Tarmac (company)
Tarmac is a company that is based in Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. For Eurostat purposes Walsall and Wolverhampton is a NUTS 3 region and is one of five boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "West Midlands" NUTS 2 region...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and operates internationally. The company produces aggregates
Construction Aggregate
Construction aggregate, or simply "aggregate", is a broad category of coarse particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates are the most mined material in the world...

 and road-surfacing materials, including tarmacadam
Tarmac is a type of road surface. Tarmac refers to a material patented by Edgar Purnell Hooley in 1901...

, from which the company's name is derived. It was formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

 and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index
FTSE 100 Index
The FTSE 100 Index, also called FTSE 100, FTSE, or, informally, the footsie , is a share index of the 100 most highly capitalised UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange....

 before being acquired by Anglo American.


The company was originally formed by Edgar Purnell Hooley as the Tar Macadam (Purnell Hooley's Patent) Syndicate Limited in 1903. The business was secured in 1905 by Sir Alfred Hickman
Sir Alfred Hickman, 1st Baronet
Sir Alfred Hickman was an industrialist and Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1885 and 1906....

, who became its first Chairman. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

 in 1922. The Company remained under the Chairmanship of members of the Hickman family until 1959 when Sir Charles Burman, a former Lord Mayor
Lord Mayor
The Lord Mayor is the title of the Mayor of a major city, with special recognition.-Commonwealth of Nations:* In Australia it is a political position. Australian cities with Lord Mayors: Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Parramatta, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong...

 of Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, took over that role.

Milestones in the expansion of the business included the acquisition of Derbyshire Stone in
1968, of Limmer Holdings
Limmer Holdings
-History:The Company was founded circa 1881 as the Limmer & Trinidad Lake Asphalt Company with the objective of undertaking road contracting using high quality asphalt from Limmer in France and from the Pitch Lake in Trinidad. The company was based in Carnwarth Road in Fulham and secured major...

 in 1971, of Mitchell Construction
Mitchell Construction
Mitchell Construction was once a leading British civil engineering business based in Peterborough.-History:The business was founded by F.G. Mitchell in London in 1933 as an offshoot of Mitchell Engineering, his engineering business. In 1940 the Company moved to Peterborough because of the...

 in 1973, of McLean Homes
McLean Homes
-History:The Company was established by John McLean in 1934 with the objective of building houses for local authorities. In 1953, trading as John McLean & Sons, the Company opened one of the first fully furnished show homes in the UK...

 in 1974 and of Holland, Hannen & Cubitts
Holland, Hannen & Cubitts
Holland, Hannen & Cubitts was a major building firm responsible for many of the great buildings of London.-History:It was formed from the fusion of two well-established building houses that had competed throughout the later decades of the nineteenth century but came together in 1883: this was...

 in 1976.

The business expanded so rapidly in the 1980s that at its peak it had an annual turnover in excess of £3 billion and employed over 30,000 people: at that time it was a broadly-based industrial group active in building materials, housebuilding and construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...


By the early 1990s it had over-extended itself and in 1992 it reported significant losses. In 1994, Tarmac acquired PSA Projects (formerly part of the UK government's Property Services Agency
Property Services Agency
The Property Services Agency was an agency of the United Kingdom government, in existence from 1972 to 1993. Its role was to “provide, manage, maintain, and furnish the property used by the government, including defence establishments, offices, courts, research laboratories, training centres and...

) which formed the nucleus of a grouping of services businesses, Tarmac Professional Services. In 1996 it disposed of its housebuilding activities to George Wimpey
George Wimpey
George Wimpey was formed in 1880 and, based in Hammersmith, operated largely as a road surfacing contractor. The business was acquired by Godfrey Mitchell in 1919 and he developed it into the UK’s pre-eminent construction and housebuilding firm. In 2007, Wimpey merged with Taylor Woodrow to create...

 under a swap agreement which enabled Tarmac to acquire Wimpey's building materials and construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...


The company became a subsidiary of Anglo American plc
Anglo American (mining)
Anglo American plc is a global mining company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is a major producer of diamonds, copper, nickel, iron ore and metallurgical and thermal coal and the world's largest producer of platinum, with around 40% of world output...

 in October 1999, three months after Tarmac had demerged its construction and professional services arm to form Carillion: this move left Tarmac as a focused building materials company.

