A sense of isolation

In 1987 Mother suffered a stroke that incapacitated her, to make her feel wanted, we insisted that there was still work for her to do in the office. We gave her plenty to do, which meant she was in company and that she was occupied. When I took her to physiotherapy, I would take her to visit sites, but she was always in a hurry to get back to the office, I once pulled into a pub car park, in the pretence of going for a beer; she went `off her head` at the thought of going into a pub during the day! We had some fun and so many good times.

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My Mum, Norah Coleman, hard at work. She’ still sorely missed.

Whilst I was away with Shell Oil, at their Lubrication Engineering Division in Holland in September 1988, I received a call from my sister to say that Mother had suffered another more serious stroke. Shell made immediate arrangements for me to return back home. I headed straight for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, arriving about 02:00am. I talked my way in to see my mother, who was in the end bed, in a small Ward of six patients. The other five were asleep, Mom was awake, very weak and drowsy, I sat with her for a while, we said a little prayer, when I asked “why aren`t you sleeping?” she replied “I knew that you would come and I have been waiting for you!”  She smiled we had a little chat and then dozed off to sleep. I left knowing that she was comfortable. Later that morning she had another more serious Stroke from which she did not recover. Mom died on 22nd September 1988 aged 69 years. The Love of My Life had gone to join her Husband.

In the space of four years the founders of Coleman & Company had gone, it was now upto me, Maureen and Mike to carry on as we had been for the last few years, however, there was a tremendous vacuum in our working life. We could have closed the firm when we had all the problems in 1984/5, when things were at their lowest ebb, we could have taken the easy option, we didn`t, we decided to continue and to build as our parents would have wished.

On 26th October the Great Storm of 1987 hit with hurricane force winds, recorded as the worst storm since that of 1703, causing 18 deaths and billions of pounds of damage.

We weren’t involved with the clean up operation after the Great Storm of 1987 but you can read how Coleman & Company were asked by Birmingham City Council to help after  a tornado struck Birmingham in July 2005 here.

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A recycling coup

Land fill prices were escalating due to the available sites being filled with materials generated from the many redevelopment activities. In autumn 1986 we bought the first mobile crusher into Birmingham. It was a completely new initiative for dealing with the products that our developing activities produced, i.e. the concrete and hardcore from demolitions and foundation removal. We managed to get the material recovery activity appended to the Waste Management Licence, overcoming objections from Councillors and Residents alike, all of whom when on a site visit were unaware that the machine was actually working. Materials were bought into the yard, crushed, then resold, NOT having to pay for tipping, what a bonus. We soon learnt how to meet Construction Specifications, we installed a magnet to remove the scrap, a screener to remove the side conveyor belt fines from the pre crushed materials, therefore creating more crushed hardcore also a fines material to be used for blinding, we were approaching ZERO waste.

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Our materials recycling equipment in action at our Meriden Quarry producing high grade aggregate. This has now been supplemented with other recycling plant at Shady Lane which washes and produces materials that are suitable for retail sale

Wates Construction site were to start work on a new site at Aston University Birmingham, where the excavation activities would produce very large quantities of concrete and brick from the substantial foundations and bases of the old buildings that had previously occupied the site. The Bills of Quantities indicated that such materials, allowed for in the Provisional Quantities, would be approximately 75% of the materials to be excavated and removed. The void created by the excavation works was then to be refilled with a piling material to return the site close to existing levels.

We suggested to Wates that we stockpile, process, crush and screen, on site, all excavations that contained artificially hard materials, they agreed but insisted that it would be at our risk and that the programme did not suffer as a consequence, we were to remove all materials that were not compliant with the piling specification, our plan worked, we produced an in spec material, reducing our disposal off site by 60%, saving on 60% of imported stone. We were paid for the excavation, and disposal for the full quantity of materials generated, for the Extra Over Rates for breaking out concrete, brick and the like, then for the provision of piling material. We gave a saving back to Wates, who passed that saving on to the University. This was another FIRST for Coleman.

