Robert Lang Fleming, a major figure in Dundee’s modern industrial history, has died at the age of 90.
He was managing director of Robert L Fleming Ltd at Seabraes Mill, off Perth Road, for 30 years until 1974 and saw it grow to the forefront of the sackmaking and specialist paper converter industry in the United Kingdom.
His family had been involved in the Dundee textile trade for some 200 years, with his great grandfather setting up a jute mill trading as DH Fleming & Sons.
His father, also Robert Lang Fleming, left the family firm in 1932 to establish Robert L Fleming, which manufactured hessian-backed paper sacks in the Kingsway Works in Clepington Road.
Young Robert or Bob as he was known was educated at the High School of Dundee and in 1935 at the age of 13 his father decided he should leave to learn the trade.
Four years later his father bought the Seabraes Mill and it became the building from which the company flourished.
Bob went off to war and after Sandhurst was commissioned in the North Irish Horse, a tank regiment and served in North Africa and Italy.
His father died while he was away and Bob returned to take over the company as managing director, buying the business in 1950.
Robert L Fleming pioneered the process of using whale oil from the South Atlantic and jute from the Indian subcontinent to laminate jute on to paper to make more durable and versatile sacks.
The company prospered while the British jute industry went into decline, with Mr Fleming following a path of innovation which he believed was crucial to its future.
Under his guidance Fleming successfully diversified into a wider range of paper products and found new ways to make sacks of greater strength for fertilizer, feedstuffs and cement.
Robert L Fleming made some of the best-known paper bags in Britain with a range of customers including British Sugar, Homepride, Spillers, ICI, St Ivel and Dairy Crest.
The company grew into being the leading producer of sacks in Britain and employed around 200 people at Seabraes in Dundee and at Mold in Wales.
In 1964 the company was sold to Billerud Aktiebolag of Sweden in an arrangement which secured access to Scandinavian forests for raw material supplies.
He continued on the board for 10 years and after three years as a consultant he retired in 1977.
He was replaced as managing director by John Picton, who in turn was succeeded by Harry Wills.
In 1995 Robert L Fleming was sold by its parent company to another large Swedish concern, AssiDoman, and the Seabraes Mill later closed.
Bob’s wife Norma was from Montrose and the couple married in 1947. Tragically she died only six years later from leukaemia, leaving him with two young daughters, to whom he was devoted.
When he retired he bought a house at Dornie overlooking Eilean Donan Castle and across to Skye and spent many summers pursuing his love of angling and gardening and welcoming his family and friends on their visits.
For the rest of the year he stayed at his flat in Chelsea, where he developed an interest in local history and enjoyed photography and computing.
Travel was another passion and each spring for many years, with one item of hand luggage, he spent two months in Asia and Australasia building up a massive archive of photography.
Mr Fleming lived latterly in Guildford where he passed away. He is survived by his daughter Joyce his older daughter Pam having died two years ago by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.