Hardy went onto serve in the army with the Derbyshire Yeomanry in North Africa and the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars cavalry regiment in Palestine.
In 1948 he took a special engineering apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong armaments makers in Newcastle.
Mr Hardy junior soon joined the Hardy fishing tackle business, where his father William Hardy was joint managing director. He spent a year ‘working at the bench’ and learning the ropes in various departments.
Mr Hardy then qualified in work-study engineering before setting up the company’s own work-study department.
He joined the board in 1959 as works director and in 1967, shortly after the firm was bought by the Harris and Sheldon group, was appointed marketing director.
The company’s fortunes in the home and overseas markets improved dramatically, and this is said to be in part because of Mr Hardy’s efforts.
Like all Hardys, he was said to be a fervent and very knowledgeable fisherman.
Mr Hardy was a formidable competition caster.
He won three professional casting championships at world championship level and took 35 British and all-comers professional casting records.
Mr Hardy retired from the company in 1992, after 44 years. He was however retained as a consultant, often being seen in the factory taking a keen interest in the business.
Mr Hardy spent many years researching the history of the company and writing a book, The House the Hardy Brothers Built, which was published in 1998 by The Medlar Press.
He recently appeared in a film The Lost World of Mr Hardy, which tells the story of the company’s history.
His wife Gwynne, who died last year, was also a keen angler, and they lived at Greenrigg, Bilton, in his beloved Northumbrian countryside.
Mr Hardy is survived by their two children, Roy and Rona, with the former running the Tower restaurant in Alnwick, and his four grandchildren.
He died in hospital on July 28, having suffered from pneumonia.
A memorial service will be held at St Mary’s Church, Lesbury, tomorrow at 11am and afterwards at Hardy’s museum.
Deputy chairman at Hardy’s Richard Maudslay said: “He was a real gentleman.
“He was much loved and respected by all of the people who he came into contact with and over his long life he came into contact with so many people in the fishing industry not just in the UK but around the world.”