Bakers Dolphin director Bob ‘will be greatly missed’

Bob and John Baker. Picture: Bakers Dolphin

Bob and John Baker. Picture: Bakers Dolphin - Credit: Archant

A driving force behind the success of one of Weston-super-Mare’s biggest businesses has died.

Bob Baker, who for decades oversaw the growth of travel operator Bakers Dolphin, died at the age of 79 on Monday.

The business, which was formed back in 1889, is one of the biggest travel firms in the West Country – best known for coach travel.

Bob, who had homes in Lympsham and Chelsea, held several boardroom roles for the company – which was founded by his grandfather Charles Theodore Baker.

Bob was one of Jack and Mary Baker’s five children, and he leaves behind widow Sandra and four children, Patrick, Damon, James and Deborah.

Bakers Dolphin managing director Max Fletcher said Bob made a ‘fantastic contribution’ to the business and will be greatly missed.

He joined the family business – then known as J N Baker Ltd – in 1961 after graduating with a degree in civil engineering from London University.

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Alongside brother and fellow director John, he orchestrated the firm’s impressive expansion – which included the acquisition of competitor Wems Coaches in 1981.

He also launched the businesses’ travel agency in the 1980s to capitalise on the growing popularity of package holidays and overseas travel – with the first branch opening in Regent Street.

The business grew and rebranded as Bakers Dolphin, before the travel agency was sold to First Choice in 1998 – who Bob then worked for as a consultant.

He continued to play a pivotal role in growing Bakers Dolphin’s coaches business with his brother, launching the Bristol-to-London London Flyer service, expanding the firm’s fleet of coaches and offering a wider range of international destinations.

Away from the business, Bob served as chairman of Weston Round Table and a member of the 41 Club.

He was also a keen follower of Weston Rugby Club.

Mr Fletcher said: “Bakers Dolphin has always been a family business and everyone knew Bob and the fantastic contribution he made over the years to our successes.

“We all owe him so much for developing the business over the years and our heart-felt condolences go to his family.

“He will be greatly missed.”