Throughout 2019, Sir Robert McAlpine has been celebrating 150 years at the forefront of the construction industry. This month, the celebrations reached a dramatic climax in a series of events in London and Manchester. The immersive exhibition and celebratory events retraced the definitive role that Sir Robert McAlpine has played in shaping the UK’s built environment and, also, set out the future ambitions of the business.
The festivities brought together hundreds who have contributed to the company’s success to date, including clients, partners, employees, pensioners and their families. In addition, students from schools, colleges and universities were invited to attend an industry day as Sir Robert McAlpine showcased the best of construction and sought to inspire future generations to consider careers in the industry.
The spirit of Sir Robert, who founded the business in 1869, was celebrated in an interactive exhibition of the company’s achievements over the past 150 years. Growing up in poverty in rural Scotland, young Robert had a childhood of struggles and hardship. He found solace at the coal mines where he got his first job at just 7. From an early age, a strong appetite to learn, a dedication to hard work, and an ambition to succeed and be the best at what he did characterised Robert. Guided by his strong values and entrepreneurial flair, he successfully built a robust and reputable business. Those values are still enduring today and have helped shape the reputation for technical excellence and innovation that the family business is known for.
Robert McAlpine’s first contract was the repair of a mine chimney in 1869. Since then the company has delivered landmark projects across the UK, including the Glenfinnan Viaduct in 1897, of Harry Potter fame, Wembley Stadium in 1922 and the Eden Project in 2000. More recent achievements include the successful delivery of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium and the new retractable roof on Wimbledon’s No 1 Court. Current projects include the refurbishment of the Civic Centre in Newcastle, originally built by Sir Robert McAlpine 50 years ago, Victoria Square in Woking, the redevelopment of Broadgate in central London, and the renovation of the Elizabeth Tower. Some of Britain’s most iconic projects shaping the UK’s landscape have been delivered by Sir Robert McAlpine, an accolade the family and its people hold dear.
Sir Robert McAlpine has undertaken a number of projects to mark the anniversary in ways that will leave a positive and lasting legacy. Earlier this year, the ‘My150’ grassroots programme allowed employees to support projects that they felt passionate about. This campaign has seen grants awarded across the UK to local communities funding things such as pensioners’ gyms, school play areas, women’s cricket teams and local arts and culture festivals. Each award was made in support of the company’s values and the spirit of Sir Robert.
There have been initiatives to raise funds for Maggie’s, a charity that provides invaluable free support to cancer patients and their families when they need it most. Sir Robert McAlpine has a long-standing and close partnership with the organisation. They have notably built several Maggie’s care centres around the country and are part way through their goal of raising £1 million. In June, the “Building for Tomorrow” campaign raised £12,000 for Maggie’s after Sir Robert McAlpine employees undertook a 45-mile trek in the footsteps of Robert McAlpine’s original 1889 expedition to examine the route of the proposed West Highlands railway. In August, several employees embarked on the “heart to home” cycle ride, a gruelling 477-mile journey over five days, connecting Hemel Hempstead to Glasgow, raising £8,000 along the way.
In an endeavour to put the company’s 150 years of industry knowledge and technical excellence at the service of future generations, Sir Robert McAlpine has partnered with the City of Glasgow College and the Career Colleges Trust to develop an employer-led curriculum, focused on the industry’s future needs, for 14-19 year-olds. The aim is to actively promote construction careers among young people and develop their full potential. This will create Scotland’s first Construction Career College and, once in place, the initiative is expected to be replicated across the country.
Paul Hamer, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are immensely proud of our track record of achievements and grateful to all of those who have played their part in assisting Sir Robert McAlpine to realise 150 years in UK business. Beyond our commercial operations, we recognise the important role that we play in society and our responsibility to give back and make a positive impact on our communities and on future generations. As we look forward, we are absolutely committed to our ambition of being the best builder and the best place to work in the construction industry. Here’s to the next 150!”