Legend has it that Richard Hebron Patterson’s Newcastle upon Tyne firm built the crane that put together the two halves of the city’s iconic Tyne bridge before it was exported to Australia to help build the Sydney harbour bridge. In 1926 the former mining-equipment maker caught the eye of Ford bosses, who were touring Britain offering franchises. Today RH Patterson is one of the largest Ford dealers in the northeast of England, selling 15,000 cars and commercial vehicles a year. The company had sales of £247.2m in 2006.
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