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Engineering firm to close in March

PUBLISHED: 14:00 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 14:49 07 July 2010

A long-established Norfolk engineering and fabrication business is set to close in the New Year after failing to find a buyer.

George Pope set up his Wensum Engineering business in a shed on company's present site on the outskirts of Fakenham in 1975 after taking voluntary redundancy from his post of engineering manager at the former Ross Frozen Foods factory in the town.

A long-established Norfolk engineering and fabrication business is set to close in the New Year after failing to find a buyer.

George Pope set up his Wensum Engineering business in a shed on company's present site on the outskirts of Fakenham in 1975 after taking voluntary redundancy from his post of engineering manager at the former Ross Frozen Foods factory in the town.

More than 30 years on and Mr Pope still doesn't use a computer, preferring to sketch his designs for a customer's specification on a pad on the desk in his tiny office. He admits to owning a mobile phone but days it is hardly ever charged up.

Over the years, through sheer hard work and long hours, Mr Pope built up his company so that there were 16 people on the payroll with his wife, Brenda, helping with the paperwork and his daughter, Sharon Allen, working in the office. His son Stephen was also previously involved in the firm.

Although there has been interest from potential buyers, there have been no serious offers and Mr Pope feels that he will finally make his eight-strong workforce redundant and close the doors in March.

He admits that when he set up on his own it was quite a gamble because the country was, as now, in recession. He recalls his first customer was the late Harry Palmer who farmed at Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham.

Over the years Mr Pope built up order book giving the firm a £1 million annual turnover.

The firm has been involved in a wide variety of work and some of its decorative wrought-iron railings now adorn London parks and are in hotels and homes at locations overseas.

“I have been fortunate that I have had a good, loyal customer base and know many of my customers as friends. I have also been lucky in having a reliable staff, especially when I served for 25 years as a retained fireman at Fakenham,” he said.

He added : “It will be a wrench when I finally shut up shop, but I have had some good support from the local business community.”

Mr Pope is continuing to take orders as normal but unless a sale is forthcoming in the next few weeks the doors will finally close in March next year.

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