Wednesday, 13 July 2011

ERF SERVICE 1971 - 2000

For some reason, there's something nostalgic about big electric signs which glow reassuringly in the darkest of nights. Many people in Manchester got very upset in 2010 when ITV took down the famous GRANADA TV sign which had been on top of their building since the 1950s.
Well here's a Middlewich example, which was  removed a long time ago. The ERF Service Centre was opened in 1971 on part of the land once occupied by the ICI. From memory, I think most of this part of the site was full of railway sidings in ICI days. ERF Service was in existence for nearly thirty years and had the dubious pleasure of my company for 27 of those years. I started work at the company in 1974, and one of the first things I did was take this picture. I wonder if they thought I was some kind of industrial spy? The buildings are still there, looking bland and anonymous. Does anyone know who uses them now?

    • Note that, even as early as 1974 fuel tanks were being stored outside due to the chronic lack of space. Rust, what rust? The Centre was extended several times to try to cope. Fuel tanks were eventually stored high up in the roof of the building, as part of the company's policy of making heavy and unwieldy spares as difficult as possible to retrieve when needed.

    • To the left are a couple of the old 'A' Series cabs. These fibre-glass cabs were still being made in 1974. The 'B' series plastic cabs came along shortly afterwards.

      In the year 2000 ERF closed its 'Sun Works' in Sandbach and the Middlewich Service Centre and moved operations to a new 'factory' in ERF Way, off Pochin Way, in Middlewich. The new building was in no way suitable as a truck factory and it wasn't long before the company's new owners, MAN Trucks, announced that production of ERF Trucks in Britain was to cease.
      The announcement of the closure of the Middlewich 'Truck plant' came on, of all days, September 11th 2001, when the attention of the world was elsewhere.
      Production struggled on for a few more years in Germany, but eventually, on 23rd July 2007, MAN announced that ERF was no more.

      This photo was first published on Facebook on 20th May 2011. The original Facebook Feedback is below:

      • Ian Murfitt 

        Not Totally related but One ERF loss that I mourn is the training centre by the canal. The trees along the canal from the Kings Lock car park to the winding hole, were planted by a genius. Each tree had a different colour leaf and different colour blossom and fruit and the leaves turned different colours in the autumn I can't imagine that this was just good luck. I frequently walked down there. The centre itself became an eyesore and a hang out for local undesirables who went onto the moorings causing damage, so the centre was knocked down, but why most of the trees had to go is beyond me.

        20 May at 10:35 · 

      • Dave Roberts 

        Yes, the training centre was in one corner of the site, close to a gate which opened onto the King's Lock car park. Unfortunately this gate was always locked thus making a long hike necessary if one wanted a lunch time pint. I got myself crossed off the training centre's Christmas card list by driving a heavy fork-lift truck into the middle of their nice posh lawn and getting it stuck there. We had to get a tractor to retrieve it. I wasn't ERF's best fork-lift driver. Then again, nor was I the worst, by a long chalk.

        20 May at 11:05 · 

      • Ian Murfitt 

        The fence in that corner was cut and re attached with bits of wire so workers could crawl through. Latterly it grew a sign which read,"Next time you come to work this way, will be the last time you come to work!" The ground adjacent to the winding hole was once a dry dock with a cottage beside it. I rented this area for years as a garden. We dug up loads of interesting things as it was the custom to bury rubbish in those days. Later it transpired that the ground actually belonged to ERF, not British Waterways, and it was sold, the fence was moved towards the canal and it became a used car lot.

        See also: STRANGE VISITOR
                        ERF BADGES

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