Hansom: The big time

This week in construction is suffused with the heady scent of success, from elected mayors, popular tourist snaps, a cyclist going the extra mile and quite a lot of very, very rich people


A colleague was researching the campaign promises of the candidates for the “metro-mayorships” and his eye was caught by a snippet about Ben Houchen, the new Conservative overseer of all things Tees Valley-related. Our Ben has an interesting footballing pedigree, in as much as his uncle Keith was responsible for one of English football’s greatest goals. Keith played for Coventry City in the 1987 FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur, and his blistering header was one of three goals scored by the Midlands team in a 3-2 win over the north London side. We hope success runs in the family …

Picture this

I’m a tad long in the tooth for Instagram, the social media/photography malarkey, but Netherlands-based travel specialist TravelBird recently published a list of the world’s most Instagrammed sites, based on something called a “hashtag”. Disneyland in California (14.6 million hashtags) was number one, while the highest UK entry was Big Ben at number seven (2.6 million). In the UK-only chart, Buckingham Palace was number two (587,000), then – bizarrely – Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC (420,000), squarely beating Stonehenge (371,000) into fourth. Frequent visitors to the Old Trafford, home of Liverpool’s arch-rival Manchester United, will doubtless be seething …

So, where are we?

Staying in the north-west, architect Benoy tells me it took inspiration for its commission to design a new departure lounge at Manchester airport from the city’s heritage. “We want passengers to feel as though they are in Manchester, as opposed to any airport in the world,” says the firm’s executive director David Coyne. How, exactly? “Hexagonal honeycomb patterns have been applied to the glass ceiling and feature wall designs,” the PR blurb says. I would think Bez-themed security guards and an information desk staffed by Mark E Smith would have been better.

Considerably richer …

Construction’s highest entry into the annual Sunday Times rich list is once again digger boss Anthony Bamford whose family fortune is estimated at £3.3bn, slightly down on last year – but enough to make the JCB man and his family the 35th richest in the UK. Norman Foster is in the list too, whose fortune stays flat at £170m, and Lakshmi Mittal, no doubt delighted his finances have bounced back – and how. Now worth £13.2bn, the steel king saw his fortune rise a whopping £6.1bn last year. “His increase is one of the highest annual rises to date,” the paper notes.

… than the Beckhams

Sticking with the rich list, Ray O’Rourke suffered a hit, with the wealth of the Laing O’Rourke boss and his family put at £306m – a fall of £24m on last time. Still, he might be pleased to know he’s got more money than the Beckhams – my yardstick of rich – who are only worth £300m. And he’s ahead of that other famously reclusive contracting dynasty, the McAlpines who, the list reckons, are worth even less: just £230m in fact.

Absolutely contradictory

Joanna Lumley, the Garden Bridge’s number one fan, was asked last week in the Evening Standard – another flag-waver for the blasted thing – about why she cuts and dyes her own hair. Please note: the bridge has so far consumed more than £37m of taxpayers’ money and absolutely nothing has been built. So, why the personal peroxide? “I can’t see the point of spending tons of money.” Oh can’t you, Joanna?

A bike ride to remember

Construction’s sizeable contingent of cyclists will no doubt be aware of the Fred Whitton Challenge – a 112-mile course across Cumbrian hills described as “one of the toughest events in the UK” by Lycra-lovers’ bible Cycling Weekly. So, congratulations to Stuart Wilks, founder of Limeslade Consulting and former director at Hill International, who braved the ride earlier this month in aid of the King George & Queen’s Hospitals Charity in memory of his daughter Charlotte. His JustGiving page is still open for donations at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/CharlotteWilks2

Send any juicy industry gossip to hansom@ubm.com

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