Ross Scott McLaren was born in Lartington. Yorkshire on 3 March 1906. He was educated at Rossall School and Armstrong College, Durham University and served his apprenticeship with the Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Collieries Ltd. He gained his Manager’s Certificate in 1930 and in 1933 was appointed manager of Eppleton Colliery, later transferring to Silksworth Colliery, the largest in the company.
In 1939. as a Territorial Officer, he left for active service with the Durham Light Infantry in France where he was awarded the D.S.O.and was among the last troops to be evacuated from Dunkirk. He was drafted to the Middle East and in 1941 was taken prisoner and sent to Italy.
From 1944-1945, he was Group Production Director with the Ministry of Fuel and Power and then returned to his old colliery company where he became Agent of the Eppleton Group. During this time he was sent to America and Germany where he studied their latest techniques in mechanized mining.
On nationalisation McLaren was made General Manager for the NE Area of Durham and successfully merged these groups of collieries with their differing methods of production, administration and commercial activity. In 1952 he moved to General Manager for the SE Area. After 4 years he became Production Director for the Durham Division and was successful in increasing considerably the coal mined mechanically. In 1964 the Northumberland and Durham Divisions were merged and he became Production Director for the new Division.
He became a Member of NEIMME in 1934 and was its President in 1958-59. He was a member of the Institution of Mining Engineers Council for some eight years and sat on various committees. In 1959 he was awarded the Stanley Walton-Brown Silver Salver for special services to NEIMME.
He was seen as a natural leader of men and had the loyalty and trust of his colleagues and those under his command. His negotiations with union representatives were straightforward and honest and won respect from the men.
Apart from his mining activities he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Durham in 1948 and a Justice of the Peace for South Shields in 1950 and then in 1953 for Durham county.
He was awarded the MBE in 1940 for war activities and the OBE in 1964 for his work with the NCB.
In 1965 Ross McLaren suffered a severe stroke and was compelled to retire. He died on 6 June 1975.
McLaren, R.S. Notes on thin seam mining in the USA Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 105 1945-46, 505-527, 626-631
McLaren, R.S. Notes on visits to coal mines in the United States of America. Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Collieries. 1945
McLaren, R.S. Presidential address [NEIMME]: Specialists in the coal-mining industry Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 118, 1958-59, 636-640
(Biographical notes drawn mainly from the Memoir in Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 134 1975-76, 578)