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In memory of Hugh Morris

Hugh Morris, otherwise known as “Hughy”, a former CICA Life member and president of the Victorian Crane Association sadly passed away on 22 April 2019.

Hugh Morris, former CICA Life member and president of the Victorian Crane Association sadly passes.

We wish to honour the life of Hugh Anthony Morris, who sadly passed away on 22 April 2019. Hugh was a former Life Member and President of the Victorian Crane Association, Board Member of CICA and one of the few Con Popov Medal recipients, awarded to him by industry in 2006.

Hugh Anthony Morris otherwise known as “Hughy” was born on 30 January 1943 in Queenscliff, Victoria. At the time, his father was stationed in New Guinea, so Hugh’s birth announcement was relayed via Morse code.

Hugh grew up in Melbourne, attending RMIT where he graduated with a Diploma in Building Construction.  Upon completing his studies, Hugh joined his brother Tom as 3rd generation members of the family construction business TW Morris & Son, Master Builders.  Hugh went on to secure his domestic and commercial building licences and worked alongside his brother Tom for almost 40 years, forging strong bonds and a successful company.

While Hugh had a desire to build, he discovered his real passion after purchasing a nine-tonne crane, the CAP LS20. Telescopic booms were “the latest and greatest” in 1973, and this crane proved ideal for their needs, as it was purchased for the construction of the Gorilla Enclosure at the Melbourne Zoo to move materials over the moat. This was a project Hugh was enormously proud of, with the Morris name visible on a plaque for many years at the Zoo.  Following completion of the enclosure, they decided to hire the crane to the Melbourne Board of Works, where they secured a 6-week rental.

The brothers soon discovered the demand was outstripping their ability to supply. With this, Conmor was born and additional cranes acquired. The name Conmor, was derived from CONstruction and MORris, and while originally established as a joinery firm to support the building company; it soon became a leading player in the Melbourne crane market.

Conmor expanded through the 1980s and worked alongside the TW Morris building company. They had a strong focus on precast concrete installation; and several key cranes were acquired along the way. From the Grove TM1500 to the Coles Colossus 6000, which Hugh and Tom acquired from the Hobart Marine Board.

Hugh was a firm believer in the Coles, and always noted this was one of the company’s most successful cranes. Its first job involved many months on the Southgate Towers in Melbourne, with some of its final works with the company; installing the Melbourne Gateway “Cheesestick” and placement of beams on the Exhibition Street Extension in the early 2000s – not bad for a crane built in the 1970s.

By the 2000s, Conmor Cranes had grown to be a leading business, peaking at around 40 cranes. Hugh and Tom opted to sell the business to BOOM Logistics in 2002, at the time Hugh also sold his share of the Latrobe Valley business, Heavy Lift Cranes.

Throughout his career, Hugh loved devising the methodologies for complicated lifts, and working out a way to perform them with his own fleet. A pivotal project was the raising of the MacRobertson Rd Bridge over the Monash Freeway in Melbourne, a project for which Hugh won an industry award; and managed to find a way to use most of his key fleet.

With the Conmor business well known for pre-cast concrete installations, Hugh was considered a pioneer in this sector. He went on to become a key member of the Committee that developed the Pre-cast Code of Practice for the industry.  During his career, Hugh contributed tirelessly to the industry spending many years supporting both CICA and the VCA (prior to the One Association Program). Hugh was one of the original participants of the CraneSafe Program and the Conmor fleet became part of this pivotal inspection regime.

In the space of 30 years, the Conmor business had grown not only in the industry, but also as in Hugh’s heart – this business brought him great enjoyment. From a young age, Hugh’s three sons Simon, Antony and Nick spent many days in the yard and out on sites, sharing a passion for cranes and building with Hugh.

Outside of cranes, Hugh had a passion for family and sailing. His boys have fond memories of weekends with dad, whether it be looking at cranes on a building site, or at the beach.

Hugh was regarded as a pioneer and a true gentleman who contributed significantly to the industry and association in many. Our deepest sympathies go to his wife Ann, three sons Simon, Antony, Nick, brother Tom and sister Susan, and their families.

Vale Hugh Morris (30/01/1943 – 22/04/2019)

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