Marriotts Builders - History
A profile by an ex-employee stated that Robert Marriott was a farmer, master builder and bricklayer by trade. He usually wore tweed suits, soft trilby or duck-shooter hat and highly polished brown shoes or boots. He had a resonant voice and so was easily recognised. He usually addressed employees as "chappie" or "laddie" and was known respectfully as "the old man". He appeared to be hard but in fact was extremely fair. Any labourer applying for a job would be asked. 'Can you carry on the head? Can you use a hod? Can you scaffold? Can you drainlay? Can you excavate?'
Another ex-employee stated that the building Trade was picking up in 1937/38 with sites appearing all over the country. When the war broke out all private building was stopped and practically all domestic and industrial work dried up so it was difficult to maintain an effective work force. Mr. Alan Marriott and Mr. Philip Dickens went into the Army leaving Mr. J.A. Beale in a managerial and estimating capacity. Mr. Robert Marriott, although now in advanced years, was fully occupied in co-ordinating and general overall supervision. The main source of work in the war was for the War Department establishing facilities on Army camps and billets and maintenance and most orders come from D.C.R.E. at Northampton. A proportion was contractual but most urgent cases were on a daywork basis.
After the second World War more emphasis was placed on building houses and industrial plants. To meet these ends the company was built up so that it was more versatile, efficient and geared to high speed construction. Everyone from the managing director to the men in the yard was instilled with a spirit of admitting no difficulties or delays and with a pride in achievement and, most important, building up a team spirit. This spirit also encompassed the suppliers and sub-contractors who soon realised that any Marriott’s schedule would be adhered to rigidly, delays were not allowed. Top priority was given to pre-planning, sound organisation and site efficiency. This policy soon had an effect. Marriotts gained a reputation for high-speed building and as one project followed another so that reputation grew. A £200,000 school in Aylesbury was built in 12 months to the day; a £100,000 office block in Leicester was completed in similar time, while a 440,000 Luton College of Technology project was carried out in half the time originally envisaged. These are just examples; there are many other similar jobs and they are all a direct result of the policy underlying the planned build-up of the organisation. The policy that led to the establishment of the phrase ‘Marriott build fast’, not as a myth, but as a fact proven in bricks and mortar.
£1,000,000 Bucks County Council Offices. This was a 16 storey office block with a library block.
£1,500,000 Air Ministry Housing, Lakenheath. Four hundred and eight high quality houses for the United States’ Air Force personnel.
£700,000 Borocourt Hospital near Reading.
£1,000,000 R.A.F. Housing, Wyton. Forty six married officers quarters, two hundred and sixty seven airmen’s married quarters and sixty seven garages.
£320,000 Runcorn Belvedere Development. A thirteen storey block of flats with two storey accommodation for old people. Also a £220,000 extension to the Runcorn Town Hall.
£500,000 Northants County Council Serial Contract. Construction of seven schools and other buildings.
£350,000 Dane Park and Dane Acres Development. Forty high quality houses in Bishop’s Stortford.
£250,000 Wellingborough Technical College.
Milton Keynes City Church with a lead octagonal dome and accomodation for a mixed denomination congregation of 575 and an adjoining office development of two mirror image L shaped buildings, each of 4000 sq. Metres.
A £7 million housing contract for 2,200 families by Milton Keynes Builders Ltd., a member of the Marriott Group.
£400,000 factory built in Wellingborough
By 1990 contracts totalled an annual excess of £50m million. In its first hundred years Marriotts had built more than 10,000 houses and over 100 schools plus dozens of welfare centres, libraries and old people’s homes.
The primary business of the company was the building of projects between £100,000 and £2 million. There was also a flourishing Small Works Department carrying out lesser projects; a Northern Division based in Huddersfield. The policy of the company was to concentrate on contracts within a 70 mile radius of Rushden, with larger projects at a greater distance. The Northern Branch Office was developing in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire.
Marriotts had plant costing over £300,000 including mixers, dumpers and excavators. In the previous 12 months more than £75,000 had been invested in new plant and equipment.
Some of the Strange Reported Incidents over the Years
Beer bottles were found in the roof of Rushden Park Baptist Church built by Marriotts in 1904.
When some Marriott’s men were lodging in Edmonton in the 1930s one worker paid his rent on the dot every Friday evening. After a few weeks the landlady called the Police as she thought he was pinching the money, she had never been paid so promptly before.
Woburn Abbey 1979. A red van was charged at by an irate stag whose antlers went right through the door and side panels.
In the early days of transporting workmen daily one driver kept a bag on the end of a rope in his vehicle as he had to stop on the way to get water from a brook to fill his radiator.
A bricklayer was sent to a farm to build some cow sheds. He sent his apprentice out in the field with a 10 foot rod to measure some cows to make sure the sheds would be the right size.
When asked how high a step should be one of the bosses would lift his foot up and say ‘about so high’.
A painter had to cycle to Rushden with two large tins of paint on his handlebars. He was 3 minutes late and the Foreman stopped him a quarter of an hour’s money.