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Industry Construction
Business services
Fate Acquired
Successor Carillion
Founded 1822
Defunct 2006
Headquarters London, UK
Key people
Joe Darby, (Chairman)
Sir John Gains, (CEO)
Number of employees

Mowlem was one of the largest construction and civil engineering companies in the United Kingdom. Carillion bought the firm in 2006.


Founded by John Mowlem in 1822, the company was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1902 and went public on the London Stock Exchange in 1924. A long-standing national contractor, Mowlem developed a network of regional contracting businesses including Rattee & Kett of Cambridge (bought in 1926); E. Thomas of the west country (bought in 1965); Ernest Ireland of Bath; and the formation of a northern region in 1970. During the Second World War the company was one of the contractors engaged in building the Mulberry harbour units.[1]

Mowlem acquired SGB Group, a supplier of scaffolding, in 1986.[2] Mowlem also bought Unit Construction in 1986, giving the firm a substantial presence in private housebuilding - within two years, sales were up to an annual rate of 1,200. The ensuing recession led to losses of over £180m between 1991 and 1993 and banking covenants came under pressure. The housing division was sold to Beazer in 1994.[3]

Mowlem was bought by Carillion in February 2006.[4]

Major Projects[edit]

Major projects undertaken by or involving Mowlem in the 19th century included Billingsgate Fish Market completed in 1874,[5] Smithfield Fruit Market completed in 1882,[5] the Imperial Institute completed in 1887[5] and Liverpool Street station and the Great Eastern Hotel completed in 1891.[5]

Tower 42 Built by Mowlem

Major projects undertaken by or involving Mowlem in the first half of the 20th century included the Institution of Civil Engineers completed in 1911,[6] Admiralty Arch completed in 1912,[5] the Port of London Authority Building completed in 1919,[7] Bush House completed in 1923,[8] the London Post Office Railway completed in 1927,[9] Piccadilly Circus tube station completed in 1928,[6] Battersea Power Station completed in 1933,[8] the reconstruction works at Buckingham Palace in 1943 following bomb damage[7] and the reconstruction of the House of Commons in 1947 also following bomb damage.[7]

Later works included the William Girling Reservoir completed in 1951,[10] Hunterston A nuclear power station completed in 1957,[11] the Strand Underpass completed in 1962,[8] Millbank Tower completed in 1963,[6] the reconstruction of 10 Downing Street in 1963,[7] a new nave and altar for Westminster Abbey in 1966,[6] London Bridge completed in 1972,[12] the Natwest Tower completed in 1979,[13] Mount Pleasant Airfield completed in 1986,[14] London City Airport completed in 1986,[15] the Docklands Light Railway completed in 1987,[16] the Manchester Metrolink completed in 1991,[17] the refurbishment of Thames House completed in 1994,[18] the refurbishment of the Albert Memorial completed in 1998,[19] the Spinnaker Tower completed in 2005[20] and the Dublin Port Tunnel completed in 2006.[21]

Mowlem was also the owner and developer of London City Airport.[15]

See also[edit]

  • John Mowlem - Biography of the founder of the company
  • George Burt - Biography of his successor as manager of the company
  • Edgar Beck - Biography of chairman then president between 1961-2000
  • Frank Baines History of John Mowlem unpublished typescript history held at London Metropolitan Archives


  1. ^ Hartcup, p. 94
  2. ^ Notes on Financial Times Actuaries Index 1986
  3. ^ Wellings, Fred: Dictionary of British Housebuilders (2006) Troubador. ISBN 978-0-9552965-0-5,
  4. ^ Construction firms agree takeover BBC News, 2006
  5. ^ a b c d e Mowlem 1822 - 1972, p.4
  6. ^ a b c d Mowlem 1822 - 1972, p.7
  7. ^ a b c d Mowlem 1822 - 1972, p.8
  8. ^ a b c Mowlem 1822 - 1972, p.6
  9. ^ "Sign in to Photo Forums". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Smith, Denis. Civil Engineering Heritage: London and the Thames Valley, p.70. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "nuclear-sc-wl". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Mowlem 1822 - 1972, p.9
  13. ^ Mowlem dives into the red Evening Standard, 4 February 2005
  14. ^ "About the Falklands". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Mowlem sighs with relief on pounds 15.5m disposal The Guardian, 31 October 1995
  16. ^ "Docklands Light Railway (D.L.R.)". Exploring 20th Century London. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  17. ^ "Past, Present and Future" (PDF). Metrolink. 2003. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  18. ^ "Thames House and Vauxhall Cross". National Audit Office. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Mowlem for Albert". Construction News. 3 November 1994. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth - Building #406". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Dublin Port Tunnel settlement - TunnelTalk". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 


  • Hartcup, Guy (2011). Code Name Mulberry: The Planning Building and Operation of the Normandy Harbours. Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 978-1848845589. 
  • Mowlem 1822 - 1972 - company brochure