To learn more about our recycling services click here.

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A friend indeed

April 1985 Mel Wilde of Shand (formerly Lehane McKenzie & Shand now part of Morrison Construction) telephoned to say that they had been awarded the Wolverhampton Ring Road Contract and would like to talk to us. I went to meet them in their Brierly Hill Office, we badly needed the work but I was in no mood to be brow beaten as was, and still is, common, but I was in for a pleasant surprise, our rates were agreed with a few extras, they understood our predicament, the bounce was back in my step.

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Some of the old buses that used to circle the Wolverhampton ring road.

We set about meeting the contract requirements with renewed vigour; I telephoned Ken Buzzard of Foundry Services Ltd, Bilston. We agreed rates to use his Lorries and tip; he was also suffering the ill effects of recession. The work started, our machines and trucks were working again, I had an agreement with Ken to pay him on 60 days, we were being paid on 30 days. Through all of our difficulties our bankers at Allied Irish Bank had fully supported us, but we were beginning to encounter cash flow problems.

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Shand to their credit made us a payment after 14 days then monthly thereafter, the works went well, a good relationship with Shand developed, leading to further projects at Snow Hill Station, A457 Dudley Road, Paradise Circus all in Birmingham, many other smaller works in the Midlands that were also successfully completed.

As a consequence of the Wolverhampton Ring Road job a good understanding and working relationship developed with Foundry Services and a sincere friendship developed between Ken and me, we worked together for each other on many sites in co-operation not competition; we had a good understanding of each other. I was greatly saddened when Ken became very poorly, I used to visit him at home, where he was always smiling, even through the great pain that he was suffering. When Ken died, so did a good friendship, Ken`s son Andy ran the company for a while before going into other ventures.

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Could things really get worse?

On a very cold, snowy and windy Sunday morning in January 1985, a scaffold at the Rabone Chesterman site was blown over just as we were about to leave site. After the cleanup, we had the remaining scaffolds inspected to find that they were deficient in ties and “that in the interest of public safety they should be removed without delay”. The H.S.E. decided to issue proceedings against Coleman for the collapse of a structure, what had caused the collapse was not of their concern, it was an absolute offence that we could not defend even though we considered ourselves to be the innocent party. The scaffolding contractor, South Birmingham Scaffolding Ltd soon went into receivership, therefore, we had no redress on them.

I really thought we were in the proverbial creek without a paddle....

I really thought we were in the proverbial creek without a paddle….

Things were bad, very bad my Father had died, the depot and offices were destroyed, we were to be prosecuted by the H.S.E. it was cold, wet and very miserable, the country was in recession, work was in short supply and what work there was, was at very low rates. Could it get any worse? Surely not! Yes it could, we found out that we were under insured. We were working from portacabins, when EPL`s parent company, John Laing Construction, decided to blame Coleman for the explosion, saying that we were responsible for the depot security and as such were negligent in the execution of our responsibilities. We argued stating that if the Container had been broken into as alleged, by Laing, then there would not have been an explosion, as the acetylene gas in the container would have escaped as soon as the doors were opened, eventually their Insurance paid to the insured amount less the percentage deduction for our failure to have the correct Insured Sum cover.

We were in deep trouble good and proper! What were we to do? Our trusted employer for many years was close to destroying us, hitting us when we were well and truly down, we had little alternative but to take Legal action against John Laing Construction Ltd for the damage and destruction caused by the explosion. As we expected, Laing resisted and fought hard, we were getting nowhere, so we somewhat reluctantly instigated court proceedings against John Laing Construction Ltd., for the full restoration costs of the explosion damage. Our finances were being greatly stretched and depleted. A few days before the hearing date our claim and costs were met and paid in full. We were so relieved, we could now begin to rebuild and go on as had been promised to my Father.

