FALL RIVER, MA – Arthur Hancock owns four Buick Roadmaster station wagons. He’s owned 10 of them over the years, but currently only has four in his possession – some of them for parts. We’re rolling through the streets of Fall River in one of them, the nearly 18-foot-long wagon cruising like a big-bellied trawler cutting through a sou’west swell.
Arthur likes big station wagons. They’re comfy, ride well, and you can get a wicked pile of blocks, deck plates, boat hooks, and other stuff in the back.
For years, Arthur averaged a good 50,000 miles annually, delivering a lot of his marine hardware in person. Now, at the age of 78, he’s cut that down to “about 25,000.”
We’ve just left the Fall River Marine Museum where Arthur is a director emeritus. One of the highlights was a massive all-whalebone model of the three-master warship Hancock, which Arthur tried to convince me was named after him.
You could almost tell that the Roadmaster was disappointed that we were headed back home so soon. No runs to Eastport, ME or Wanchese, NC today. Just breakfast, the museum, and back to Hancock Marine.
We cruise down Clark St. and take a right onto River St. Arthur pulls into the parking lot in front of the building he moved the business into back in 1974. He shuts the big Buick off and turns to face me.
“OK,” he says. “Whattaya want to know?”
While this year marks the 50th anniversary of Arthur taking the helm at Hancock Marine, you actually have go back almost another three decades – to 1935 – to find the company’s roots. That’s when Arthur’s father first set up shop on the eastern shore of Mount Hope Bay at the mouth of the Taunton River.
“My father was a helluva guy,” says Arthur. “He was a good father to me, steering me in the right direction as far as hard work and all that sort of stuff. He graduated second in his class from Massachusetts Nautical School in Boston – what’s now known as Mass Maritime Academy – in 1922.
“When he graduated, he chose to get into the world of sail, which was in its dying days at that point,” he says. “Why? I think he liked a good challenge.”
Arthur’s father built a railway in 1930 for his own use and began doing machine work for others a few years after that. But it was his invention of the Hancock winch in 1935 that truly established the business.
“The Hancock winch was geared mostly towards smaller vessels – 35′ to 50′ – as the main towing winch,” says Arthur…
Read the rest and much, much more in the September issue of Commercial Fisheries News.
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