Leading Industrialists Demise – Mr. E. Rigby Jones Droichead Nua
Mr. Eric Rigby Jones Morristownbiller House, Droichead Nua, whose death occurred on Sunday, had been Managing Director of Irish Ropes Ltd., since the foundation of the industry at Droichead Nua in 1933. Deceased, English by birth, was aged 55 years. He is survived by his wife, two sons and one daughter, to whom sincere sympathy is extended in their sorrow.
Mr. Rigby Jones, whose organising ability and technical knowledge played a major part in the success of the industry he founded, was a very popular and respected figure, and was particularly esteemed by his business colleagues, and by his factory workers. By his death Irish industry has sustained a grievous loss, and his passing is widely and deeply regretted.
Born on September 20th, 1897, at Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, deceased was eldest son of the late Harry and Alice Rigby-Jones. Educated at Rossall (1910-1914), he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Bille Batt., King’s Liverpool Regiment, in 1915. He served in France in 1917, participating in the battles of Arras and Ypres. In that year, also he was promoted Captain, and in 1918 was mentioned in despatches for conspicuous gallantry at St. Quentin.
He was awarded the Military Cross and Bar, the decoration being conferred by the late King George V., at Buckingham Palace.
Having left the army, Mr. Rigby-Jones was appointed director of H. and J. Jones and Co., Ltd., the family cordage business at Liverpool. Married in June 1922 to Sarah youngest daughter of Dr. John Charles and Annie Davies of Rhos Wrexham, North Wales, he had two sons, Peter and Michael, and a daughter, Ann.
In 1925 he became a member of the Liverpool Rotary Club, and in the following year paid his first visit to Ireland, spending a fortnight on business in the West. In 1927 he visited the United States; in 1928 he was appointed to the College of Stewards of Liverpool Cathedral. He was mainly responsible for the welcome of 10,000 Boy Scouts, at Liverpool Cathedral, for the Jamboree in 1928.
In 1933 Irish Ropes Ltd., was established and Mr. Rigby-Jones came to Droichead Nua as Managing Director of the factory. At the time of establishment the factory was no more than the dilapidated riding school of the old military barracks. The floor was of mud and it is on record that there was not one whole pane of glass in the widows.
With characteristic zeal and thoroughness Mr. Rigby-Jones set to work to build up his industry. First, the premises were renovated, then the machines were installed and a small staff was engaged and production began.
In the beginning business was slow, but the Managing Director’s great organising ability and business acumen were very much in the evidence as he pushed ahead with his plans to cater for the home market and to explore the markets of the world. He instituted the shorting week as his staff expanded and, this novel idea worked successfully from the outset. ‘
When the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Sean Lemass, inspected the new factory on its first anniversary in 1931, it was obvious that the industry had come to stay and was sure to expand.
It was the beginning of Droichead Nua’s recovery; the town had been stricken, but Irish Ropes, and the mounting volume of employment it offered, set the town on the right road to recovery.
Through the years Mr. Rigby-Jones continued to be the guiding spirit behind the factory’s remarkable progress. He instituted new insurance and welfare schemes among his workers and saw to it that the fullest payment was made for their services.
Deceased had little interests outside his home and the factory; the industry was his life-work, and so great was his interest in it that he visited Africa on two occasions in order to develop relations between the manufacturers and the growers of the raw material, sisal. During a fuel crisis in the town some years ago Mr. Rigby-Jones very generously made available to the townspeople a stock of fuel. Although he took little public interest in town affairs he was keenly aware of the town’s requirements, and in many ways, behind the scenes, as it were, he was responsible for a number of improvements in the town.
As a manager and organiser of industry, Mr. Rigby-Jones had few peers; in his dealings with his workers he was known as a straightforward, firm and generous employer. They recognised him as one who had their welfare and security sincerely at heart and at all times gave to him the co-operation and service he so fully deserved.
His widely mourned passing will be a major loss to Droichead Nua and to Irish Ropes Ltd.
A fitting memorial to his life-work will be the magnificent factory premises which he raised from the dilapidated building to the imposing present-day status as the hub of a thriving Irish industry.
The funeral which took place to New Cemetery on Wednesday was fully representative of the industrial, business and social life.
Chief mourners were Mrs. S.D. Rigby-Jones (widow); Peter and Michael (sons): Ann (daughter): Mr. Guy Rigby-Jones (brother): Mrs. G. Forshaw (sister).
All of the factory premises closed on Wednesday as a mark of respect.
This obituary appeared in The Leinster Leader of 26 July 1952.