Recession of the 80`s was now starting to bite, Margaret Thatcher’s Government had set about reducing the Trade Deficit of the previous Government. Massive cut backs in Government expenditure led to large scale unemployment as work dried up once more; fortunately we were not laden with debt. We had contracts with various Councils that kept us working but not busy, the bounce and drive was greatly diminished, our spirits were low.

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The SHOCK of the sense of LOSS

Unfortunately my Father became ill in the early 1980`s. Then on Saturday 15th December 1984, I had been to Leeds, with my son Darren, to see Blues play and beat Leeds United (1 0) on a very cold and foggy day. At 9:15 that evening I received a phone call, at home, from the Police advising that there had been a fireball explosion in our Depot, they needed me there as quickly as possible. I was shocked at the devastation, offices destroyed, boundary walls and adjacent premises totally obliterated, some of the machines and transport badly damaged, Police and Fire Brigade searching for any one that may be trapped in the destruction, I could not bear to tell my parents what had happened, but before I went home in the early hours of Sunday, I called to see them to give the bad news, the premises were secured, everyone had gone home.

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On Sunday a few of us returned to salvage what we could and make things safe, that was when the Fire Chief told us that it appeared that EPL International had a battery on charge in a sealed site safe container, where they had also stored and used Oxy-Acetylene cutting gear, the bottles had not been switched off after use, the Acetylene had leaked, the sealed container filled with gas, when the battery that was on charge, when charged it sparked igniting the gas thus causing the devastation. One of the doors off the container was blown some 400 yards landing on the car park of the Manor House Public House opposite our depot; it took 4 men to lift that door, which demonstrated the force of the explosion.

Monday and Tuesday 17th & 18th December was taken up with insurance, salvage and general tidy up. I refused to take my father to the Yard due to him not being well. On Wednesday 19th my father insisted, indeed was adamant, that I show him what had happened, as I drove him through the gates I felt his heart and spirits sink to a low that I had never seen or witnessed before in a man of such strong character and determination. I decided to take him to some of the jobs that we were doing, including the Rabone Chesterman works in Hockley, where he met a few of the guys, including Pat Maloney, a hard working Irishman, who had worked for Coleman for many years, becoming an honest friend until the sad day of his passing.

My father and I chatted about many things, I told him that Coleman`s would recover, that we would build new offices and depot to be proud of, on OUR site, I told him that I had booked seats in a private box at St Andrews to see Blues play Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day, (a first division match Blues losing 1  0, to a crowd of 10378) he was pleased but did comment that ”they never came to see me when I was bad” at that time Blues WERE bad. He said that he would look forward to the day with family and Grandchildren. I dropped dad off home for lunch, and then returned about my duties, as was usual I called to see my parents that evening, as I did every evening, to ensure that they were OK. Dad was still very upset that such a thing could happen, I could see the distress in him, my assurances were of little significance. After a few hours I went home.

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In the early hours of 20th December 1984 I received a phone call from my mother, all she did was say my name, I replied that I would be right over. John Edmund Coleman had died aged 69 years. The shock and upset was then and still is impossible to describe, the loneliness of having lost my mentor, the dad who was my best mate, who taught me the values that are still in Coleman & Co today, a keen Blues (Birmingham City) supporter, we went to many games together, home and away, I from the early age of 5 or 6 years crawling under the turnstile, until I had my own seat, right up to the late 1970`s am proud to say that we shared many very happy hours that are now such wonderfully happy memories. But I also have many “other memories” school reports were always a sore point (ouch), when things went wrong it was always my fault, I never did enough or did what I did, do correctly! It was all part of the valuable apprenticeship in life, impossible to price.

After the funeral we were into a new year. We adopted the spirit of Dad in “off we go again”, that`s what he would have wanted.

