Sovex Marshall

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During the 80's I used to do a lot of haulage for this Carlton / Colwick based firm, they manufactured large hydraulic scissor jacks and other types of conveyors (extending conveyors to go into air craft cargo holds and the backs of lorries being one of their specialities.)

Anyway another thing they used to manufacture was vacuum postal systems (Like they used to have in many department stores round the city). One weekend I was dispatched with a new system for the Department of Trade and Industry in Victoria in London, then I had to wait till Sunday before returning back with the old one, (Massive security precautions were in place at the time ,they even wanted my grand mothers maiden name on the form that I had to fill out about a week before the job ) I arrived at 11ish Saturday morning and proceded to unload the new system, when this was done I went up to 'the lads' who were on the 6th floor , I entered this big office ,really plush leather and a great big (The biggest I have ever seen) office chair at a massive desk in the centre of the room. Their apprentice was dispatched to Macdonalds for our lunch, on his return I grabbed the 'big' chair and with burger in one hand ,and the latest edition of Fiesta ,or Playboy, in the other enjoyed my lunch, when it was over we were reading these 'gentlemens' periodicals when some one sugested that one of us should ring one of these 0800 numbers (Which had just started to appear) I was the mug who did the said deed and put it on 'Conference' for all to here, when we got the shock of our lives cos a woman actually answered the phone. I hung up pretty darn quick, and one of the lads rang another one which this time was a recording ,then another was rung ,and another ,,and another, ETC , All the time using the phone of the head of the DTI, Sir Keith Joseph, So I would like to take this opportunity to publicly appologise to 'Sir' Keith for any embaressment we may have caused when he had to explain away his itemised telephone bill that must have been about £50

More to follow

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  • 8 months later...
  • 7 months later...


Many thanks to the guest who was reading this and therefore bumped it for me.

I was helping 'The lads' move an old telescopic conveyor belt (One that extend to the back of a lorry ),from one of Thorntons (Chocolate) sites to another near Belper Derbyshire .As I was there I was telling them how fast my new truck was, and if they were to give me a head start of just 2 minutes I would beat their 'Tranny' to the delivery point , (loaded or unloaded!!) I knew that the only place they would be able to get past was in the first couple of miles, as it was duel carriage way. Anyway the wager was agreed , (£1.00 ) and off I shot , only to see them in my rear view mirror with in 1 minute of departure (Cheating B45t4rd5) They were lagging back , and as the duel carriage way appeared they came flying past me, after the mile or so of duel carriage way I caught up with them again , sat at the side of the road with a cop car !!!!!

I got to the destination and un strapped my load and the crane had lifted it off, before they came in with their tails well and truelly between their legs!!

To make matters worse , the yard foreman had given me a large (And I mean LARGE) card board box full of Thorntons seconds before they turned up. I departed with said cargo, and my quid.

I told them about the chocolates a few weeks later, and to my amusement I was supposed to have shared them out with them , no body told me .............mmmmmmm!!

More to follow (And it wont be 1 year 4 months till the next installment!!)

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  • 1 year later...

OK just a short , (More me than them though!!)

I got collared by the boss of my haulage firm just as I was leaving for the weekend (Friday) All thirsty and ready for a bloody good swallow. And way he "Tells" (Not asks you'll notice) that I was working Saturday, and had to take "The two large hydraulic scissor ramps down to Sovex's fitters on site at the Kodak works in Harrow, North London" I had to be there for 7.30-8.00am so the lads could get them fitted before the night shift started meaning I would have to leave Nott'm by 5.00am ,IE , if I were going out for a drink I would have to knock it on the head early so as to be soberish to do the drive!! So I came up with the brilliant idea of setting off that night (Even though I had just got back from a long run somewhere else!!

So I shot off down to Harrow and found this big car park to stay in. Off out for a few Bevvy's ,Including finding, by complete fluke, the pub where "The Who" (As the" High Numbers") did their first gig,(The Railway) and where Townsend accidentally broke his guitar, which later became a staple part of their act!!

I digress, I went to the wagon to get my head down , only to find this car park was floodlit and I didn't have any curtains!! . Ah what the hell thought I , I'll find some where a bit darker , and drove down the road aways finally settling on this quiet little dark spot. I came to at around 7.15 am , hopped out to have Jimmy Riddle up the back wheel , before heading to Kodak for a proper set of ablutions!!

