Essex firms reap £120 million as Construction Giant turns 150

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Firms in Essex have secured orders worth £120 million over the past 20 years – all through one construction firm.

BAM Construction, part of the worldwide Royal BAM Group, which is 150 years old this year, tracked the orders in the 20 years since 1999. But the firm’s work in the county of Essex actually dates back to 1879! The company was established just 10 years before that, making it one of the UK’s oldest construction firms.

Adam Harding, BAM Construction’s regional director for the South East, said:

“This year we completed a multi-storey car park for Stansted Airport, and it made us reflect about what other schemes we might have delivered across Essex. We had to re-discover lost archives and it took us months to do it.

“We found over 30 schemes dating back to when we built the War Office in Waltham Abbey for the Government in 1879, exactly 140 years ago.

“That job was priced at £12,400. Today, that’s something like £2 million. It isn’t just the money that’s changed of course. Our business is unrecognisable now – we are cleaner, safer, and highly technological.

“When we began, our materials moved around by horse and cart. Now we have drone pilots and virtual reality engineers. But construction has always been about people – collaborative relationships between designers, engineers, clients and sub-contractors.

“And that’s one reason we value the firms with whom we have placed those orders. Our supply chain in Essex has exported its skills across the UK. We score them on every aspect of what they do from quality and sustainability through to their attitude. And we pick the best – because it is how well you work with others that makes the critical difference.”

Apart from the War Office, BAM’s track record includes two major bypass roads, shopping centres in Harlow, factories for BOC, and neuroscience research buildings for Merck, Sharp and Dohme – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The company also created the Sklan factory in Harold Hill, which made heirloom furniture including miniatures. Adam and his team found a fascinating archive video clip of this happening (see link below) on YouTube made by British Pathe. The construction of the factory cost £120,000 in 1954 – which would be comfortably over £3.5 million today.

More recently, BAM created the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre and the (then) new HQ for former financial giant Access, both in Basildon. Just a few years ago it handed over Harlow University Technical College (UTC), having built more UTC buildings than any other contractor in the UK.

“We’ve managed to build just about everything in Essex,” adds Adam Harding, “- education, health, industrial, and leisure facilities, plus several supermarkets for Tesco, Asda and Waitrose. The story of 150 years is that you need to be versatile and adaptable to survive, and know how to do more than just create buildings. You need to improve people’s lives along the way.”

Making his point, Mr Harding revealed that BAM used the Stansted Airport car park scheme to help provide 73 weeks of training, eight apprenticeships and four work placements.

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