Former Harbour Master of Southampton Captain Malcolm Ridge has died at the age of 92.
A FORMER harbour master of Southampton and guardian at St Nicholas Church in Brockenhurst has died at the age of 92.
Captain Malcolm Ridge served in the role between 1981 and 1993, and before that had enjoyed a long career on the sea including a stint in the Merchant Navy and as an officer on the Cunard White Star line.
Born in West Wickham in Kent, Malcolm was the eldest son of Arthur and Winifred Ridge, and brother to Vernon.
His childhood home was bombed during the Second World War, and at the age of eight, he was evacuated from London to Liverpool and from there to Southampton.
There he attended King Edward VI School and decided at the age of 16 to join the British shipping line Union Castle as a deck cadet on a mail service ship between the UK and Africa.
Like his father, Malcolm had always wanted to go to sea and joined the Merchant Navy after being called up for National Service.
Having acquired the required sea-going period of four years, he passed his 2nd Mates Certificate of Competency which allowed him to take up a watchkeeping role.
In 1952, he joined the Cunard White Star Line where he served on many passenger and cargo ships as both a 2nd and 3rd officer.
Six years later Malcolm obtained his Masters (foreign-going) Certificate of Competency, after which he went overseas and joined the Nigerian Ports Authority in Lagos as a marine officer.
He undertook a number of roles, including command of an 8,000-tonne vessel transporting bulk coal from Port Harcourt in the Eastern Region to Lagos Power Station.
Malcolm was invited to join the hydrographic team in Lagos, undertaking surveys on various routes to the developing ports and oilfields within Nigeria.
This came about through his work with the Royal Naval Reserve in the 1950s where he had specialised in hydrography.
The Nigerian-Biafran War forced many ex-patriots – Malcolm included – to return from Africa to the UK in the mid-’60s.
On returning home, he secured a role with the Southampton Harbour Board as a hydrographic surveyor, and settled in Brockenhurst with his wife Julia, whom he married in 1967.
He was promoted to the port’s principal hydrographer in 1968, becoming deputy harbour master in 1978 and, three years later, became harbour master of Southampton, heading the port’s entire maritime team.
His tenure included the Falklands conflict which called for close collaboration with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.
Malcolm retired as harbour master in 1993 but was retained for a further three years as marine advisor to all 23 ports owned and operated by Associated British Ports.
After he retired, Malcolm became a long-standing supporter of Brockenhurst Probus and Brockenhurst Horticultural Association. He was also a guardian at St Nicholas Church in the village, and a member of its British Legion.
Malcolm died peacefully at Carpathia Grange Nursing Home on 12th January. He is survived by his wife Julia, brother Vernon and son Giles.
A celebration of his life took place at St Nicholas Church in Brockenhurst on 1st February.
Donations in Malcolm’s memory will benefit the Dogs Trust and The Mission to Seafarers, and can be sent care of Maria Jones Funeral Directors, Little Holbrook, 56 Brookley Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7RA.