Crewe UTC contractors celebrate the old and the young as project team departs
Hemel Hempstead, 1 September 2017 - Completing the new UTC in Crewe has marked a very different experience for two of the construction team behind the £12 million building.
Syrus McLaughlin, a management trainee aged 19, is finishing the scheme as his first full job for the contractor, BAM. While for his colleague, Peter Silgram, 65, the UTC marks his retirement from full-time site management.
It is not just their ages that reflect different generations; so do their desks. ‘Peter’s desk is loaded with architects’ drawings and note books’, says senior site manager Neil Kelsall, ‘while Syrus’ is basically his phone and iPad.’
Peter, from Wigan, started as an apprentice joiner in 1968. He joined the Crewe UTC team from the start in December 2015 after projects that include a spell on Manchester City’s acclaimed Football Academy. Although technology plays a greater part now than it did when he began, Peter is undaunted by it.
‘I’ve used the modern tools, but like all technology, it’s only effective if you set it up properly. What matters most, and always has, is teamwork. Right here in Crewe we’ve had a really good team, it works.’
He says working with Syrus is refreshing, and has been passing on his life lessons.
Peter Silgram: ‘What you need is a sense of pride in finishing things, it frustrates me when people don’t have that. I’ve brought a few young people along in my time, and Syrus will have a successful career. I’ve told him he mustn’t leave things unfinished, because they always come back to bite you. I tell him that, you can’t equivocate; the important thing is to make a decision. You learn from your decisions.’
Although Peter has now given up full-time work, he expects to taper his retirement by working a few days a week. One thing he will be doing outside of it is working on his model railway, which he has built from scratch and developed over 25 years, and which spans 35 feet by 9 feet.
Syrus, from Salford, has come directly from school, having secured an apprenticeship with BAM. He doesn’t have Peter’s insight into the many trades that dominate the site, but has found a way to learn. ‘I watch what the trade contractors are doing and stand with them. I have a go at it myself for a while to get a sense of what they are doing.’
While Peter has his notebook, Syrus patrols the buildings being able to access and update the plans electronically.
Both men attended Stockport College, and both came via the apprenticeship route. With 800 students ultimately being catered for by the engineering and design College, it’s notable that both are convinced about the value of a career in construction.
Says Syrus: ‘It’s a great career. No two days are the same. I’d recommended it to others thinking about their future career.’
Says Peter: ‘My son seemed lost when he was 16 so I took him to do some labouring. He grew interested in what was going on and now he’s an engineer. There is no boredom factor in this job. You get a continuing sense of achievement. And for Syrus, it could not have been a better job. BAM’s safety method is very good, and compared to some of the 50 or 60 buildings I’ve worked on during my career, Crewe UTC has been a stroll in the park.’
BAM handed over Crewe UTC in three phases. Phase one, the refurbished element, was completed in August 2016, while phase two, the new building, was completed recently and BAM has since been finishing external works and cycle sheds.