Eric C Sorrell (1923 – 2007)
Eric Sorrell was born in Islington in 1923, and joined the Company on 4th January 1937 as a 14 year old apprentice. He started working at our premises in Mulberry Place off Goswell Road in London, his cousin being Charlie Sweetman [Herberts 1928 – 1971]. He lived in Stoke Newington, and remembers the 1937 bus strike when he roller-skated from his home to Goswell Road and back.
The Company moved to a new factory in Edmonton in 1938 and Eric usually took a tram or trolley bus to the Angel, Edmonton and walked up to the factory in Angel Road. He earned 11/7d for 48 hours. Too young for war service in 1939 he joined the National Fire Service and subsequently for a period the Home Guard – "Dad’s Army”. During this time his scalemaking job changed mainly to war work, one of Eric’s tasks being to hone down Bren Gun gauges. The working week was 60 hours, and he then did firewatching at weekends, 5/- for a Saturday.
He was on fire watching duty during a number of raids on London and one in particular when incendiaries fell on our premises, fortunately they were extinguished. However the Gadson factory opposite us, which made tools such as spades and shovels, was completely destroyed.
In 1943 he joined the Royal Artillery, serving as a motorcycle despatch rider on a BSA Matchless bike on which he covered over 25,000 miles. Eric landed on the Normandy beaches on D+1 - the day after D-Day - and from there went up through Calais and via the Falaise Gap to Emden, where he was when the war ended.
Being a despatch rider with few accurate maps and with a blackout at night was a hazardous occupation. On one occasion, Eric was only saved from driving into enemy territory by a group of soldiers who flagged him down when he was but a few hundred yards from the German lines.
He met and married his wife Zena during the war whilst she was serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
After being demobbed, Eric rejoined Herberts and remained with us for the rest of his working life.
Eric is pictured here (right) with Wally Phillips (left) and Fred Pennell (centre) enjoying a break during the servicing of a weighbridge at Thomas Tyrer & Co. Ltd. at the Stirling Chemical Works in Stratford in 1948.
Eric was a first class scalemaker with a great pride in the products which he assembled and adjusted up to weigh to great accuracy. In 1962 he returned to Germany, this time for two weeks learning about a range of August Sauter industrial scales which we had decided to sell in the UK. He successfully moved on to electronic scales in the 1980s and helped in the production of many thousands of our first models such as the Monarch and the Lion 2000.
A man of many parts he was a keen scout, involved with Zena in Amateur Dramatics, was Chairman of the Leiston Community Centre (pictured right) and for many years was a member of our Social Committee, Works Liaison Committee and M.C. at our annual Christmas parties.
Eric retired in December 1986, but continued to pop in from time to time to check on our progess.
Eric Sorrell died peacefully in December 2007 at the age of 84 at his care home in Linton.