On Saturday, July 28, James Leighton Hardythe last direct link between the company now known as Hardy & Greys Ltd and the founding familypassed away near Alnwick, England. He was a larger-than-life figure in his day, as this remembrance from Hardy & Greys makes clear:
Born in 1927, Jim finished his education at Uppingham in 1944, and then served with the Derbyshire Yeomanry in North Africa and the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars in Palestine. In 1948 he took a special engineering apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle before joining the Hardy fishing tackle business, where he spent a year ‘working at the bench’ and learning the ropes in various departments. He 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 & Sheldon Group, was appointed Marketing Director. It was partly due to his efforts that Hardy’s fortunes improved dramatically in the home and overseas markets.
Like all Hardys, Jim was a fervent and very knowledgeable fisherman, having been first introduced to the sport at the age of seven. A formidable competition caster, he won three Professional Casting Championships at world championship level and took 35 British and All-Comers Professional Casting records.
He retired from the company in 1992, after 44 years, but was retained as a consultant, often being seen in the factory taking a keen interest in the business. He 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.
His wife Gwynne, who died last year, was also a keen angler, and they lived just a few miles from Alnwick, in his beloved Northumbrian countryside. Jim is survived by their two children, Roy and Rona.
When he heard the news of Hardy’s passing, Orvis vice president of Rod & Tackle Jim Lepage wrote in an email:
I used to work with Jim in the early 90’s a bit, although he was a hands-off manager even during that time. I remember when I first met him thinking that I was truly meeting royalty. He made a lasting impression on me.
“Mister Jim,” as he was respectfully referred to by his employees, is featured prominently in the video clip below, an outtake from the documentary “The Lost World of Mr. Hardy.”