Seymour Civil Engineering welcomes three new apprentices to the team

New apprentices join the team

New apprentices join the team

A CIVIL engineering specialist has given three students the opportunity to take their first step on the career ladder by taking them on as apprentices.

Klaudia Robinson, Sam Shaw and Lewis Hunt have all joined Seymour Civil Engineering as Apprentice Management Trainees.

They have all enrolled on the three-year Construction Built Environment course at Hartlepool College of Further Education, and will spend four days a week at Seymour with the remaining day based in the classroom to complete the academic part of the programme.

Klaudia, 17, from the King Oswy area of Hartlepool, left St Hild’s school to start her apprenticeship and will work with the Quantity Surveying team.

She said: “This is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a great opportunity, and hopefully I will learn enough to gain a job at the end of the three-year course.”

Sam, 16, a former High Tunstall College of Science student who comes from High Throston, will work in the Estimating department. He said: “I’m looking forward to getting started, because Seymour is one of the biggest businesses of its kind in the region and it would be a dream job for me if there was an opportunity at the end of the course.”

Lewis, 17 from Clavering, is another product of St Hild’s and will specialise in Repair & Maintenance. He said: “There are a lot of people in senior positions at Seymour who have started as an apprentice, and I see this as a real opportunity to get my foot on the career ladder and hopefully make progress.”

Kevin Byrne, Managing Director at Seymour Civil Engineering, is always keen to provide opportunities for young people and is delighted with the relationship his firm has with Hartlepool College.

He said: “I said when Klaudia, Sam and Lewis walked in that today was the first day of the start of their future.

“From my own point of view, at Seymour if we get an apprentice through the door then they learn from their very first day. They know the Seymour way, and pick up the good habits. It’s easier to give someone good habits than to try and take the bad habits they’ve learned away from them.

“I have a pyramid mentality when it comes to running this business, and I want them to build their way up that pyramid. We’re a local company working with a great local college to provide opportunities, and it gives me a lot of pride both personally and professionally to welcome them on board.”

Seymour is recognised as one of the North East’s leading civil engineering businesses, and employs a workforce in excess of 230 throughout the region.

The firm specialises in drainage, urban renewal projects, restoration and development work as well as sea defence and coastal protection work.

Darren Hankey, Principal at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “We have built up a great relationship with Seymour over the years, and we are delighted to be able to provide them with three apprentices for their Management Trainee scheme.

“There have been some real success stories from Seymour with apprentices going on to greater things within the company, and I wish Klaudia, Sam and Lewis all the best moving forward.”

Seymour Charity Ball a HUGE Success!

summer ball picAfter signing up to the Hartlepool Hospice Corporate Adoption Scheme, Seymour CEC have organised a number of events to raise much needed funds.

We organised a Charity Ball, held at the Staincliffe Hotel in Seaton Carew which had a Casino theme with Swing and Big Band entertainment throughout the night. With 100 people in attendance and support from our key suppliers, including Keyline, Jewson, Nixon Hire, Gap, Jet Aire, MGF, St Gobain, HCS Drain Services, Monks and Crane, North East Concrete, Lafarge Tarmac and Speedy Hire we raised over £7k.

Kevin Byrne, MD of Seymour CEC said “This was our first Charity Ball and it was a huge success. Everyone had a great night, but more importantly we raised over £7k for the hospice. We are proud to be their Corporate Partner and hope to raise more funds with other events throughout the year.

“Going the Extra Mile” in Customer Focus

Customer Focus Award Photo_Winner2Seymour were invited by Northumbrian Water to attend their annual “Going the Extra Mile” Awards 2014.

The awards scheme recognises excellence in delivery by organisations, teams or individuals that have gone the extra mile and were open to all of the NWL framework contractors, consultants and suppliers.

We were delighted to win the award in the Customer Focus Category for the Benfieldside Road Flood Protection Scheme in Consett.




Barkers Haugh Project wins ICE Robert Stephenson Award 2014

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East has highlighted projects across the region with accolades in this year’s prestigious Robert Stephenson Awards.

Projects in South Shields and Durham took the top two awards for 2014, with engineering work in Redcar and South Shields receiving commendations. Presented by the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Geoff French, at ICE North East’s annual dinner, the awards recognised projects in the Under £4m and Over £4m categories.Barkers Haugh - IMG_4439

In the Under £4m section, Northumbrian Water Ltd, Mott MacDonald, Montgomery Watson Harza Treatment Ltd, Seymour Civil Engineering Ltd, and AMEC Environment & Infrastructure UK Ltd took the top award for work to create a new inlet at Barkers Haugh Sewage Treatment Works, in Durham.

Seymour Leading the Way in “This is Civil Engineering” Campaign with the ICE

This is Civil Engineering

A flood alleviation site on Tyneside is the latest project in the North East to fly the flag on a new industry campaign to highlight civil engineering and its value to society.

The Chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East, Derek Smith, unveiled the ‘This Is Civil Engineering’ banners across the flood alleviation site in Hebburn which, when complete, will reduce the risk of flooding to 21 homes.

