In memory of Ronald B. Hesselden

Ron Hesselden, who has died age 97yrs at his home in Huddersfield, was one of the co-founders of Holset Engineering Company in 1952. The firm went on to become a global leader in turbocharger and fan drive manufacturing, now part of Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT). He worked his way up from being Works Manager in 1952 to Works Director in 1961, eventually becoming Managing Director during the 1970s and finally retired in 1982.

Ron was born near Halifax on Christmas Day 1922. He was born with a genetic skin condition, epidermolysis bullosa (butterfly skin) which causes blistering at the slightest touch. He was until his death the oldest person in the UK living with EB. This had a major impact on his life and ambitions, however, he was determined to become a design engineer.

He completed his engineering apprenticeship at David Brown Tractors in Meltham, before working at English Electric in Stafford and Rowntrees of York. It was here at Rowntrees in the drawing office where he was instrumental in helping to design the first Polo Mint machine and the machine for placing chocolates into plastic moulded trays.   

In 1949 he was recruited by Paul Croset (an engineering entrepreneur) as a design draughtsman with a view to establishing Holset Engineering Company, which they did in 1952. Ron was instrumental in helping to develop Holset into becoming a first class, globally respected Engineering Company in Huddersfield, employing some 1500 local people. Ron worked for the company for the rest of his career. His exuberant personality, product knowledge and leadership qualities made him the obvious choice to lead delegations and union negotiations.

His work took him to counties all over the world, setting up manufacturing plants and negotiating licences in South Africa, Brazil, China, Japan, Eastern and Western European countries and the US.

He married in 1946 and was a devoted family man. His wife Una, died in 2019 after nearly 73 years of marriage and his daughter Ann in 2016. He is survived by his son, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

In retirement, Ron worked with as much passion, energy and devotion as he had done throughout his remarkable working career. He served as a Magistrate for fifteen years and was Chair of the bench as well as a Commissioner for Taxes. He was deputy chair of Salendine Nook School High School and on the Board of Governors at both Huddersfield Technical College and Huddersfield Polytechnic.

He was a talented & keen cricketer, crown green bowler and golfer. He enjoyed being a season ticket holder at Huddersfield Town AFC and was a talented artist. Ron wrote his life history in 1994 as a legacy for his family.

He was a dedicated, inspirational and much-loved family man.