R E Carter

In 1938 Mr R E Carter (Bob), the son of the founder, joined the firm as an apprentice carpenter. Unfortunately his early career was interrupted, as his father’s had been, by the outbreak of war.

Bob Carter returned in 1946 and, after completing his apprenticeship, took a correspondence course in quantity surveying. He then started work in the offices at Drayton, which had moved from Low Road to larger purpose-built premises in the High Road where R G Carter Ltd remains to this day.

By 1950, in order to ensure the continuation of the business, Bob Carter was actively running the company as managing director.

In the early 50s, under Bob Carter’s leadership, the company exhibited a greater maturity and professionalism and business began to boom. By the mid-1950s, R G Carter had become the largest building firm in Norfolk. Subsidiaries included Bullen’s, Fishers, Blackburn’s and Drayton Stone Pits; 850 men were employed at Drayton, and 2,000 throughout the Group.

Bob Carter became chairman of the company after his father passed away in 1966 at the age of 74. Bob was described as a perfect gentleman. Although not enjoying the best of health, he had a supreme sense of duty and a determination to uphold standards.

As managing director he possessed the vision and foresight to drive the business forward, enabling it to execute contracts larger and more complex than any it had previously handled and eventually to expand not only into a wider geographical area but also into other activities related to construction.

Under Bob Carter’s chairmanship, the Group grew rapidly. Between 1966 and the Group’s golden anniversary in 1971, turnover doubled to £15.3 million and the workforce rose to 3,000.

Since the Group was carrying out more and more multi-million pound contracts, Bob Carter realised much more emphasis needed to be placed on financial monitoring. In particular, he recognised that surveying was becoming increasingly important in this context.

One of Bob Carter’s ambitions was to initiate a more formal scheme of training within the Group which would provide greater opportunities for more people. He believed better training would increase efficiency which in itself would create growth and would also stimulate individual effort by enhancing the prospects of promotion.

He introduced a training scheme at Drayton to improve the standard of apprentices. Bricklaying was the first trade to become part of the scheme and young bricklayers spent three months on site, training with a general foreman.

In October 1969 the Group Training Centre was opened at the premises in Low Road, Drayton, where the Group had started life in 1921 and remained in existence until August 1976 when it was superseded by the new CITB training centre in Norwich.

Bob Carter died on 21 October 1974, aged 51, following heart surgery, from which he never recovered. He left a widow, Mary, and four children: sons Robert George, (named after his grandfather), and John, and daughters Jane and Louise. At his funeral service, held in St Margaret’s Church, Drayton, the Bishop of Lynn, the Right Reverend Aubrey Aitkin, a family friend, described him as ‘a man of Norwich and Norfolk’.

More than 2,500 people attended his memorial service in Norwich Cathedral a few days later.