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Paul Magnus, founder of Suffolk-based Magnus Group, dies at the age of 71

PUBLISHED: 16:51 26 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:56 27 March 2018

Paul Magnus, founder of the Magus Group, photographed with one of the group's lorries in 2002.

Paul Magnus, founder of the Magus Group, photographed with one of the group's lorries in 2002.

Suffolk businessman Paul Magnus, whose interests ranged from international shipping to river cruises on the River Orwell, has died aged 71 at his home near Hadleigh following a short illness.

Paul Magnus with the Orwell Lady river cruise vessel in 2012.Paul Magnus with the Orwell Lady river cruise vessel in 2012.

Mr Magnus was brought up in Sydney, Australia, and had an opportunity to serve in the Royal Australian Navy but decided that he was better fitted to a career in civilian shipping.

He went to sea with Blue Star Line on round-the-world ships before “coming ashore” with a Second Mate’s ticket in 1966 to become the first management trainee at the Port of Felixstowe, where he helped lay the foundations of its growth into the UK’s largest container hub.

Mr Magnus launched the first business of his own in 1973 in the form of Municourt, securing the UK general agency of an Israeli shipping line.

In 1978 he founded the Paul Magnus warehousing company, to which transport, distributtion and towage businesses were added over the following nine years.

Now known as Magnus Group and based at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, the company today has 126 employees and operates 66 vehicles, mainly on distribution within the UK, along with a 118,000sq ft warehouse.

Mr Magnus stood down as chairman of the company three years ago, but remained a non-executive director.

While building up the Magnus Group, competing effectively in a market dominated by big national names, he harboured a desire to become directly involved in a maritime venture again.

This finally came about in 2000 in the form of Orwell River Cruises, owned and run by the Magnus family. Its vessel, Orwell Lady, carries up to 118 passengers on cruises from Orwell Quay along the river and into Harwich harbour. The day-to-day boat running is in the hands of operations director Carl Webb, previously a tug skipper at Ipswich for more than 20 years, and the company will continue to be run by members of the family.

Mr Magnus leaves his wife Liz, daughter Emma, son Oliver and three grandchildren, Archie, Scarlett and Darcy. His funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Hadleigh, on Thursday, April 12, at 3.15pm.

The family’s Felixstowe connection is maintained by Oliver who, with school friend Richard Burgess, is joint owner of forwarding and warehousing company Burhill Logistics, based in Parker Avenue.

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