‘This Is Civil Engineering’ is a campaign devised by ICE to encourage public awareness of the work involved in designing and supporting the infrastructure which is all around them and which may otherwise go unnoticed.

The scheme in Mountbatten Avenue is being developed by Seymour Civil Engineering Contractors on behalf of Northumbrian Water. It is the first of four where the firm has committed to showcase the campaign.

‘This Is Civil Engineering’ banners are displayed during projects and immediately following completion of works. The banners feature a QR code linked to a dedicated page on the ICE website that explains what civil engineering is and what civil engineers do. The page also contains links to more detailed civil engineering information and navigation to the rest of the ICE website for those interested in becoming civil engineers.

Derek Smith, Chairman of ICE North East said:

“We are very proud of everything civil engineering contributes to the North East and we are delighted to be working with Seymour Civil Engineering on these important projects across the region.

“We are grateful to Seymour for supporting this initiative and we know there are more firms looking forward to getting involved and helping us to highlight the variety and importance of civil engineering to the general public.

“Most of us take for granted the contribution that civil engineering makes to society, but there is a very true saying, that ‘when you understand civil engineering, you see the world differently’. This is what this campaign aims to illustrate.”

Kevin Byrne, Managing Director of Seymour CEC said:

“Seymour are proud to be leading the way in supporting the “This is Civil Engineering” campaign. Often it’s only when infrastructure fails or is compromised that the industry’s importance is recognised.”

“We need more graduates and youngsters to enter the industry and the ICE campaign is an excellent way to raise awareness.”

Image above (L-R): Kevin Byrne, Managing Director, Seymour Civil Engineering Contractors Ltd, Andy McLaren, Investment Delivery Team Leader at Northumbrian Water, and Derek Smith, Chairman, ICE North East.

Kielder Quest Raises Thousands!

News Photo

An annual corporate fundraiser has been hailed as a great success after raising £5,700 to support services for disabled people, their families and carers.

Calvert Trust Kielder welcomed nine teams, including Northumbrian Water, Seymour Civil Engineering and UBS Wealth Management, for the ‘Kielder Quest’ challenge which involved physical and mental water and land based activities.

Teams of six battled through the instructor-led challenges, including Splash Dash, Plankety Blank and Jelly Legs, in a bid to take home the coveted first prize and Kielder Quest trophy.

Team Seymour came third in the event and hopes to take part next year and go for Gold!


Flood Fighting Kevin Byrne!

Kevin ByrneHow fortunate the North East has been – avoiding those nightmare floods and their aftermath elsewhere. But Kevin Byrne is under no illusion our region’s out of danger for good.

Byrne, whose company has saved hundreds of North East homes from such miseries and heartbreak in recent years – and whose flood alleviation makes every cloud someone’s silver lining – recalls Morpeth, Hexham and Newburn as having all been through it recently.

“There’s no room for complacency,” he declares. “I’m no supporter of theories that danger from water are all down to global warming. I believe it’s caused more by society’s ways in development – our abilities to concrete over everything for example. There’s no soak time in the fields now. We create the problem.”

Seymour Civil Engineering at Hartlepool, where Byrne is managing director, has been relieving or protecting Tyneside homes at Shiremoor, Longbenton and South Shields, and Cleveland homes at Loftus.

Byrne, who gained the helm in 2012 after 23 years with Seymour, says: “We joke that we’re so proud of our work as civil engineers that we bury it.

“We have structures underground you’d only recognise from seeing four manhole covers.

“Yet underneath will be something the size of four Olympic swimming pools storing water for release at a rate nature can cope with.

“The foresight of Victorian engineers was incredible. Capacity they created with vision was outstanding. But sewers not maintained and kept clean and efficient are effectively choked arteries.”

Coastal erosion menaces too. Here Seymour’s skills have safeguarded Berwick, Seaton Carew and Hartlepool. “All tidal work is fraught with dangers,” he points out, “both in safety and inundation. They’re the most critically planned jobs we do. Working with tides, you can’t do nine to five.”

Significantly, one of Seymour’s sibling companies in the parent Renew Group (in business since 1786) has the job of restoring the Devon-Cornwall mainline rail link recently washed away by the angry sea.

Is “pro-active” the watchword? Should alleviation be tackled before crises threaten? Yes, says Byrne. Northumbrian Water (NWL), providing about 70% of Seymour’s workload, is constantly tracking sub-surface blockages.

“They’re on record as best provider in the UK. Not everyone’s like them,” he regrets. “We’re often the contractor delivering a solution worked up by consulting engineers engaged by NWL after a catastrophic flood, such as on Thunder Thursday, when Newcastle Quayside was submerged two years ago.”

To protect homes and premises, several solutions will be considered, taking in topography and other physical constraints. The goal’s long life and low maintenance cost, hence pumping’s avoided if possible.

Seymour’s turnover is around £30m, against £2.5m when Byrne joined in 1989. Annual capital investment is £750,000, spent on new and innovative plant, especially for trunk mains cleansing.

Cleaning a stretch of mains pipe that once took three weeks can now be done in a day. How?

