Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Concrete Utilities

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March 1960.
May 1960.

Agrecon of Ware, Herts.

1923 Company founded under the railway arches at Broxbourne Station by Charles Albert Marques. Marques was in partnership with Charles Reginald Belling and the company was started to make miscellaneous concrete products.

Later the company moved to Great Amwell in Ware, (where the Head Office still resides)

1925 Concrete Utilities Ltd. was formed

1930s Charles Marques invented a spun concrete process ideally suited to concrete column production and the company's total production was transferred to concrete columns. The first concrete columns in the UK were supplied to Liverpool in 1931 and columns of this type are still surviving today.

After the Second World War Robin Marques, Charles's eldest son, joined the company and two other factories were established in 1946 in Liverpool and South Wales. For many year just after the war labour was difficult to recruit in Ware and for several years the company recruited Italian workers who were housed in a company run hostel, many of those families still live in the area. In 1952 another factory was opened near Newcastle.

In 1954 a factory to produce luminaires was started in Ware.

David Marques, Charles's second son joined the company in the early sixties after a successful international Rugby career having played more than 30 times for England and for the British Lions.

The product range was extended in the 1960's to include farm buildings and bridges.

1960s Produced the first high mast lighting towers and established the High Mast Contract Services Division servicing roads, airports, docks, and stadiums throughout the world.

1962 The South Wales factory was transferred to Coleford and the factory near Newcastle closed

1970s Produced the first passively safe lighting columns and won the Queens Award for Export.

1976 Production was transferred from Ware to a new purpose built factory at Cleckheaton near Leeds

1978 William Marques, Robin's eldest son joined the company

1980s Produced the UK's first tapered tubular columns. Concrete Utilities changed its name to CU Lighting.

1985 Commenced production of tapered tubular steel columns using an automatic production facility installed at the Coleford factory

1985 Nicholas Marques, Robin's second son joined the company

1987 Name changed to CU Lighting Ltd, as the company no longer manufactured concrete columns and Concrete Utilities no longer reflected the production. CU Ware PLC is the parent company, which also controls Phosco Lighting Ltd, a manufacturer of street lighting and floodlighting luminaire equipment and Birch Engineering a specialist engineering company. The company often trades as CU Phosco Lighting.

1990s Established a joint venture in China, CU Beijing, producing High Mast and other lanterns for the Chinese market.

2000s Commenced the production of masts for wind turbines.

2010s Developing state of the art energy efficient LED Lighting Systems and other means to reduce energy consumption in the lighting industry.

2014 The company remains family owned and the major shareholders are the Grandsons of founder Charles Albert Marques; William, Nicholas and Philip Marques. William Marques is the present Chairman and Nicholas Marques is the Managing Director.

Additional Notes
During the 20s and 30s a cricket competition was held between al the companies in which C. R. Belling had an interest the Associated Cricket Trophy was played between Belling and Co, MK electric, Rogat Tool, Belling and Lee, Wootton and Co, Insulators and Concrete Utilities. The only companies which won it were Belling and Co (3 times) and Concrete Utilities (8 times).

James Arnold the son of Charles Arnold (MK Electric) married Margaret Marques the daughter of C. A. Marques.

See Also

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