Smallest order takes mammoth journey

Robson engineers (l-r) Keith Oxley, Gary Monk, Ryan Whitingham and Roy Carnell, with the carousel bound for St Helena
Robson engineers (l-r) Keith Oxley, Gary Monk, Ryan Whitingham and Roy Carnell, with the carousel bound for St Helena
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Materials handling specialist Geo Robson has dispatched one of the smallest baggage reclaim carousels the Darnall company has ever manufactured.

Coleford Road-based Robson says that, with a perimeter of 12 metres, the carousel could easily fit into a living room and is a fraction of the size of the baggage handling equipment it installs at major airports and seaports worldwide, including Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick, in the UK.

This carousel, however, is destined to serve travellers arriving at the tiny island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. The island, which is a British Overseas Territory, is just 10 miles long and five miles wide.

It can be found 1,200 miles off the west coast of southern Africa, nearly 4,800 miles from Sheffield, and is home to 4,200 people, which Robson reckons is about half of the population of Darnall.

At present, getting to the island usually involves taking an Air Seychelles flight from RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, which is not only the largest RAF station and the main airport used for sending troops worldwide, but is also the airport for commercial flights to Ascension Island.

From there, it is a three-day boat trip to St Helena, but the Saints – as the locals are called – have high hopes of building an airport – which could mean more businesses for Robson.

Robson’s carousel is taking a different route, however. It has been sent to Cape Town, in South Africa, by cargo ship and will reach the island on RMS St Helena, one of only two surviving ocean-going vessels to carry the title Royal Mail Ship.

Robson’s order isn’t the only connection established between Sheffield and St Helena this year.

Before the summer, young accountants Leanne Fisher and Rhea Ingram, from Grant Thornton’s Sheffield office, made the journey to St Helena to check the books of the firm’s most remote audit client, Solomon and Company, which was founded not long before Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled on the island in the early 1800s and runs most of the commercial activity on the island.