Building on a proud legacy

Pinchinthorpe Hall

By Dave Robson

Its name is steeped in our region’s steelmaking history – but Teesside Bridge Engineering is very much a product of the 21st century.

Formed in 2017 as the fabrication arm of sister company Teesside Rigging and Lifting, the firm, based at Skippers Lane Industrial Estate, Middlesbrough, has forged a reputation for reliability and quality.

And MD Steve Smith says that’s fitting for a company whose name pays homage to its illustrious predecessors.

By 1875, Teesside had around 100 blast furnaces producing two million tons of iron a year. On July 25 1896, Teesside Bridge & Engineering works was registered as a company. It proved so successful that in 1930, it was taken under the wing of steel giant Dorman Long.

After World War Two, Tees firms accounted for 80 per cent of the north’s steel output and 16 per cent nationally. By the mid-1970s, 28,000 people were working in the steel sector.

The picture has changed dramatically in recent years. But when Steve registered the name Teesside Bridge Engineering in 2016, he wanted to establish a successful local company that would again use a skilled local workforce – and that’s exactly what has happened.

“We’ve had a great year,” Steve said. “We want to be known for our quality but also as a company that looks after its own people. At the end of the day, we’re only as good as our workforce.

“We have a policy of paying national agreement rates. For me, if there is a national agreement, you should pay that. But that also means you get good lads who do top quality work – it is a no-brainer.

“We get a lot of repeat business, which proves we’re doing it right.”

Steve says the history of steel on Teesside is important to him.

“Along with the iconic Dorman Long and Cleveland Bridge, there was also Teesside Bridge. There’s still a Teesside Bridge Social Club in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough.

“I used to look at the name, think about the history and think, ‘One day, I’m going to get that’ and that’s what we did. I ended up buying the name and I am very proud to have it.

“I also got sick of relying on other people doing fabrication work for us and letting us down, so I thought, ‘We’ll do it ourselves’ – and it’s gone from strength to strength.”

The firm employs 12 time-served people and specialises in plating/fabrication and welding, with a 10,000-sq ft fabrication shop, plus two-ton and ten-ton crane capacity.

Led by fabrication manager Peter Daley and QA manager Danny Appleton, it is qualified to EN1090 standard, so it can fabricate to execution class 2. It has ISO accreditations 9001, 14001 and 45001.

Danny said: “We supply qualified and competent tradesmen, supervision, management and setting out engineers to cover the full scope of any fabrication or erection project.

“We complete all our own detailing and have a fully comprehensive quality department with senior CSWIP accreditation and an integrated management system. For every project we undertake, we provide a full QA dossier.”

It has a growing and enviable client list, including Lionweld Kennedy, Fabricom, Leadwoods, Conoco Phillips, Costain, Booths, Sirius/DMC, Addison and Lianhetech.

Danny added: “One of the original advertisements from Teesside Bridge Engineering works, posted over 60 years ago, stated, ‘Our strength lies in our proved ability to take on difficult and special work’. We are building this local company with the exact same mindset.”

And the prospects for 2021 and beyond? Steve is confident.

“Like a lot of lads in this area, my dad got me into this game, and I was lucky enough to work with his generation,” he says. “I’m 50 now and I still use that same work ethic.

“He would tell me, ‘If you’re going to do something, do it right’. We do everything to the highest standards, and it’s paying off.”

If Teesside Bridge Engineering can assist with your fabrication or site requirements, email enquiries@tbengineering.co.uk.