A pictorial history of Sparrows International Crane Hire
A pictorial history of Sparrows International Crane Hire
Welcome to Sparrows . . .
I created this website a number of years ago, but I’m guessing that I should introduce myself . . .
My name: Frank Sumsion.
Position within the company: former director of Sparrows Heavy Crane Division.

The first day I arrived at Sparrows in 1957 I felt at home . . . with the Sparrow brothers, Alf, George and Gordon; fellow employees and cranes . . .


Joining the company at such an early stage in its development was a help to me throughout my career with Sparrows. At those times it was very personal, working closely with the three brothers in areas in which they were already experts, such as vehicle recovery, machinery moving and, of course, operating the early mechanically-operated cranes, some of which were built by the brothers themselves, in their own workshop. 


It was learning the hard way. Those first cranes were extremely basic and, although not complicated to operate, it needed skill to make them function as a useful piece of lifting equipment. The brothers were capable and willing to pass on their expertise. 


Alf and his brothers had constructed three of their original machines and at that time were operating them themselves as and when required. They would never ask anyone to undertake a task that they could not do themselves. 


From those small beginnings and within a period of 30 years Sparrows were to build a company that was to become a world leader in cranes and heavy lifting. 


The company established depots throughout the United Kingdom and joint venture companies in Europe, America and the Middle East. Their cranes and engineering expertise was used on major construction projects around the globe.


Sparrows expanded its engineering division to complement the crane hire business to provide a specialist lifting service to the construction industry. They also entered the offshore industry, becoming one of the first companies in the world dedicated to the supply of crane operators and service engineers to the challenging working environment of the North Sea. 


From the small home-built cranes of 1948 and the late 1950’s with a maximum lifting capacity of 10-tons, the company would own and operate the first 1000-tonne capacity truck crane in the world. 


Throughout my own career I needed assistance and advice, and I am grateful to Alf, George and Gordon for giving me the opportunity to prove myself.


My thanks also go to my fellow directors, colleagues, crane operators and friends within the company who helped me along the way. 


The brothers’ philosophy was to promote from within wherever possible. I was one of the fortunate few chosen for promotion as the company progressed. It was 12 years before I became a sales representative and within four years I became managing director of Sparrows Heavy Crawler Cranes Ltd.


There were of course times when the going was tough but I can honestly say that there were very few days during my career, both as crane operator and member of staff, when I did not feel happy going to work. 


When I joined Sparrow’s, it was beyond my wildest dreams and, I am sure, beyond the wildest dreams of the Sparrow family, that the company would progress to its eventual size, suppling cranes and expertise, earning the respect of many of the largest construction companies in the world. 


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© Frank Sumsion