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Dorset: Woodmace celebrates 35 years with 1,000th contract win

By Jo Whittle
12 February 2021

A civil engineering and groundworks specialist in southern England has marked its 35th anniversary with a series of contract wins.

Woodmace, which employs 150 staff and has a £25 million turnover, has completed hundreds of projects since its formation on February 14, 1986.


As well as civil engineering and groundworks, Woodmace provides full-site investigation services, from geotechnical to remedial works, also soil stabilisation, piling and reinforced concrete frame structures.

Sectors range from ports and docks, airports, residential and commercial to education, tourism, hospitality, leisure, defence and medical.

The most recent active schemes bring projects successfully undertaken by the company to 1,000.

In Hampshire, they include ABP Southampton’s latest cruise terminal and a state-of-the-art 7,314 sq m sports hub at Winchester College, a world-famous public school in the cathedral city of Winchester.

Assignments in Dorset include a car park at Dorchester Hospital, the Livingstone Academy School in Bournemouth, the former Old Poole Pottery site at Poole Quay and a luxury resident scheme at Sandbanks, Poole.

Headquartered in Poole, Woodmace works across the central-southern region of England – Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Oxford, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Joshua Eiles-Clarke, group MD at Woodmace, took over the business in January 2020, having worked for the business for 10 years. He said: “With a laser focus on client requirements and health & safety, we have successfully completed 1,000 projects over 35 years to date. Whilst this is a fantastic achievement, thanks to experienced and loyal staff, we are constantly looking ahead to maintain competitive advantage.”

Eiles-Clarke quipped: “You could call this a ‘sweetheart’ anniversary, given the business was formed on St Valentine’s Day."

He added "For decades Woodmace has provided a safe, reliable and cost-effective service to our clients. There is huge potential, though, to do even more through our collective expertise. We have the ability and know-how to deliver a one-stop-shop approach to civil engineering and groundworks, from site inspection right the way through to completion of reinforced concrete frame superstructures.

“Our ambition is to be the obvious choice for main contractors, local authorities and government departments. There is no reason that this shouldn’t happen as long as we keep doing what we’re good at.

“Ongoing improvements in technology and processes work in tandem with our commitment to personal development within our team, enabling us to continue to lead from the front within the industry. We are also leading the way by investing in new health & safety technologies for our plant and equipment to ensure operatives and plant work as safely as possible.”

Customers include Kier, Balfour Beatty, Bouygues, Brymor, Interserve, McCarthy & Stone, Morgan Sindall Construction, Pegasus Life, Rydon, Vinci and VolkerFitzpatrick.

Woodmace has been involved in some of the largest build projects of their kind in the region. They include English Heritage’s Stonehenge Visitor Centre, two gateway buildings for Bournemouth University in Bournemouth and Poole, Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, the Bh2 leisure complex in Bournemouth town centre, which includes the multiplex ODEON cinema, and a residential scheme in Poole Park, which included a reinforced concrete frame structure.

Due to the steep location, next to Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens, the Bh2 project involved excavating 40,000 cubic metres, with basement, drainage and hard landscaping.

The company also carries out defence-related work and specialises in medical buildings for radiographic cells and linear accelerators which use high-energy radiation to treat cancerous tumours.

Eiles-Clarke said: “Understanding customers’ requirements is key and Woodmace work to provide exceptional customer service.  Our knowledge and specialist skills offer value engineering solutions which can bring a cost-saving to projects.”

In a recent project, £700,000 was saved for a client in Dorset. – Woodmace stabilised the ground, instead of disposal, for a manufacturing and office facility.

Woodmace’s formation in 1986 came in the year that the UK and France agreed to build the Channel Tunnel, unemployment rose a post-war high of 14.4%, national newspaper Today was launched, Liverpool won the then first division league, GCSEs replaced O Levels and CSEs at secondary schools and a record 30m viewers watched ‘Dirty Den’ serve divorce papers on his wife Angie in BBC1’s Eastenders. Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative, was Prime Minister.