Search

Lowestoft businessman embraced responsibility

PUBLISHED: 11:03 31 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:45 06 July 2010

TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading Lowestoft businessman who helped restore the town's fishing industry following the second world war.

Tony Cartwright died on his 93rd birthday this week, Monday, December 28.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading Lowestoft businessman who helped restore the town's fishing industry following the second world war.

Tony Cartwright died on his 93rd birthday this week, Monday, December 28.

The second of four children of Harold and Ethel Mary Cartwright, Tony was educated at Haileybury College in Hertfordshire and on leaving school he joined Small & Co, the family fishing business in Lowestoft run by his grandfather and mayor, Frederick Spashett.

In 1939 his Territorial Army regiment (Norfolk and Suffolk Yeomanry) was mobilised and he was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force.

Promoted to Captain with the 50th Northumbrian Division he fought in Belgium and a rearguard action all the way back to Dunkirk, where after two days of being bombed on the beaches he and his regiment managed to scramble onto the last ship to leave (HMS Ascari).

The end of 1940 saw his anti-tank regiment posted to Suez where he was given command of 257 Battery, promoted to Major and was involved in numerous engagements in the Western desert, during which he was wounded twice and awarded the MC for gallantry. After recovering from his second more serious injury at El Alamein he had a period of intensive training at the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Staff school in Haifa. He was then posted as a Grade 2 Staff Officer to Cairo, where he organised the complete evacuation of the Cairo HQ to the heel of Italy. He was subsequently posted back to SOE headquarters at 64 Baker Street in London where he spent the final months of the war and was awarded an MBE for his work.

When the war ended he returned to Lowestoft to help rebuild the town and the shattered fishing industry which before the war had employed over half the adult population.

Over the next 20 years he built up a fleet of 37 modern diesel drifter/trawlers, served on the town council, became a magistrate and represented Lowestoft on the British Trawlers Federation, The Herring Industry Board and the Shipowners Protection and Indemnity Association.

In the mid-1950's he pioneered the revolution in the handling and transport of fish by using a fleet of insulated 'Explorator' lorries containing high grade aluminium boxes thereby for the first time guaranteeing next day delivery to Billingsgate and other inland markets.

In the process of rebuilding the core business of fishing, and by diversifying into over 24 subsidiary businesses, Small & Co grew from the original 11 employees to over 700. These included engineering and coal and fuel oil distribution, printing, Norfolk Broads cruisers, Ford dealerships, garage operations and filling stations.

“His life spanned a period of unprecedented social and economic upheaval and his enthusiasm for the opportunities offered by change and innovation combined with his hard work and determination made him a key figure in the economic recovery of Lowestoft and the fishing industry after the war.

“Throughout his life he never shirked from taking responsibility for the lives and wellbeing of others, whether they were his extended family, the troops under his command, or his 700 employees. His family and friends will miss his courage, love of life, sense of humour, charm and affection,” said a family spokesman.

At his express wish, there will be no funeral or memorial service. The family requests that no flowers be sent but that any donations in his memory may be given to the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society (www.shipwreckedmariners.org.uk).

He leaves a widow, five children and 11 grandchildren.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists