We have learnt of the passing of Arthur Arundel, who worked for many years at UK crane and excavator company Priestman, he was 96. We were informed of his passing by crane veteran Dick Lloyd, who provided the following obituary.
Arthur Arundel, who died on 12th June, spent most of his life working as UK southern area sales manager for Priestmans of Hull. He was a true gentleman for whom all of his customers had a great liking and respect. He was never a high pressure salesman, but he quickly earned his reputation as a man who kept his word and looked after the interests of his customers. To quote his grandson, Thomas: “He was brave beyond words, calm and good humoured under pressure, quietly confident of his ability to deal with all of life’s ups and downs and appreciative, sensitive and courteous to everyone whom he met.”
He was born in Hull in 1924, and at the outbreak of World War II, he volunteered to be a bicycle courier, before joining the Royal Navy as a radio operator on a frigate tasked with protecting Atlantic convoys, where he worried that, if the ship went down, he might be forgotten in his tiny isolated cabin, but he was re-assured by the words of one of the officers: “We will never forget you, Yorkie”.
At the end of the war, he joined Priestman as an apprentice, and the sales force at the end of his apprenticeship. His personal devotion to this long established manufacturer of cranes, grabs and excavators, founded in 1879, became his life, and he stayed with them until the Acrow group, of which they became a subsidiary in 1972, collapsed in 1984. He played football and hockey for the firm as a young man, and met his beloved wife, Mary, who also worked for Priestmans. In 1979, he was promoted to southern area sales manager. He moved south and lived there with his wife and family for the rest of his life. I joined Priestmans in 1970, when they were first taken over by Coles Cranes (Steel group), themselves being merged into Acrow two years later.
Acrow promoted me to the board, and I ran both home and export sales for six months until a UK sales director was found, and I got to know Arthur well and to appreciate his character and qualities. I witnessed the ill-judged attempt of a brash foul mouthed Hymac salesman trying to steal one of Arthur’s customers, a very religious man who neither drank alcohol nor smoked. He was thrown out of the customer’s office, followed by a phone call to the boss of Hymac saying that he only dealt with people whom he knew and trusted. After the collapse of Acrow, Arthur and I had a joint meeting with James Priestman, the erstwhile chairman dismissed by Coles Cranes (with support from the then MD, whose admiration for his father Philip did not extend to James), to try and raise funds to rescue them, but it sadly failed and both Arthur and I had to find alternative employment. Due to his reputation, Arthur was soon back in employment with a German firm who needed his experience in the UK market. I visited Arthur and Mary a few times after our respective retirements, but sadly not after he started to suffer from dementia in his later years. I feel very privileged to have been asked by his family to write this obituary.