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14th October 2020


Robert Spendlove


45 years ago in 1975, cinema-goers would never look at the sea in the same way again as blockbuster Jaws terrified audiences around the world. In the UK pop charts, the Bay City Rollers had the bestselling single of the year with Bye Bye Baby. It was also a year of huge political and historical significance, with the Vietnam War coming to an end and Margaret Thatcher becoming the leader of the Conservative Party.

In sport, Derby County won their second league title of the decade. Elsewhere in Derby that year, Heavy Cranes engineer Robert Spendlove began his career with Ainscough Crane Hire. A proud Derbyshire man and from a farming background, Robert was hired by Bowmer and Kirkland Plant Limited on the basis of his reputation of being a dab hand at engineering work on tractors.

Bowmer & Kirkland Plant Limited was acquired by Grayston, White and Sparrow (GWS), which was taken over by Ainscough Crane Hire in 2000. Robert has maintained continuous employment through these mergers and acquisitions, eventually developing a particular aptitude for the use of electronics on cranes.

“In the early days there were virtually no electronics on cranes,” says Robert. “Slowly, they started coming through. I took an interest in that and it developed to a point where anything of substance electronically I got involved with and it grew from there. As time went by and the technology got more complex my involvement increased, and it got to the point where I’d assume full responsibility for electrics and Safe Load Indicators.

“I took up that position and it involved me travelling all across the country and abroad. My role expanded to incorporate mechanical and hydraulic diagnostic troubleshooting. Along the way, I met wonderful people and worked on some very interesting projects with fascinating challenges to overcome.”

Following the best part of five decades of exceptional service, Robert has decided to retire at the end of November and will begin an exciting new project that will take him back to where it all began.

“I was born on a farm and I’m from a long line of farmers that goes back generations,” says Robert. “I’m now retiring from the crane industry to return to my roots. I have land and buildings that I have acquired over the years which I intend to farm, and with some of the buildings I own, I intend to develop as a project with my son.

“I would like to pay tribute and give thanks to my wife Ann and children Richard and Rachael for their patience and endurance over the years. To do this job to the standard required you have to be dedicated and get out on the road at the drop of a hat. If someone has called I have always responded. That’s not always been easy for my family and often days out and trips have had to be cancelled at the last minute. However, they understood that was the nature of my job and they have been a great support to me in my career. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family – including my grandchildren – in retirement.”

As Robert prepares to draw the curtain on his long and illustrious career, he has invaluable advice for the next generation of crane professionals and engineers: “I would say to anyone coming into the industry, always take great pride in your work and always work to a high standard. It’s absolutely crucial to listen to the advice and learn from the advice of respected people.

“I am well known in crane engineering for my saying of ‘Never assume, and always start with the basics!’ That’s my motto and it’s served me well for all these years – the future of the crane industry will be in safe hands if everyone follows that!”

This commitment to high standards and professionalism has resulted in Robert being a key part of the successful delivery of many complex Ainscough projects. It’s difficult for him to choose a particular highlight, but the rebuild of Ainscough’s 1000t crane stands out as a source of pride.

“That was a real standout job,” says Robert “It was totally stripped down – the cabs and electricals were stripped off and refurbished. Yet we did it in a relatively short window and were able to get it quickly operational again. The 1000t is Ainscough’s prestige, flagship machine and to contribute to its restoration was really something.”

Graham Weights, Ainscough’s head of engineering, paid tribute to his colleague and friend: “First and foremost, Robert is an exceptional person. He will be missed for his personality and presence on-site, but also as an outstanding employee and engineer. At a time when it’s so crucial to support the next generation into the industry, Robert serves as a real benchmark for any aspiring crane mechanic or engineer. Ainscough has been lucky to have him as part of our team for all this time.

“On behalf of everyone at Ainscough, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Robert for everything he’s done for our company, and for helping our maintenance and engineering team be the best in the business. There are many exciting times ahead for him in retirement, and we look forward to hearing all about it.”

“There are many things I will miss at Ainscough,” says Robert. “But most of all it will be my colleagues and friends I’ve made over the years – a marvellous bunch. I must say, Ainscough has been a really great company to work for – hence the many years of service! I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ainscough and all my friends and colleagues for making my career at Ainscough something that I will look back on with fond and happy memories. ”

Everyone at Ainscough Crane Hire would like to show our appreciation to Robert for all he has done for the business, and to wish him good luck for his retirement. Thank you, Robert!

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