“We’re with a specialist sub-contractor who has developed an ice pigging process. They send a closely controlled slug of slushed ice through the pipeline. The detritus it removes from the pipe walls is absorbed into the ice. Clean ice in, dirty ice out.”

Twenty more staff will join 204 existing shortly. A former family firm taken over in 2007, Seymour runs as an autonomous profit centre, ruled at arm’s length depending on success. Being in a larger group, Byrne says, offers additional professional expertise, financial muscle for borrowing, and opportunities for service sharing. “We’re regarded as the civil engineer within the group,” he explains.

Seymour’s many awards have included a unique double – two top regional honours in the same year for its ending of flood misery that haunted residents of Newlands Court in South Shields. Do such kudos prosper a business? Or are they vanity trinkets? Byrne says: “They help win contracts. Our workforces enjoy the success and it develops healthy competition, showing the market our ability to deliver quality.”

Distinguished projects above ground have recently included restoring Sunniside Gardens in Sunderland as a public plaza, Saltburn promenade, heritage sites at Hartlepool – and remediation and construction at Grade I listed Cragside, the Rothbury home of Lord Armstrong, visionary inventor, scientist, engineer and businessman.

Byrne says: “Among other things there we rebuilt a water cascade that collapsed, I think, in 1926. We’ve done quite a bit for the National Trust – always interesting. We’ve a select team who enjoy that sort of work.”

Hence a benefit of employing only direct labour. “That way, I can sell a product I’m comfortable I can deliver. We offer job security despite vagaries of the market and have little turnover of staff. When the market reeled, we had to release people – very difficult – but we’re back up to strength. We will engage specialist sub-contractors, though.”

The industry’s next big challenge? “Skills shortage across the board. Massive experience has been lost over seven years. People returning now would meet an extremely technological age. I’m afraid some wouldn’t know what to do if the batteries ran out.”

To publicise sector opportunities, Seymour was first to sign up to ICE’s This is Civil Engineering campaign. Through Business in the Community, engagement is also made with schools, sports clubs and the local hospice, “Often it’s only when infrastructure fails or is compromised that the industry’s importance is recognised,” Byrne observes. “We want more graduates and youngsters with a mechanical bent. There’s no bar to career progress.”

He was lucky. “As a young guy from college I was on to building a liquefied natural gas plant at Isle of Grain in Kent. I had five fabulous years, gaining experience in almost every technique there. The project was in excess of £100m – in 1978. I was blessed – surrounded by fabulous workpeople. Didn’t think so at the time when they were shouting at me though…

“But I was taught by engineers and tradesmen, many of them Second World War ex-servicemen. Their candour, attitude and resourcefulness in looking out for one another, and their ability to train you without realising it, has been lost a bit.

“We may depend more on training programmes and competency reliance rather than direct mentoring now. But where we once engaged young people as trainee engineers they’re now known as management trainees, exposed to every department. If they love doing something in particular we’ll try to fit them there if we think that’s right for them. Business suit or boiler suit – all are equally viewed.”

Blackburn-born Byrne, now 55, may have a flash car and a nice home shared with his wife and two sons near Sedgefield. But he too continues to develop, having recently worked to become a Fellow of the ICE – “the ultimate accolade,” he suggests. “I never thought years ago I’d achieve that. But I’ve always wanted to progress as far as I could.”

Soon after becoming a director in 1996 he had responsibility for health and safety and became chartered in it – and still gives time to it.

“It’s a desire to get everybody home safely in the same condition they arrived at work in the morning,” he explains.

On setting out as a trainee/surveyor 36 years ago at 19, did he imagine he’d ever be a managing director?

“Not at all. But I was always driven.”


Engineering firm steps up its support for Hartlepool Hospice

Hospice AdoptionA TOWN civil engineering firm has stepped up its support for a charity by finalising a corporate sponsorship deal which will help to raise even more cash for the cause.

Seymour Civil Engineering, on Hartlepool Marina, has boosted the coffers of Hartlepool & District Hospice on dozens of occasions through a number of campaigns over the years.

And now the firm has taken its support to another level by signing up to the charity’s corporate adoption scheme, which will involve organising a number of events and fundraising activities every year.

Kevin Byrne, the company’s managing director, said: “Seymour has been based in Hartlepool for more than 35 years and employs a large amount of people from the local area. We wanted to focus our support on a local charity and after visiting the hospice and seeing first hand the amazing work they do for the community, it was the obvious choice.”

Carol Sennett, corporate fundraiser at the hospice, said: “Seymour have been key supporters of the hospice for many years and we are delighted that the work we do for the local community has been the inspiration for this.”

Seymour’s staff have already kickstarted their fundraising ideas and are in the process of organising a ball to be held in the summer. Hospice bosses say the support and generosity of companies such as Seymour will help to ensure the hospice’s vital work can continue.

Greatham FC made it to the Final!


Greatham FCWell done to Seymours Sponsored Under 10’s Football Team, Greatham FC.

After battling their way to the semi final of the Durham League Cup and beating Shildon AFC 1-0 they are on their way to Rockliffe Hall in May to play Bishop Auckland St Mary’s in the FINAL!

Good Luck Greatham FC from all at Seymour Civil Engineering!