Revisit the industrial heritage in the heart of Norfolk
- Credit: Archant Library
Trailers, vehicles and containers built by this historic mid-Norfolk firm wound their way across the world – and today we are revisiting the Crane Fruehauf factory in Dereham where many of them were built.
But this story begins with an industrious gentleman living in Norfolk in the 19th century.
In 1865 William Crane established a blacksmith’s business at Great Fransham, six miles west of Dereham.
Mr Crane struck out by making velocipedes – iron and wooden bicycles without springs, earning them the nickname ‘boneshakers’.
He went on to develop a revolutionary new type of horse-rake, eventually adding wheelwright, timber merchant and wagon building services to his roster.
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After his death in 1913, Mr Crane’s two sons took over his business and opened a branch works in Dereham.
Between 1939-1945, Cranes (Dereham) Ltd. built 3,204 vehicles and 250 tank transporters for the Armed Forces.
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In 1961 Cranes partnered with US-based Fruehauf International Ltd. to become Crane Fruehauf Trailers Ltd - expanding their Norfolk operations with a new factory in North Walsham as well.
From the 1980s, international competition and changes in global logistics put pressure on companies like Crane Fruehauf and operations in Dereham eventually closed down in 2003.
Please enjoy these old photos of Crane Fruehauf factory facilities from the EDP archive – you might even recognise yourself or someone you know in them.