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Doors close – Doors open

After the shock and disappointment of not being awarded the Birmingham Airport contract, we gathered our senses, once more then we were off again. A Laing subsidiary EPL International Ltd Midlands Depot was based in our premises at Stechford, needless to say they were very upset that a good relationship had been tarnished and were worried that there could be a backlash, but there wasn`t, as long as they continued to pay their rent!  We carried out many contracts of site clearance, earthmoving and civil engineering in the expanding towns of Telford and Redditch for Main Contractors Wrekin Construction and Sir Alfred Mc Alpine, good companies, sadly neither of whom are in business today.

Wrekin construction going into administration came as a  shock to everyone who worked in the construction in dustry

Wrekin construction going into administration came as a shock to everyone who worked in the construction in dustry

Mc Alpines in particular were hard task masters, but always straight and fair, we were busy again because we could vary our wide range of activities in a very competent manner. Mc Alpine Plant Manager Bill Kinsey appreciated what Colemans were about, a very good working relationship developed. Dave Trotman was one of the muckshift (earthmoving) foremen; Dave was a giant of a man, jet black hair, a roar worse than Concorde, but he had a warm smile, a Mc Alpine man through and through, no airs or graces about Dave! The first time he called for me to meet him, we were working on a site in Redditch where we had 977`s, 951`s, D8`s, D6d`s and a fleet of Maggies working on site 07:00 to 19:00 Monday to Friday 07:00 to 16:00 Saturday and Sunday, with one hour break each day, during which the machines would be refuelled and greased.

The afternoon was warm, we were having a general chat prior to going on site, Dave overheard something on the site radio that he did not agree with, as he turned bright red with rage, he asked me to wait for him to return, I had little alternative but to willingly agree. A transporter had just delivered six new Land Rovers to site, one was for Dave, he grabbed the keys, jumped in and roared off up the site to where, from the embankment, he could see two Motor Scrapers parked behind a hedge, the drivers chatting over a smoke. Dave immediately raced down the embankment, across a plateau at the bottom, through a gap in the hedge to where the stationary scrapers were, completely forgetting about the ditch to the back of the hedge, drove the brand new Land Rover to a juddering halt as it hit the far side of the ditch. His mind was focussed on the scrapers, running upto them, then in no gentlemanly way sacking both drivers, radioed the site office saying, no shouting, no roaring. “Get replacement drivers for the scrapers, I want my old Land Rover back, this replacement`s no ——- good, it can go back to where it came from its ——- useless, no good to me the way it is, oh yes tell Dave Coleman to come with whoever brings it”. I wondered what I was going to witness, by the time we had arrived at the scene of the new Land Rover, bent and buckled in the ditch looking very sorry!

We went to the part of the site where Coleman`s plant was working, Dave said to me “you know mate (yes, pleased to say I was his mate) if all my blokes on site were as good as yours, I`d have no worries!” just as he said that one of our Maggies bumped into a McAlpine site tractor. My heart stopped, having just witnessed the `wrath of Trotman` I was sure that I knew what I was in for, by the time we got to the scene, the minor damage had been sorted, both truck and tractor had carried on working, blood pressure remained stable. We worked on many sites together rarely did we have problems, either way!

To learn more about the Coleman & Company story why not have a look at our book – 50 Years of Progress. 

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Challenges and disappointments

My brother Michael joined the company in April 1980; his role was generally in transport, keeping an eye on things, ensuring productivity, later to incorporate the management and maintenance of plant and equipment.

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The winter of 1982/83 was brutally cold.

 The 1980`s continued to see many changes within the Coleman organisation, although the activities remained mainly as they were. In 1982/3 the winter was very severe, diesel waxed up in the plant and vehicles causing engines to stop or fail to start. Many days it would be mid morning before we could get everything running. During this period we secured another contract from West Midlands County Council for the advanced works in preparation for a major road widening scheme at Stafford Road Wolverhampton.

