These were the main contractors for the various phases or areas of the Barbican development project.
Site clearance | Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons Limited
In 1962, using a fleet of tractor shovels, McAlpine cleared over 150,000 cubic yards of bombed ruins at a rate of over 4, 000 square yards a day.
Phase I | J Jarvis and Sons Limited
Phase I was the Public Services building (Milton Court).
Jarvis submitted the lowest tender of £467, 250 and won the contract for the Phase I work in April 1962. The contract did not go as planned. It was dogged by industrial relations problems and ran over the contractual completion date. There were constant worker ‘go slows’. Jarvis expected the delay to reach 6 months and, to avoid penalties for breach of contract, they invoked the clause in the building contract which allowed for extensions to be granted for delays due to labour problems. (I don’t have figures for the cost over-run for this phase.)
There were some related projects at the Phase I stage: Rerouting of railway – Higgs and Hill Limited; LEB sub-station – Holloway Brothers Limited (stage I) and Kia Limited (stage II).
Phase II | Turriff then John Laing Construction Limited
Phase II covered the western section of the South Barbican area. This meant Lauderdale Tower, the group of terraces round Thomas More Gardens including Thomas More House, Defoe House, Lambert Jones Mews and Seddon House; and it also included the City of London Girls School and extended further south to Mountjoy House, and the Wallside and Postern buildings.
The City Corporation were very keen on tendering. In 1962 they invited twelve contractors to submit tenders, and seven tenders were submitted. The highest was from Trollope and Colls. Both Turriff and John Laing came in about £1,500,000 lower, with only £3,000 between them. In the end Turriff got the contract for £6,000,000.
There were many strikes on Turriff’s site, including one infamous strike in 1965, and there were long delays in carrying out the project. Turriff was allowed to leave the site without completing its contract and John Laing Construction Limited agreed a price of £1,400,000 with the City to complete the project. Laing were to receive over £4,000,000 by the time the contract ended in 1974 – presumably the City had to shoulder the cost of delays caused by labour disputes. The total cost of Phase II to the City was over £14,000,000.
Phase III | John Laing Construction Limited
Phase III was broadly the mirror of Phase II but in the east. It included one tower – Cromwell Tower – and a group of terraces round the east end of the lake and garden: Speed House, Willoughby House, Brandon Mews, Andrews House and Gilbert House.
The City were not so keen on tendering this time. It was 1964 and building costs were on the increase. Since the building works in Phases II and III were similar, they reckoned they could short circuit the process and save time by going back to John Laing Construction Limited, the competing bidder for Phase II. They wanted to have a different contractor for Phase II, not go back to Turriff, because they did not want to be too reliant on one company. A deal was struck in March 1964 and Laing signed up to a five-year contract for just under £6,000,000.
But due to strikes and walkouts and problems with changes to the details of the specification, the final cost was over £11,500,000.
Phase IV | Myton Limited
Phase IV was the North Barbican area. It covered the John Trundle Court, Bunyan Court, and Bryer Court group, Ben Jonson House and Breton House, the YMCA Hostel (now Blake Tower) and the commercial premises below podium level.
Myton Limited, which was a subsidiary of Taylor Woodrow, won the contract by undercutting the opposition. The City had reverted to tendering. There were six tenders. The highest was £6,360,640; Myton were almost £300,000 lower than its nearest competitor, Trollope and Colls. The Myton three-year contract was awarded in November 1964 at a price of £5,581,022. (There was a separate smaller contract for clearing and pile the site which Mowlem won for £220,801. They did not bid for the main building contract.)
I don’t have figures for the final cost.
Phase V | John Laing Construction Limited
Phase V included the Arts complex and related buildings: the Barbican Arts Centre itself, Frobisher Crescent, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The contract was awarded to John Laing Construction Limited at a price of just under £14,000,000.
In terms of cost overruns however this phase outdid all others by a huge margin. The final cost by the time the Barbican Centre was ready to open in 1982 was £159,000,000 – more than ten times the original tender price of £14,000,000.
Phase Va | Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons Limited
Phase Va was just one building: Shakespeare Tower. I don’t have details of this contract.