Something’s Burning?

The 955F`s were updated with Cat 951`s, Case 750`s, 850`s also Case 1000`s and Komatsu D50s tracked loaders being purchased as business continued to flourish and expand.


One of our Komatsu D50S excavators hard at work at Whittington Barracks.

A large contract with the Ministry of Public Works at Whittington Barracks near Lichfield was secured. This contract was to demolish completely, including foundation removal, many large accommodation blocks, ancillary buildings comprising of a gymnasium, recreational facilities, kitchens etc. before landscaping the site on completion. Again, as was the Coleman way, we developed and nurtured a very good working relationship with our employers; this led to many variations being issued to cover incidental works whilst we were on site.


Simple, arguably rudimentary but highly effective demolition of accommodation at Whittington Barracks during 1969. How times have changed.

JCB backhoe loaders had been added to the fleet, then in 1969 JCB 6d tracked excavators, which proved to be very good reliable machines, new model JCB 5c`s were also purchased, later these machines were the cause of a fall out between Coleman and Modern Plant Sales Ltd (JCB Distributor) which led to all JCB machines being sold. Jack Coleman was a man of principle, who knew when he was being “had over”. Case machines also proved to be very unreliable, so, they also had to go – but the Cats kept on working.

I had priced and won a contract at the British Waterways Depot, Sampson Road, Small Heath. A disused canal arm was to be blocked off and sheet piled at its juncture with the main canal, it was to be cleaned out, and then filled in with brick hardcore in readiness for new concrete hardstanding. When the piling was completed we were given permission to start our works, each day we began to pump water out the canal arm, each night the canal arm would partially refill with water seeping through the joints in the steel piles. We were not allowed to leave pumps running out of hours, so each day we were losing a mornings work in pumping out the overnight water that was then continually soaking the materials that had been scrapped up from the bottom in readiness for removal off site. We persevered, gradually building a dam inside the sheet piles that stemmed the water flow, enabling us to slowly complete our works.

Week 10 Land Rover Fire Tender_Older

The fireman’s transport without the uniform or perks!

In readiness for the job we had previously bought a Land Rover fire tender from the ex military service auctions at Ruddington, it was in good working order, painted bright red, flashing lights, bells the lot, and it was also fitted with a Godiva Water Pump. I would drive the Land Rover to and from site each day, one evening a late finish on site meant a hurried journey back to the yard, we encountered heavy traffic congestion in Bordesley, we were getting nowhere fast, the idea to switch on the flashing lights and bells seemed to be a good one at the time, all the traffic moved over to allow clear passage through. Great or so I thought, then I looked in the rear view mirror to see another vehicle following but displaying BLUE flashing lights either side of a POLICE sign, they wanted to know where the FIRE was!!! Taking a harsh telling off I was pleased that I had managed to talk my way out of that difficult situation; once that contract had been completed we sold the vehicle to remove further temptation.


Six of our early Magirus Deutz (“Maggies”) at Sutton Coldfield’s Gracechurch Centre in 1970.

We purchased air cooled Magirus Deutz 6 x 6 dump trucks for on and off road haulage, a fleet of six initially, soon to be followed by four 6 x 4 models. The trucks were very successful, they were reliable and on site traction proved to be a real winner, demand was high. Work was secured for John Laing Construction on a new Gracechurch Shopping Centre in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield; we came across and overcame much public opposition to our using the `Maggie’s` on the Public Highways of the Royal Town. A new office building at Redditch, new Government Buildings at Five Ways Birmingham, a Hotel and business complex at Great Barr, another in Birmingham City Centre. Most were Brownfield sites where demolition had been previously been completed, either by us or by others soon followed.

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