DEMOLITION COMPANY SQUIBB IS UNIQUELY PLACED TO UNDERSTAND THE PARTICULAR DIFFICULTIES OF MOVING HEAVY VEHICLES AROUND THE UK’S CAPITAL. KNOCKING-DOWN OLD LONDON FOR ALMOST 70 YEARS, IT HAS A FLEET OF SPECIALIST MACHINES WEIGHING UP TO 100T EACH. MARGO COLE LEARNS HOW THE COMPANY DEALS WITH THE BUSY, CONGESTED CITY ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS.
Squibb’s roots date back to before WWII, when Harry Squibb made his living carrying rubbish and other waste materials from east London and the docks, using a horse and cart. Called up to serve in the army during the war, when he came back he found most of his business now involved clearing rubble and demolishing buildings – bomb-damaged by the Blitz – in the East End and docks. He founded H Squibb & Son in Stepney, in 1948, on the back of a programme to clear East End tenement blocks.
The company has continued to grow, with two more generations of the Squibb family joining the business: it now has a turnover of around £40M a year. Milestones in the company’s 67-year history include being the first demolition company to be awarded a licence to work with asbestos, and the opening three years ago of an office in Qatar.
Although no longer based in the East End – they moved further east to Barking in 1999 – Squibb is still very much a London-based firm. Most of its demolition turnover derives from contracts in the capital. It has long term relationships with many of the city’s major developers, such as the Berkeley Group, as well as frameworks agreements with London boroughs.
While Squibb saw a slight lull in activity during the credit slump, current business is at an all time high, according to the company’s transport manager Richard Abbas. “Now the country seems to have reemerged from recession, we’re in a period of financial stability. It seems that a lot of regeneration projects are being forward-planned,” he says. The nature of these regeneration projects means that Squibb often finds itself working in highly-built up areas, where existing poor-quality housing is demolished to be replaced with modern homes.