Construction company plants 150,000th tree in North West, releases archive photos of schemes across region

Construction company plants 150,000th tree in North West, releases archive photos of schemes across region

Manchester, 8 December 2019 - A major construction company that operates across the North West and is behind significant developments such as Manchester City’s Football Academy, and Unilever’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Port Sunlight, Merseyside, has revealed its photo archive one day ahead of a ceremonial tree planting event to mark its 150th anniversary.

BAM Construction operates from Salford and covers the whole of the North West from North Wales, to Lancashire and Cumbria. On Tuesday (December 10th) it marks its 150th anniversary internationally by planting the final instalment of 150,000 trees during the year. The planting takes place in Boz Park, Bury, in Greater Manchester.

Ian Fleming, the regional director for BAM in the region, says: ‘If you live in Liverpool, North Wales, and Greater Manchester, you’ve almost certainly stepped inside a building we created. We’ve built around 50 hospitals and healthcare schemes, around 50 schools and universities, and the same number of offices and retail schemes, among many others. In the past 20 years we’re best known for our education buildings including universities and schools, leisure centres, and some special schemes like the Co-Op HQ and the National Graphene Institute, but our history reflects how British life has changed.’

BAM’s first scheme in the region was in 1933 when it built the parcel office in Hatton Garden. Its earliest schemes were industrial for Rolls Royce, ICI, Rover, British Oxygen, Kraft Food in Liverpool and British Rail among others.

“Our sister company BAM Nuttall created the Royal Liver Building in 1911. It was one of the first in the world using reinforced concrete and some said it would prove impossible to build. Britain was an industrial engine in the 50s and 60s,” continues Ian Fleming, “and we built for the biggest names of their day. That remains true remained the same with clients like Unilever coming to BAM for the quality of our work, our collaborative attitude and modern techniques.’

One of the company’s earliest schemes was a factory for British Celanese in Wrexham, 1954. In money of the day it costs £1.9 million, over £60 million in today’s prices and in the 1960s was acquired by chemical giant Courtaulds. The BBC’s regional headquarters and Salford University’s library followed in the late 60s. BAM (then two separate companies called Higgs and Hill and Kyle Stewart) built Fiddlers Ferry Power Station and North Wales District Hospital.

Although the company was founded in London, work expanded to the extent that a dedicated North West office was needed and BAM started in Salford in 1976. It has been there since.

‘It was clear that the market wanted a company that could develop, design, build, engineer and manage its own buildings with a highly technological approach behind it. That focus on quality is the secret to our success.’ Mr Fleming remarks that much has changed in the construction sector. ‘Safety has transformed beyond recognition. Our early employees back in 1874 had a horse and cart and moved goods via steam. Now, we have virtual reality engineers and drone pilots, and the sustainability agenda has combined with modern technology to make buildings smarter and cleaner. We can harvest the data to manage energy better and improve design. It’s a constant stream of innovation, efficiency and improvement.’

Sustainability brings him back to the tree planting event in Manchester where his team are working with local charity, City of Trees at Boz Park, Bury, on Tuesday 10 December. The new tree-planting season began late November during National Tree Week.

The UK has the least forest coverage in Europe (around 13%; the average is 35%). BAM is supporting City of Trees to create a new broadleaf forest in Bury, sponsoring 3,000 trees for 30 years.

Beth Kelsall, Delivery Co-Ordinator for City of Trees, says: ‘We aim to plant half a million trees by March 2020, which marks the end of tree planting season. The trees also form part of the Northern Forest, an ambitious initiative aiming to plant 50 million trees in 25 years, stretching from Liverpool to Hull.’ She adds: ‘The private sector is critical to this, bringing in both funding and volunteer support. Tree planting is a great way people can connect to nature and it’s not a mechanised process. Planting the right tree in the right place is also crucial for their long term survival.’

A team of some 50 volunteers, plus Woodhey Brass Band, and local school, Summerseat Methodist Primary School, will be on hand to make the occasion into a real community effort.

Ian Fleming concludes: ‘Wherever we build we have an opportunity to give back, and act as a responsible business should. Future generations matter to us. We need to help preserve the planet for them. That’s why our Group company, Royal BAM, chose to celebrate its 150th anniversary by planting 150,000 trees around the world, instead of organising a party. Forests are key to restraining climate change and restoring biodiversity. Trees provide clean air to breathe and so much more. I’m very pleased that the North West is where our final tree planting of the year will mark our historic 150th year.’