Began career working for the firm of Stone Platt formerly known as Platt Brothers which designed and manufactured textile machinery and was founded by his great, great grandfather Henry Platt.
He then worked for a small engineering firm making accessories for the textile industry before founding his own successful company 'Domindo Tool Hire' in Shrewsbury.
Lived at Melyniog Hall, Lllansantffraid-Ym-Mechain.
Funeral Tribute by Peter Bridge:
I consider it a great privilege to have been asked by Anne to say a few words about Robert. I could never have wished for a better uncle. How many people have uncles who allowed them to shoot a Colt revolver at the age of 13 or who set up magical firework displays having made all the fireworks himself?
Robert was born in 1935 at Wellington Lodge, Oldham. He had an older sister, Margaret, and from a very early age every weekend was spent at his grandparents’ country home Pentreheylin Hall near Llansantffraid.
Before long, his parents moved to Wales full-time and eventually settled at Melyniog. For a boy like Robert the country life was blissful. He quickly developed a love of country pursuits and spent many a happy hour fishing and bird watching. August was always spent in Scotland at his mother’s family home and farm, Glencrosh, in Dumfriesshire, where he and Margaret spent many happy days in the company of a large group of aunts, uncles and cousins as well as their grandparents.
Both Robert’s father and grandfather were engineers so it was unsurprising that Robert soon developed a passion for engines and all things mechanical. They both had very well-equipped workshops in which Robert would spend hours. During his schooldays at Clifton College in Bristol Robert’s idea of hell was shivering on a cold windy rugby pitch but he excelled in mechanical engineering even building his own motorbike, which he was allowed to ride on the roads. He loved nothing more than motorbiking with his father around mid-Wales during the holidays.
Soon he progressed to larger engines. However, when he borrowed his father’s car and got it stuck in a cattle-grid his father declared it was time Robert bought a car of his own. He splashed out on an MG, the first of many sports cars which were to become his pride and joy.
After Clifton, Robert took up an apprenticeship at Stone Platt formerly known as Platt Bros, this firm was founded by his great, great grandfather, Henry Platt and Robert became the fifth generation of his family to work there. At its zenith, in the first quarter of the 20th Century, Platts employed 15,000 workers and was the largest maker of cotton-processing machinery in Lancashire, and indeed the world. Robert’s considerable mechanical aptitude was soon recognised, and he qualified as a Chartered Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers after attending night school.
It was not surprising that a good-looking, well-qualified young man in a fast car caught the eye of the young Anne Rippon. There were definitely fireworks when the two first met at a bonfire and cocktail party at Anne’s home in Wilmslow. By an extraordinary coincidence, Anne’s parents had moved into a house called Longmeade, which they had bought from the Bridge family. Seeing Anne later as a bridesmaid at an uncle’s wedding gave him the perfect opportunity to ask her out. They were married in 1960 at Norley Church – a place Robert and Anne re- visited very recently on one of Robert’s last outings. Anne was 19 and Robert 25. For a couple of years, they particularly enjoyed rallying in Robert’s TR2 and then his TR3 but that life style was about to change….
In 1962 Sue arrived followed by Ali in ‘64 and Nicky in ‘66. They could not have been happier. Initially they continued to live in Oldham but moved to Cheshire in ‘68 and finally back to Melyniog in 1972. However, there was hardly ever a weekend when they didn’t make the journey from Oldham or Cheshire to Melyniog to stay with Robert’s parents.
By this time, Robert had moved from Platt’s to work for an engineering firm near Macclesfield. It was then that his attention was caught by a tool hire company which was doing very well. An idea formed in his mind and when they moved back to Melyniog he decided to take the plunge and start his own tool hire company – Domindo (Domestic and Industrial). Through a lot of hard work, Robert successfully built the business up to the point where there were 6 branches and he sold out to BET in the early 90s after they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Robert and Anne ensured that the girls grew up in a very happy family. They spent their holidays riding ponies, swimming in the river and of course learning all about country life from Robert. Despite Anne’s love of all things equine Robert only tolerated horses and then at a distance! He was however, persuaded to be a time keeper at Bodynfael Horse Trials.
Robert’s love of engines soon moved on from cars to planes and he joined forces with Robin Richards, Harry Sing and Gwyn Nicholas to become the part owner of a plane which was kept at Sandford Hall. Robert approached flying with the same diligence he had shown when qualifying as an engineer and even went on to attain his Instrument Rating qualifications. However, this didn’t prevent the odd mishap and Robert made it into the Shropshire Star after a change in wind direction on take-off forced him to nosedive into a hedge. Luckily neither he nor his passenger, Sue, were injured and a family joke later compared it to Anne’s horses jumping hedges. Despite this, flying became a passion for Robert and he loved trips across the Channel – particularly to see Sue when she was studying in the Dordogne, or to Le Touquet for lunch – he always appreciated good food and fine wines.
Robert had many interests and hobbies including flying model aircraft (naturally ones he had made himself) and fly-tying. He was always especially fond of his dogs and made a terrific fuss of them. They used to accompany him shooting and a good retrieve meant far more to him than the number of birds shot. But above all, Robert loved the company of his friends with the good natural banter and chat that is part of an enjoyable day’s shooting.
Robert was an exceptional fisherman and during his lifetime fished all over the UK and Ireland. He loved his trips up to Scotland fishing with his regular parties. I was very lucky to be included in some of them on the Dee and the Spey.
Another talent of Robert’s was the remarkable ability to identify a bird by its song and his love of birding involved trips with his friends all over the world. Indeed, Robert and Anne loved their travelling. Once, on a holiday to Israel at a time when things weren’t very settled there, he made his way up onto the flat roof of the hotel to photograph the evening lights of Jerusalem. Slightly distracted, he managed to walk straight into a tight clothes line. He was certain that an Arab had garrotted him until he realised that he was still alive!
Robert was massively appreciative of Phil’s and Seb’s efforts and skills in the garden at Melyniog, and of Caroline’s in the house. Melyniog always looks amazing, and Robert planted many trees and bushes in the orchard and field to attract birds and provide screening.
If Robert was proud of Melyniog, it was nothing compared to the pride he had in its inhabitants! He was a true family man in every sense and he and Anne brought up the girls to be strong-minded, independent, kind and thoughtful. There is always a warm welcome, wonderful food and wine and a collection of amusing tales for any visitor. Family visits are memorable occasions. The competitive spirit is alive and kicking and needle games of croquet, British Bulldogs and hockey are hard-fought. Latterly Robert was blessed to have not only Sue, Ali, Nicky and Rodney living nearby, but also Katie and Emily whose visits gave him a new lease of life. When Emma, Tom and Robbie all visited, life became one huge social whirl. Then Jack, Harry, Rory, Alex, Pali and Murray all joined the crew. Life was never dull and Robert enjoyed every minute of it.
Anne has always been there for Robert. Never more so than in the last few years as his mobility and balance deteriorated. She looked after him with selfless devotion and constant good humour.
To have reached the age of 87 is a remarkable feat for someone who had had 20 operations in all, including two heart-bypasses and two new hips. Robert was indeed resilient.
Robert was a very special friend to so many people, you will all have your own special memories. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and you could never feel unhappy in Robert’s company. He always made you feel special – as if you were the only person in the world. He had a wonderful sense of humour and eyes that sparkled with his innate sense of fun.
All of us are the better for having known him.