Swindon construction stalwart retires after seven decades in the business

By Barrie Hudson - 6 January 2021

BusinessCommunity

One of the most well-known figures in the construction business in the South West has retired from his family firm after 70 years.

  • Alan Beard has steered the family firm from strength to strength

    Alan Beard has steered the family firm from strength to strength

One of the most well-known figures in the construction business in the South West has retired from his family firm after 70 years.

Alan Beard was the third-generation head at the helm of the Swindon-based construction firm started by his grandfather, which continues to bear the family name.

Today, Beard is an award-winning construction company, operating across the region with a turnover of £160million and offices in Swindon, Oxford, Guildford and Bristol.

It has come a long way since Alan first joined the family firm at the age of 17 in January of 1950, when he started working with his father, Geoffrey, at Newcombe Beard Ltd in Cirencester.

Over the years Alan has been responsible for overseeing many memorable building projects but it was his work in the ecclesiastical sector his son Mark, now chairman of Beard, said was particularly important to him. 

Mark said that as was an active member of the church community, such work was "...part of his DNA."

Mark added: “We celebrated our 125th anniversary in 2017, which prompted Alan to write a book about the history of the company. 

"The fact that we reached this milestone is testament to his expert stewardship over 70 years - a remarkable landmark to reach in itself.

“My father withdrew from being actively involved with the business a short while ago. His influence is all around us and many of the principles he fostered are still woven into the fabric of the business. 

“For me personally it is his keen eye for detail that has shaped the approach we take to our work throughout the business.

“Alan is somebody not only well known in the industry and the region, but also in the community in which he lives, where he has always found time to be part of the Rotary Club, and an active church member and leading light on the local political scene.”

The pinnacle of Alan’s success in the sector is arguably the Bishop Edward King Chapel at Cuddesdon in Oxfordshire. Completed in 2013, the multi-award-winning elliptical structure was described by him as one of the most interesting, complex and technically challenging construction projects in recent years.

The education sector was another growth area that Alan oversaw, with contracts at prestigious schools around the region including Eton, Marlborough and Radley colleges as well as a wide variety of projects for the University of Oxford. 

It was also an area where he saw great potential for talent which led to a programme for school leavers and university graduates looking to start their careers in construction, and remains in the form of the trainee scheme today.

Over his seven decades in the business, during which there have been national crises, recessions and boom times, it has been a time of steady expansion for Beard. 

During that time the firm has gone from two offices to four, entered new sectors such as education, healthcare and culture, and - Mark said - become established as a business with a strong ethos.

Beard's reputation for quality work and fair treatment of customers, suppliers and colleagues, said Mark, was part of Alan's legacy alongside sharp-eyed attention to detail which is an intrinsic part of how Beard does business.

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