Our Newcastle office turns 30!
It’s hard to believe that we have had an office in Newcastle for 30 years. Even harder to believe is that I’ve been working there for all of them!
When we set up the office in 1988, the place to go was the Bigg Market, Newcastle United were in the old Second Division, and places like the quayside and the Ouseburn were complete
I remember taking an old college pal of mine to view a derelict property on the quayside and asking him if he was sure he wanted his company to invest in the area. The building now operates as an extremely successful hotel and bar!
Of course, that’s not the only change I’ve seen. The regeneration of the riverside has seen iconic buildings like the Sage, Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art join existing landmarks like the Tyne Bridge. The centre of town has also recently exploded with new build student accommodation and a more ‘user friendly’ approach to the city centre, which is supported by the NE1, Newcastle’s award-winning Business Improvement District company. In short, the transformation has been huge and a great improvement.
Our office is based at Hadrian House, with a team of 10. But it wasn’t always that way. After six months operating out of my kitchen in north shields, our first proper office was serviced offices in Gosforth. I say ‘our’ but at the time it was just me! Then after a growth spurt, our team of four moved to St Nicholas Chambers in summer 1989. From 1989 until 2008 we grew from four to 10 before making the move to Hadrian House.
For me, the first 30 years was merely setting the scene and creating the foundations for the office to grow into an even more important regional force. We have an ambitious team and in the last 18 months, we’ve seen significant changes in the diversity of sectors we work in and local projects we’re involved with.
Previously, much of our work was for major national retail clients, and for years we were known as ‘Sainsbury’s QS of choice’. But that’s now changed and today we’re working with residential, commercial, transport & infrastructure and education clients, as well as our large portfolio of retail schemes. We’re involved in many more local projects too. Thanks in part to my membership of Interact, a group of like-minded local property and construction professionals who meet on a regular basis to share ideas and leads, with the aim of winning new business for all the companies involved.
New and potential clients are constantly amazed at our impressive client list. I think our success is due to the fact we offer a local service with the backing of a large national consultancy. We have an outstanding team and it’s very rare that we don’t have experience of a project somewhere within the practice. That, coupled with a willingness to share skills and resources nationally, has produced a winning formula.
So why have I stayed for 30 years? I have an exciting workload and the practice has evolved and developed in such a positive way, particularly in the last 10 years. But it still retains its core values of being a practice that cares about its employees and wants to provide an outstanding service to clients.
Anyway, 30 years later on, the Bigg Market is a horrible place for a night out, Newcastle United are now in the Premier League, Henry Riley are going from strength to strength and I’m three stone lighter. What’s not to like!
By Paul Nixon, Partner, Henry Riley LLP