The site was inaccessible due to high rock faces that were to be removed as part of the contract. It was agreed that we could create an entrance onto the site at 4:00am on a Sunday morning. We met in the Depot at 3:00, the morning was bitterly cold -18c, our fears of fuel freezing were to be true, nothing would start. We realised that all the petrol engines fired up without a problem, so  it was decided to put some petrol into the diesel tanks, after a few minutes the diesel had de-waxed then started to flow, the engines were bled and fired up. We were on site a little late but got the job for the day done. From then on, during that winter, we used put a measure of petrol into the diesel tanks – another problem solved. Thankfully modern diesel fuels are now pre treated to prevent the fuel from waxing.

The projects continued to get larger and more intricate; we had been successful in securing work for the scrapers in Brickworks `winning clay` in the summer months to ensure winter brick production when the clay could not be readily won, in the winter months we would have work for other machines carrying out small jobs in and about the quarries, it all helped to pay the Bills.

Then the real big one came along Birmingham Airport Redevelopment, in our eyes a tremendous project five miles from base. The pencil`s were sharpened worn out and re sharpened many times over. We had priced for John Laing Construction and Wimpey. Both had used Coleman`s excavation rates and both were neck and neck to securing the project. Pre-tender agreements had been reached with both companies in that the other had not got preferential rates whereby, in return, who so ever won the project would award the earthmoving contract to Coleman. With this agreement in mind, we then set about looking for the additional plant and equipment that we would require to do the work. We were delighted when the announcement was made that Laing had been successful, we were about to be awarded our largest contract to date or so we thought. We had been true to our “word” both Laing and Wimpey did have the same rates, we had shook hands on a deal, the deal was done!

A Cat 637 twin engine motor scraper - very similar to the plant I very nearly bought.

A Cat 637 twin engine motor scraper – very similar to the plant I nearly bought.

We had sourced and arranged finance for six scrapers in Belgium, ready to bring over in anticipation of the Airport work; we had turned down a years’ work in the Brickworks because we would not have coped with both – good work that we never got back. Laing then had a “re-organisation” and would not return our calls or respond to us in any way, people who we had dealt with pre-tender were “no longer available”. My father and me had always believed that a man’s word is his bond; we could not or would not believe that Laing of all companies, after all the years of working together on many successful projects would not be true to their “word or bond”. I refused to sign the finance papers for the 637`s, I felt that something was very wrong. We soon were to discover that Laing had been double dealing they had placed an Order with West Midlands Excavations. Whose price was about £500,000:00 below that of Coleman, we knew it was far too low and so did Laing, West Midlands Excavations did not complete the works before going into receivership. We tried to recover our work in the Brickworks, but were unsuccessful. The day Birmingham Airport started every man and machine that Coleman had in its fleet was standing due to no work. My father, nor anyone of us could not believe what had happened, I was so pleased that the finance papers for the 637`s had not been signed otherwise Coleman would have been in severe financial difficulties.

To learn more about the plant we own and operate please click here.

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The things that we have to do.

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Some people rule with an iron fist….

The Packington Land Fill Site near Coleshill, formerly a sand and gravel quarry, I remember as a boy going with my Father when he would collect materials from the quarry in the 1950s. Now as a Land Fill it was part of the Packington Estate, Warwickshire, and owned by Lord and Lady Aylesford, controlled, operated and ruled with a “rod of iron” by Mr. Anthony Biddle; he was one on his own. He had tarmac site roads for all lorries to travel over, to save the vehicle owner expense of damage, but woe betide any driver who did not obey the strict site rules to the letter, they and the company they worked for would be `banned from the site` for a period of time dependant on the severity of the misdemeanour. His alsatian dog used tremble when its name was called. He had areas of the site that had been completed, top soiled and seeded, then fenced with sheep grazing contently. He certainly was an unusual character, love him or loathe him he was a character that you could not help but respect, because, everyone always knew where they stood with Mr. Biddle!

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Coleman & Company’s screenplay debut didn’t quite go according to plan….

