In Conversation with Mick Thackray
Mick Thackray, Training and Operations Supervisor at GB Access, has worked in the construction industry for over 55 years. Soon due to retire from GB Access, we caught up with Mick to find out more about his illustrious career.
Tell us how you became involved in the industry Mick.
I started working for Westminster Plant back in 1963 as an Apprentice Plant Fitter. At the time Westminster Plant formed part of the Costain Group and my job took me all over the UK on projects involving the construction of motorways, bridges and many other major civil projects including the M1, M4, M62, Severn Bridge and several airport runways. I have fond memories of being sat by the runway when Concorde landed at Heathrow for the first time. I was there for a total of nine years and loved every minute of it, but was unfortunately made redundant.
From there, I moved to a welding company as a Foreman Erector, working on the second Dartford Tunnel and several marine projects before the Thames Barrier could be built. I stayed for three years before moving to a small tower crane company in East London. In 1975 I moved to Hyperion Plant in Croydon and was a Service Engineer for general plant until I came across my first ever passenger hoist - the Wickham P108. I put up many many hoists and learnt the hoist game - sometimes the hard way! In 1980 I became self-employed and employed three colleagues, mainly working on quarry plant where Bluewater Shopping Centre now is.
I was self-employed for four years before I moved to CSG Mastclimbers as Foreman Erector working on equipment such as scissor lifts. I stayed at CSG for eight years before I was invited back to Westminster Plant to take over the Tower Crane and Hoists Department. I absolutely loved it and worked all over the country with hoists and several different types of cranes including crawlers, lorry mounts and of course tower cranes - my one true love after my wife Jill of course!
Whilst I was at Westminster Plant, I had a great trip to Bahrain to extend a tower crane. After 2001 Costain stopped supplying their own cranes and as was the case with many other major contractors, I was made redundant.
When did you start working for GB Access?
I started working for GB Access back in January 2002, and started off doing an instructor’s course at Bircham Newton. I have loved working for GB Access for the past 16 years and have had the opportunity to work on many great projects, above and below ground, including the Shard and many tunnels and lift shafts, which have become my speciality. I seem to have worked on nearly every major building in London, in some locations twice and even three times when the buildings have been demolished!
What have you enjoyed most about working for GB Access?
Definitely the people I’ve worked alongside. The sheer hard work, goodwill and skill of our workforce over the last 16 years or so has made this a company that a major plc wanted to buy.
What’s your advice to GB Access for the future?
To continue to make GB Access a leader in the industry. New technology, new equipment, training and the nurturing of our workforce are the way to go.
Would you recommend this job and working in the industry?
You bet I would. I’ve loved every minute! I think I’ve been very lucky – despite going through three major recessions and being made redundant a total of four times, I have never been out of work for more than a couple of days in 55 years. Thanks for the memories.