Norman Cryer 1974


Norman Cryer was born and educated in Sunderland, England. After four years' practical training in worsted spinning at Jones Sharp and Sons (1924-1927) in Yorkshire, England, he attended Leeds University for three years and obtained the Diploma in Textile Industries in 1930. During this period he passed the final examinations of the City and Guilds in Worsted Yarn Manufacture, Woollen Yarn Manufacture and the final sections of Woollen and Worsted Weaving and was awarded the City and Guilds Textile Diploma in Woollen and Worsted Manufacture.

In 1931 he was awarded the Worshipful Company of Wool-men's Certificate of Merit for research work relating to the variation in spindle speed (spinning) carried out under the guidance of the late Professor W. T. Astbury. In 1932 he was elected an Associate of the Textile Institute (ATI) and in 1956 a fellow (FTI).

After leaving the university he joined the firm of Montague Burton (1930-1937), multiple tailors, which was one of the first firms in England to test and control the quality of the textile materials used in their factories. Here he assisted in the development of the testing and quality control laboratory. During this time he held various assignments as a part-time lecturer at the University of Leeds, Leeds College of the textile laboratory (1938-1941).

During the Second World War he joined Harrods as technical adviser on textile merchandise and head of the textile laboratory (1938-1941). During the Second World War he was attached to the Ministry of Supply (Directorate of Clothing and Textiles) in Manchester, in connection with the production of cotton textiles. He was later responsible for the planning of cotton textile production for the armed forces and military relief in Burma and Malaya. In 1945 he travelled to Italy as a member of a supply mission under the leadership of Lt General Wrisberg.

In 1947 he joined the South African Bureau of Standards to initiate its textile and clothing activities. In 1966 he was appointed Director of the Fibre Technology Department which comprises three textile divisions as well as a clothing division, a paper division and a timber division. At the end of 1972 he retired as Director, and from the beginning of 1973 he has been technical adviser to the clothing and textile divisions.

Mr Cryer's term with the Bureau coincided with the foundation and development of the textile spinning and weaving industries in South Africa and also with a vast expansion of the clothing and knitting industries. His technical knowledge of the spinning and weaving industries and his experience in the clothing industry in England enabled him to be of great assistance in resolving the inevitable teething troubles such as the clothing manufacturers' initial dissatisfaction with the quality of the products.

Specifications for textile products had to be of a standard high enough to assure satisfactory quality, but at the same time they had to be within the capabilities of the infant textile industry. His detailed knowledge and very high degree of diplomacy and patience as chairman of technical committees which had to draw up such specifications contributed in no small measure to the Bureau's high reputation in the textile sector of the economy.

Mr Cryer represented South Africa at several overseas conferences, namely the Commonwealth Defence Conference on clothing and general stores in Australia (1960) and various meetings of the International Organization for Standardization, Technical Committee for Textiles. In 1970 and 1972 he was chairman at meetings, in London and Paris respectively, of the technical committee for sizing systems and designations for clothes, the secretariat of which is held by South Africa.

These multilingual conferences, with delegates from five continents, called for able chairmanship, and the progress made was in large measure achieved through Mr Cryer's competence and his close acquaintance with the subject before the committee.

Care labelling and garment size nomenclature are subjects on which Mr Cryer is recognized as an international authority. Mr Cryer is chairman of the International Committee on size designations and sizing systems for clothes. The secretariat of this committee is the South African Bureau of Standards which carried out research on garment sizing under Mr Cryer's guidance. As chairman at a series of meetings with manufacturers on the problem of metrication of clothing sizes, Mr Cryer secured general acceptance of a scheme for metrication. He was also elected first chairman of the South African Advisory Committee to the Textile Institute on its foundation in 1972.

Under his leadership the Textile and Clothing Divisions of the Bureau drew up over ninety standard specifications and codes of practice and over fifty CKS specifications.

Besides being a Fellow of the Textile Institute, he is a senior member of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. In 1970 he was awarded the Textile Institute medal for distinguished services to both the Textile Institute and industry.

The Council and Senate of the University of Port Elizabeth regard it a privilege to honour Mr Cryer by the award of the degree of Doctor Scientiae in Technologia Textili, honoris causa.