In August 2007 Anglo American announced it was to sell the business but in February 2008 went on to report that it was putting the sale on hold. In June, Tarmac Iberia was sold to Holcim
Holcim is a Swiss-based global company supplying cement and aggregates . The company also supplies ready-mix concrete and asphalt including associated construction services.-Holcim Group:...


In 2010, Anglo American sold Tarmac's European concrete aggrigates business to Eurovia; it also sold its Polish concrete products business to the private equity firm Innova Capital. . A few months later, the French concrete products business was sold to the private equity firm Fondations Capital.

In 2011, Anglo-American announced a proposed joint venture with Lafarge
Lafarge is a French industrial company specialising in four major products: cement, construction aggregates, concrete and gypsum wallboard. In 2010 the company was the world's second-largest cement manufacturer by mass shipped behind Holcim.-History:...

 that involved combining both companies' UK aggregates businesses.


The company is organized into three divisions: Tarmac, Tarmac Building
In architecture, construction, engineering, real estate development and technology the word building may refer to one of the following:...

 Products and Tarmac Middle East.

Major projects

Projects undertaken by or involving Tarmac Construction prior to demerger of that business in 1999 included the Preston Bypass
M6 motorway
The M6 motorway runs from junction 19 of the M1 at the Catthorpe Interchange, near Rugby via Birmingham then heads north, passing Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and terminating at the Gretna junction . Here, just short of the Scottish border it becomes the A74 which continues to...

 completed in 1958, the St Albans Bypass completed in 1960, the Thames Barrier
Thames Barrier
The Thames Barrier is the world's second-largest movable flood barrier and is located downstream of central London. Its purpose is to prevent London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the sea...

, the Joint European Torus
Joint European Torus
JET, the Joint European Torus, is the largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment worldwide currently in operation. Its main purpose is to open the way to future nuclear fusion experimental tokamak reactors such as ITER and :DEMO....

 and Drax Power Station all completed in 1984, the Conwy Road Tunnel
A55 road
The A55, also known as the North Wales Expressway, is a major road in Britain. Its entire length is a dual carriageway primary route, with the exception of the point where it crosses the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait. All junctions are grade separated except for two roundabouts — one...

 completed in 1986, the Albert Dock refurbishment
Albert Dock
The Albert Dock is a complex of dock buildings and warehouses in Liverpool, England. Designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick, it was opened in 1846, and was the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood...

 completed in 1988, the Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is deep...

 completed in 1994, the Medway Road Tunnel
Medway Tunnel
The Medway Tunnel is a tunnel under the River Medway linking Strood with Chatham in Kent, England. It forms part of the Medway Towns Northern Relief Road...

 completed in 1996 and Canary Wharf tube station
Canary Wharf tube station
Canary Wharf tube station is a London Underground station on the Jubilee Line, between and . It is in Travelcard Zone 2 and was opened by Ken Livingstone setting an escalator in motion on 17 September 1999 as part of the Jubilee Line Extension. It is maintained by Tube Lines...

 completed in 1999.

Tarmac and sustainability

Tarmac, now focused on the provision of building materials, offers several products that were specifically developed in response to the need for sustainable solutions:
  • TarmacDry: a porous paving system which allows rainwater to infiltrate through the surface and be stored for other uses which was developed in response to the increasing issues of flash flooding and the need to save water.

  • Topforce: a reinforced concrete
    Reinforced concrete
    Reinforced concrete is concrete in which reinforcement bars , reinforcement grids, plates or fibers have been incorporated to strengthen the concrete in tension. It was invented by French gardener Joseph Monier in 1849 and patented in 1867. The term Ferro Concrete refers only to concrete that is...

    eliminating the use of steel reinforcement. The Carbon Dioxide of the synthetic macro fibres used in Topforce is 70% lower than that of steel fabric mesh reinforcement.

Further reading

  • The Story of Tarmac by Berry Ritchie published by James & James (Publishers) Ltd, 1999
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