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Berrick, Norman David (1904–1970)

by L. E. Fredman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Norman David Berrick (1904-1970), metallurgist, was born on 28 December 1904 at West Maitland, New South Wales, second son of Jewish parents George Edward Berrick, an accountant from Melbourne, and his wife Amy Florence, née Friedman, a Sydneysider. George became a well-known wine and spirits merchant at Newcastle.

Joining the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd in 1920, Norman attended Newcastle Technical College at night and in 1926 obtained a diploma in metallurgy. On 5 November 1932 he married a kindergarten teacher Ré Miriam Heymanson (d.1932) at the Synagogue, Toorak Road, Melbourne. Employed from 1934 by the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd, in 1936 he developed from his own research a rod, 'Cobalide One', claimed as the first hard-facing alloy using chromium carbide for its strength. He married a nurse Dorothy Fern Bennett on 9 June 1939 at the Presbyterian Church, Mosman, Sydney, and from 1941 worked for the Ministry of Munitions.

Moving to Sydney by 1945, Berrick registered his company, Cobalide (Industrial) Pty Ltd, and began manufacturing next year; a site at Alexandria was acquired for an office and factory in 1951. The company produced specialized alloys in the form of welding electrodes and rods for hard-facing metals under the names of Cobalide and Cobalarc. By strengthening the surfaces that received heavy wear on earth-moving equipment, drill bits and valves, the process saved costly replacements. The firm also produced casting, wires and powders, as well as technical handbooks for its customers, and introduced electrodes with larger diameters and moisture-proof flux coatings. Berrick's brother, Alan, was involved as commercial manager.

As managing director, Norman displayed innovation, energy and personal involvement in overseas markets and research. He was a member of a trade mission to the Far East in 1954 and received a gold medal in 1956 for a paper presented to the South African Institute of Welding; he combined lectures and factory visits during his numerous trips. In 1963 the Commonwealth government presented the company with an award for outstanding export achievement. By then the largest manufacturer of hard-facings in the southern hemisphere, the firm exported three-fifths of its products for use in thirty countries, ranging from bridge-building in Scotland to tin-dredging in Malaysia, while also making Australia self-sufficient in these materials. British Oxygen Co. Ltd, an overseas distributor which held a controlling interest in the company, sold it in 1967 to a subsidiary, Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd. Berrick resigned next year due to ill health.

Of middle height and medium build, carefully groomed and a pipe-smoker, he had a good voice and enjoyed singing, like other members of his family. Civic-minded, in 1966 he anonymously donated over $14,000 for a bus turn-around at the Hunters Hill wharf, near his home. Berrick died of pneumonia on 8 March 1970 at Mosman and was cremated. His wife, their two daughters and their son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd, Comwelder, no 66, Apr-May 1970
  • Argus (Melbourne), 17 Nov 1932
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Jan 1957, 29 Mar 1967
  • Newcastle Morning Herald, 14 Mar 1970
  • private information.

Citation details

L. E. Fredman, 'Berrick, Norman David (1904–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/berrick-norman-david-9495/text16709, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 18 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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