As part of the restoration project Coleman secured work for many machines, Mr. Biddle was applying for planning permission to extend the site, in support of his application, he decided to make a film of the site to present to the Council, to show how well the site was operated, even though the Council Committee had previously toured the site by coach. Film day arrived, it had been decided that the film would initially start by illustrating the plant and equipment that was employed on site.      All the machines, at the ready, cleaned with tracks dug out, were lined up to follow the foreman’s Land Rover once the signal was given. The signal was that Mr. Biddle would drop his handkerchief once he had got a good vantage point from a nearby tree, oh dear, all seemed to be going well, the signal was given, the Land Rover moved off followed by Packington’s own plant, then Colemans plant that consisted of two D8 & Scrapers, a D6 dozer, two Cat 225s and four Volvo Dumptrucks. So far so good, the convoy moved off, except that one of the Coleman Dumptruck drivers needing a `call of nature` decided to relieve the pressure on his bladder against the wheel of the truck that he was driving, not realising the signal to start moving had been given. Mr Biddle was not pleased; in fact he was wild with rage, tearing a strip off the offending driver, making sure that a similar reoccurrence would not happen again, he lined all the plant up once more. When back in his vantage point in the tree the signal was given to start moving again, as before, all went well but this time the same dumptruck driver was now reading his news paper, again not realising that once again the signal had once more been given. Mr. Biddle wild with rage threw his camera to the ground which shattered into many pieces, then he fell out of the tree, thankfully not hurting himself. He decided to stand all Coleman plant sending the drivers off site, until I went to see him.

I had been taking a few days holiday, in Ireland, at the time, that didn’t matter; he would not speak to anyone at Colemans except for me, so returned home to face the wrath and fury of a man that I could ill afford to fall out with. I spoke to one of our long serving employees who had been on site, Arthur Quinn, who I knew Mr. Biddle favoured, I needed to get the exact story of what happened, I could only imagine the situation, we couldn’t help but to end our conversation in raptures of laughter. I decide the least that Colemans could do was to replace the shattered camera, I bought a new state of the art cine camera as a replacement. Then I went to Mr. Biddle`s office, in Packington Hall, to face the music. I was kept waiting for an hour or so, through the closed door came the ROAR for me to enter, on doing so I noticed the Alsatian lying under a side table trembling with fear, I was not sure whether that fear was for me or for itself? I knew that whatever I said would not placate the man, even though I had interrupted my short holiday to return to see him, I was told “I would expect nothing less!” I just sat and endured. When there was no more steam to be released, things calming down, we chatted about the work, the site, the work that Colemans had starting that would mean materials coming into Packington, we had a cup of Coffee, I presented my mate Tony with his new camera to replace the shattered one that was strategically positioned on his desk, he was delighted, he hugged me, even the Alsatian got up and came over wagging its tail in a rare anxiety free moment. All was well, we all went back to work best of friends, oh yes, Tony did take the film on his new camera, and then with letters of support from his main customers he got his Planning Permission. Packington then went on to harvest Methane Gas that was produced from the waste tipped in the land Fill, using same to generate electricity; I believe that his was the first such plant to be operated in the U.K. It was a credit to a remarkable man, who I admired and for most of the time was indeed fortunate to have known.

To learn more about the earthwork services we provide please click here.

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Surprised at what we do?

Our ever extending and varied list of plant and equipment, excavators from 20 to 45 tonnes, tracked and rubber tyre loading shovels from 1.5 to 3.5 cubic yards, dozers, towed scrapers, rollers, dump trucks for on and off public highway work, low loaders, coupled with our wide range of activities in demolition, excavation, waste disposal, plant hire, heavy haulage etc., led us into land reclamation, as many sites from which buildings were being or had been demolished contained a tremendous amount of underground construction in the form of foundations, bases, cellars, ducts, culverts etc.. that had remained undisturbed and forgotten, in some cases old buildings were cleared, foundations left in place, then the old foundations were just built over with new construction if they did not interfere with or cause problems for the new construction.

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Snow Hill Train Station (1983). We were completing technical demolition & land reclamation contracts a long time ago.

