Uckfield firm celebrates 80th anniversary

Uckfield firm C J Thorne & Co is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

The civil engineers, who are based at Union Point in Ridgewood, started as a two-lorry haulage firm, based in Eastbourne.

The founder was Charles James Thorne, known as CJ, and it grew rapidly to become a maintenance depot. The acquisition of plant and equipment saw the introduction of the earth-moving side of the business.

CJ Thorne staff pictured at an awards ceremony.

CJ’s grandson, Chris Thorne, managing director of C J Thorne & Co said: “Around that time the local authorities were awarding contracts for such things as school playing fields, and the company soon established a reputation for having skilled plant operators, and equipment, such as bulldozers and excavators.”

As the business continued to expand, a contact of CJ’s at Ealing Studios commissioned him to build replicas of snow sledges used by Scott of the Antarctic in 1912 for a film to be made with John Mills.

The company went on to supply much of the military equipment for further movies, such as Ice Cold in Alex, The Heroes of Telemark and Dunkirk.

The replica of Scott’s snow sledge built by C J Thorne for use in a film starring John Mills.

In the late 1940s the company built its current offices on land, which was previously an old brick yard, in Eastbourne Road.

The business continues to grow and diversify while remaining a family firm. It now employs more than 120 permanent staff and is always looking forward and investing heavily in training and development with particular emphasis on health and safety.

Chris said: “We believe our teamwork ethos is a key factor in our success. In fact, we know it’s one of the reasons we have gained a number of prestigious industry awards over the years.”


The company’s 80th year was a bumper one for awards. In September they won Best Construction Project Award at the South East Construction Awards ceremony for a spillway project at Bayham Lake in Kent.

On the same evening, at a separate event, the East Sussex Business Awards, they won two awards, Outstanding Team of the Year and Overall Business of the Year. Then they won a community award for Give Back to the Community.


CJ Thorne has supported the community for many years, providing the Christmas tree for Uckfield, transporting it to its place by NatWest Bank and providing trucks for various community groups to decorate for Uckfield Carnival.

In addition they sponsor events such as the Uckfield Business Awards, local charities, am-dram organisations and local sports clubs.

Chris said: “As a local family business that has gone from strength to strength over the past eight decades, these things are our way of giving back. So thank you to all the Thorne employees who are a part of this vibrant team effort.”

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