It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Bill Fairbrother from his son Keith. Bill’s articles featured regularly in Sea Breezes over the years and as recently as the November 2013 edition we enjoyed his piece ‘Caribbean Odyssey – An Engineering Offcer’s Adventures at Sea’.
Born in Liverpool in 1942, he left school at 15 to work as a stores boy on the docks. In 1958 he began his engineering apprenticeship with James Troop, but he was always desperate to get to sea. His career at sea was from 1963-1973, his first job as Junior Engineer was with Pacific Steam Navigation Co, but he went on to work for T&J Harrison, Bibby Line and Palm Line.
He gained his 2nd Class Engineer’s Certificate in 1967 and became a Chief Engineer in 1973. At this point, now with a young family, he decided to work ashore in Merseyside, firstly for Cammell Laird and then J Gordon Alison and the Seaforth Group. In 1982 he moved to manage Seaforth’s Ipswich Ship Repair Yard, building this business up over seven years, before starting his own company, FT Marine.
FT Marine went on to become a well respected operation around the East Anglian ports. In 2003 he retired and sold the company, but continued to work in the industry as a part-time consultant.
Bill was passionate about furthering the marine engineering profession serving as Honorary Secretary for the Institute’s East of England Branch up until his sudden death at home in Ipswich on October 18th 2013. Bill will be greatly missed; his stories of his apprenticeship and his time at sea were not only enjoyed by our readers, but are a valuable record of a way of life at sea that has now gone.
He was a real credit to our industry.
Our condolences go out to Bill’s family at this time.