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Report - - Sir Robert McApline plant section-kettering industrial site-Northamptonshire-feb 14 | High Stuff | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Sir Robert McApline plant section-kettering industrial site-Northamptonshire-feb 14


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28DL Full Member
Sir Robert McAlpine is a private British company headquartered in London. It carries out engineering and construction for the oil and gas, petrochemical, power generation, nuclear, pharmaceutical, defence, chemical, water and mining industries.

The company is organised on a regional basis. It has offices in Hemel Hempstead, London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The plant section is based in Kettering.

Sir Robert McAlpine, 1st Baronet who founded the eponymous company was born in 1847 in the Scottish village of Newarthill near Motherwell. From the age of seven he worked in the nearby coal mines, leaving at 16 to become an apprentice bricklayer. Later, working for an engineer, he progressed to being foreman before starting to work on his own account at the age of 22 (1869).

He had no capital other than that he could earn himself and his first contract involving the employment of other men had to be financed by borrowing £11 from the butcher. From there, McAlpine enjoyed rapid success; the early contracts centred on his own trade of bricklaying and by 1874 he was the owner of two brickyards and an employer of 1,000 men. (It was on one of the housing estates he built that he first experimented with using concrete blocks as well as bricks (from which he earned the nickname 'concrete Bob').

With the capital he had acquired, McAlpine determined to build a garden city at Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. Relying now on the income from his estate, McAlpine’s attention moved away from his contracting business towards self-education. However, the financial panic following the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878 virtually wiped out McAlpine financially: his mortgages were called in but his debtors did not pay him.The liabilities from the Hamilton estate were threatening the construction business and to protect it, Robert took his clerk into partnership, trading under the name McAlpine & Co; the clerk was bought out not long after. McAlpine’s first large contract was a building for Singer Manufacturing in 1883 and the profit from that enabled him to pay off his remaining debts. Almost immediately he faced further financial difficulties. Winning a contract for the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway without the necessary technical knowledge, the subsequent rebuilding work and litigation meant another fresh start.

In 1887, Robert took his two eldest sons, Robert junior and William, out of school to help him, with Malcolm and Alfred following soon after, and they did much to rationalise the firm’s administration and finances. Undaunted by his earlier experience, McAlpine took on further railway contracts, this time successfully, including the Mallaig Extension Railway and the Glasgow Subway. There was an increasingly wide range of building and civil engineering contracts but the firm was almost brought to its knees again with the construction of the Methil Docks between 1909 and 1913.

It was argued that this led to a much more cautious approach to risk on the part of the sons – if not the father. The inter-war period saw the firm focusing solely on construction. Gray wrote that Sir Robert McAlpine “seemed to have been involved in every major building and civil engineering project that ever hit the headlines of the day.†They included docks, harbours, power stations, factories; the Wembley Stadium and the Dorchester Hotel were notable examples. The Dorchester was of particular interest. When the client was unable to pay for the construction works, the company took possession of the completed building and operated it on its own account. In November 1934, Sir Robert died aged 87

. Two weeks later the eldest son, the new Sir Robert, also died. William was appointed Chairman while Alfred remained in charge of the operation in the north-west subsidiary, where he had been since 1918. These two deaths must have had some impact on what followed. The two London partners argued that the recession was impacting more on the north than the south and proposed closing Alfred’s company. Alfred, however, did not wish to return to London and, on an informal basis at first, the two businesses were run separately.

The separation was formalised in 1940 and the northern business was renamed Sir Alfred McAlpine. The two McAlpine firms had non-compete arrangements and sites had a common “McAlpine†board irrespective of which firm it was. When both companies first went public, they did so under the names Newarthill for Robert and Marchwiel for Alfred. These arrangements continued until 1983. In 2003, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. sued Alfred McAlpine plc over the use of the family name and won. The dispute centred around Alfred McAlpine's intention to trade under the name "McAlpine". There was previously a long standing agreement within the McAlpine family not to make such a change but, following the death of Alfred McAlpine, the board of Alfred McAlpine sought to make the change in any event. The effect of the judgment was to prevent Alfred McAlpine trading under the name "McAlpine". In 2008, Alfred McAlpine plc was acquired by Carillion and dismantled, thus making the "name war" irrelevant.

The Irish connection

From the 1930s onwards, the company employed large numbers of Irish who had come to England looking for work. The harsh working conditions with which McAlpine's management treated their labourers has gone down in Irish emigrant folklore. The song "McAlpine's Fusiliers" (written by Dominic Behan and made famous by "The Dubliners") described the realities of life on the building site for many Irish expatriates.

Sorry about some of the pictures, the lighting conditions in areas wasnt the easiest to play with. The night was cold, lovely clear skys but pretty icy and my lens wasnt enjoying it....as much as us.

visited with madspof and ofthesohoriots


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These arent huge crains clearly but the middle crane is the tallest so thats the one we went for obviously

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