Family of Cleveland Bridge’s Victorian founder marvel at growth of company over past 150 years
Cleveland Bridge UK welcomed the descendants of the company’s founding father on a visit to its expansive production facility and headquarters in Darlington, County Durham.
The family of Donald Dixon were able to see for themselves just how far the company has progressed since their ancestor Henry Dixon led 11 workers out of the failing Skerne Ironworks in 1877 before later buying it out.
In the early months, the fledgling company, built on the site of a strawberry field on the outskirts of the town, survived month to month and returned a profit of just £1 5s and 9d at the end of its first year.
However, Henry, the younger son of the Sheffield firm of James Dixon and Sons, began aggressively promoting its expertise abroad and quickly secured orders for bridges in Brazil and Australia.
Cleveland Bridge UK went on to help create some of the world’s most iconic structures, such as the Victoria Falls Railway Bridge and the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge and, more recently, the Shard in London and the Queensferry Crossing in Scotland.
It now employs more than 300 highly-trained staff and apprentices at its 22-acre site, which has the capacity to manage multiple projects at any one time within its 27,000 square metre production facility to ensure high levels of productivity to meet project timescales.
This has enabled the company to secure a strong forward order book and continue to build on its impressive financial results from the past two years. Cleveland Bridge UK now part of the Al Rushaid Group achieved profits of £4m for the financial year ending December 2016, an increase of £1.5m on the previous year, and secured a number of major UK and international projects.
Chris Droogan, Managing Director of Cleveland Bridge UK, said: “It was wonderful to meet the descendants of Henry Dixon and to remind ourselves that this company was built on his vision, determination and ingenuity.
“We have come a long way in those intervening 141 years, but we still maintain those values while continuing to invest and innovate to meet the challenges of the modern world keeping the company at the forefront of global industry.”
Georgina Tregoning, eldest Daughter of Donald Dixon said “My siblings and I were so pleased to have been given this opportunity to look round the factory and to see how the business is thriving. We wish the team good luck for the future and will keep a close watch on the company as it goes from strength to strength.”