A wide and varied range of projects for many Local and National Authorities for British Rail, that became Railtrack which went into Administration in 2001 then Network Rail in 2002, the C.E.G.B., West Midlands County Council, Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire County Councils, also many District Councils Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich (now Sandwell M.B.C.) and Main Contractors was fast becoming another successful specialist activity for the ever expanding Coleman & Co.  

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The muddy road leading to Packington Tip. The smell of methane has never left me since.

We secured long term Plant Hire Contracts at Packington Land Fill Site, where we had a wide range of machinery that was engaged on restoration works and general site engineering. Similarly for Warwickshire County Council on Land Fill Sites at Henley In Arden and Ryton on Dunsmore. West Midlands County Council, at Clayhanger, also on many self managed sites both small and large, nothing too big nothing too small, always willing to oblige.

To learn more about the range of demolition and associated services we provide click here.

Posted in Demolition, Earthworks, Family Business, Industrial Demolition, Land Reclamation, Railway Projects, Skip Business | 2 Comments

Good to give something back

In 1977, my Father heard of a story about The Birmingham Women’s Hospital that wanted to retain a cancer machine that they had been trialing which had proven to be a great success. Dr Joe Jordan led an appeal to see if the necessary funds could be raised. After a family discussion, with everyone agreeing that we should buy and donate the machine to the Hospital. It was with great pride that my Father and Mother who came to Birmingham with little more than hope and a very strong will to succeed handed over a cheque for the hospital to buy and retain the machine they so much wanted. My Father always said “This Country has been good to us, it’s great to be in a position to be able to give something back!”

Week 16 - the 22 RB in action

The old ball and chain powered by the RB22 would not be considered a primitive and potentially dangerous combination but no one could argue with its effectiveness. An iconic demolition tool

The demolition of the Curzon Street Waste Incinerator Plant, was for Tender through Birmingham City Council, we were successful with our submission, a major works taking many months to complete, the site contained one of the largest brick chimney`s in the Midlands, J. Lacey Steeplejacks Ltd., reduced the height to enable 22RB with 60ft jib, (the old digger and ball) to complete the chimney demolition works, the work was good and varied, many differing types of buildings and construction, were encountered much of it new to us. This project was then on our Company C.V. for when the Witton Incinerator was later shut down, in readiness for demolition, we were also successful in securing that particular contract, our extensive Company CV, the large and varied range of activities and equipment were highly complementary to our Tender submission.

The Witton Incinerator Demolition was a much more complicated project, it consisted of many varying heavily reinforced mass concrete structures on post tensioned beams and driven piled foundations, all which were to be carefully dismantled and removed as part of the scheme, thinking caps on, as we were to encounter formidable construction that we had never previously experienced, neither had the industry so we had nowhere to go to seek guidance or advice. Needless to say the project did over run, our employers, the City Council, were understanding and accommodating but none too generous in assisting us to cover the additional costs and expense.

week 16 - 942 in action

One of our “Maggie” Deutz trucks being loaded by our Liebherr 942 next to the A38 in Burton-On-Trent.

The motorways were by now being rebuilt, Motorway Reconstruction Lane Rental Schemes were offered to us, as is the Coleman way we gave it a try, very hard work on the men and machines, we purchased Liebherr 942 LC as lead machine, a rugged 45 tonne excavator, that performed well without fault for 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Non completion on programme carried massive penalties all for very little reward; this was not an activity that we wished to pursue for obvious reasons.

If you would like to learn more about the plant Coleman & Company use nowadays please look here. We’ve moved on quite some way from the ball and chain!

I’m also very proud to say Coleman’s history of caring for the community (now termed “Corporate Social Responsibility“) is as strong as ever during our 50th Anniversary year in the forms the cornerstone of our Triple 50 initiative (my son Mark’s idea!).

Posted in Complex Demolition, Corporate Social Responsibility, Earthworks, Industrial Demolition | Leave a comment