Duh , Duh , DERRR And there it was, my waggon only parked in Harrow Police station car park!!! taking up about a dozen parking spaces!! I managed to get out before any of the local plod could ask any awkward questions!!

More in about another year!!

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  • 1 year later...

I remember Sovex-Marshall. The Sovex part is still in business and operates out of The Wirrell. Their extending vehicle loaders (boom conveyors) were used in the making of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (the Johnny Depp version).

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A fine BUMP of a post , just in time for an annual tale of frolicks and high jinks al la Sovex Marshall.

I was once again tasked with hauling one of their large 'scissor jacks' , this time to "The Home Office on King Charles Street , Whitehall, Westminster, ( Cenotaph et al). The first task was to negotiate a very tight entrance gate designed and erected in the days before "Ford Cargos" I squeezed in ( a fag paper to spare each side) and found the entrance to the large impresive court yard, only to finally be defeates as this one was tighter than the first one at the junction with Parliament Street.

One of the security guards finally tracked down a tape measure (Didn't believe my critical eye) and proceded to measure the door way , then my wagon , to determine whether I could get in or not. When they finally decided (After 10 minutes (I kid you not) of adding and subtracting) that I wasn't going to get it through the archway entrance , they decided to ring for instructions !

Another fellow apppeared , this time with stripes on his arm, must be a good 'un this time thought I , !! He takes the tape measure and goes through the whole routine again, before he too agreed that I wasn't going to get in !

I asked if I could use their phone to ring my boss in Nottingham for further details (Yonks before mobiles came along) it took a bit of persuading to get them to let me into their 'domain' without 'signing in' , but eventually they relented and I was allowed to use their phone.

My boss (Not best happy at having to fork out some extra dosh to have it off loaded and then put onto another (Smaller) vehicle and finally driven through the gate , started to get all stroppy with me like it was my fault. so I handed him over to Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber to let them explain the problem and what needed to be done.

Another (Local) haulage firm were dispatched to come and swap it their flat bed transit and that would get it through the gap. I asked how they were goiung to unload it and reload it in the street , to which they tried the Eric Idle style of tapping the side of their noses with a "Say no more"type routine !!

After a couple of hours said flat bed transit turns up and I await to see what transpired . They got on the blower and a bloke came out with a fork lift truck !!! and proceeded to swap the load over , me with a look of total bemusement on my face.

"Whats the matter " said Tweedle Dumb

"Well without wishing to state the bleeding obvious, why didn't you just use the fork lift to take it off of my truck and into the building hours ago ?!"

"We're only allowed to unload in the street in emergencies"

"And so why were you allowed to off load me onto that other van then ? "

"Well we deemed it an emergency"

I got into my truck and after taking some valium I decided not to slash my wrists.

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  • 3 years later...

My best mate Steve(Stephen) Meakin was an employee at Sovex Marshall and he remembers that he and his crew installed a lot of cash tube systems in the larger TESCO stores around the country. After leaving Sovex he went to work for Air Tube.

He sends his regards to anyone who might know him.

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Think the Engineer will back me up on this if he remembers, but may have been before his time, Sovex Marshall installed all the parcel handling conveyors at the "New" mechanised parcel sorting office, Bath street/Brook street, and the same in Derby and Leicester SO.

I was a postal Tech then doing the electrical installation, one of Sovex's foreman actually taught me to electric weld during our lunch breaks, fish tank frames and sledges were then on our itinerary for our lunchtime production.

Some great blokes and times were had on that building and others for the PO.

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Installation at the Parcel Sorting Office was before my time but I had the pleasure of maintenance in mid to late 1970s. There were some Sovex Marshall conveyors in the Letter Sorting Office across the road that pre-dated the PSO ones.

Not absolutely sure but from what I heard, David Lindfield, a former employee at Sovex Marshall (quite high up at the time, probably director) left (or was pushed out). The business declined (not necessarily because of David's absence) and later folded. David bought the rights to the name and set up a new business called Sovex Systems, currently based in The Wirrel. He was initially MD but was promoted to Executive Chairman of Sovex Ltd. They specialise in extending boom conveyors (to reach inside 40' trailers) and modular line-shaft roller conveyors.

I was also told that when they were building that Parcel Sorting Office, engineers (probably including banjo48?) used to have 'snowball' fights with blue asbestos (obviously before the dangers were fully understood). One of the engineering managers died of asbestosis several years later.

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