Tributes to ‘kind and generous’ former High Peak mill owner

Robert harley Higham pictured with his wife Rachel on their golden wedding anniversary in 2010.
Robert harley Higham pictured with his wife Rachel on their golden wedding anniversary in 2010.

The family of a former High Peak mill owner have paid tribute to his ‘kind and generous spirit’.

Robert Harley Higham who ran the family business at Torr Vale Mill in New Mills from the early 1960s up until 2004, died on Monday, August 28.

The 83-year-old had been ill with cancer for two years and his family described his battle as ‘long and arduous’.

His children said: “Our dad was a wonderful man and we were proud to call him our father.

“Nothing was too much trouble for him and he had a kind and generous spirit. He would go out of his way to help people if they ever needed it.”

Robert was born in Southport to a textile merchant family who took over the running of the mill just after the Second World War.

For four decades he was at the helm of a business, which supplied towels to the NHS, British Steel, the coal board and Harrods.

His family said: “A huge number of people, generations in fact, will know and remember him from their time at the mill, it was his passion and he was a very hands-on manager who knew how to operate and repair all the machines.”

When he was not at work, Robert could be found skiing or sailing and spending time fixing up his 1903 Panhard car.

Rachel, his wife, has organised a family ceremony at their home, and in mid-November there will be a celebration of his life at Dartington Hall in Devon, where the family moved to after Robert retired.