Jack White: Norwich transport specialist left his mark on the city

Haulage contractor and heavy lift specialist, Jack White, who has died peacefully aged 82, left his mark on his native Norwich.

His cranes moved massive machinery into place at the city's chocolate factories and a fleet of lorries moved outsize loads across Britain and Europe.

His Abbey Transport business, based at Concorde Road, Norwich, was an acknowledged leader in the field with a fleet of eight cranes, eight heavy-duty lift trucks and a dozen lorries and low-loaders, each bearing the distinctive 'ABY' plate.

Jack White, who was born in Mount Pleasant on May 2, 1929, was one of six children of a well-known Norwich businessman, went to St Augustine's School and then Alderman Jex.

He took on a virtually dormant London-based furniture removal firm, Abbey Transport, in the early 1960s. Crucially, in the then heavily-regulated transport industry, it had an official commercial operating licence, which could be transferred to Norfolk.

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With his brother, Kenny, who died about 30 years ago, and his wife, Naomi, they expanded the business and concentrated on cranes and transport. It is now headed by his middle son, Richard, with daughters Suzanne and Kathryn. Another brother took on the White's Wastepaper recycling business, now based at Ketteringham, near Wymondham.

Abbey Transport invested in cranes to install big machinery, which often had to be transported by special lorries. He craned the pre-cast concrete slabs for the building of the former Norwich Central Library.

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In 1970, Mr White installed the Bernard Meadows bronze, entitled Public Sculpture, at the EDP's Norwich headquarters at Prospect House for a total fee of �98, which included moving the casting from Ipswich. He also lifted the wrought-iron bridge at the entrance of the Castle Mall into place.

His heavy-duty transport business included moving yachts and cruisers for clients including Colin Chapman, of Lotus Cars, who built boats at Hethel.

A request to move a 90ft long, 104-tonne vessel from Wroxham to Southampton was just one of many typical jobs.

He always led from the front and would be the first to take the controls – especially if the contract was particularly challenging. Although he had stepped back from active involvement in the past dozen years, he insisted on following closely every aspect of the business.

He married Naomi more than 52 years ago. He lived for the business, often working seven days a week, and was always more comfortable in the cab than sitting in the board room.

He leaves six children, John, Jane, Suzanne, Richard, Patrick and Kathryn and nine grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at St Faith's Crematorium, on Thursday, June 16 at 10.15am.

Michael Pollitt

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