About Bevil Mabey
Always remember that in 25 years' time we won't be doing it this way. If we are we shall be facing extinction!
Bevil Mabey CBEBack to top
Bevil Mabey was born in 1916, in Richmond, Yorkshire. He was one of three children, with a sister and an older brother (sadly killed in action early in World War II). Bevil’s father owned a small builders merchants, Mabey & Johnson Limited.
Bevil was educated at Tonbridge School and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he took an honours degree in Anthropology, Archaeology and History. He then joined the Army, serving for seven years in France, North Africa, Sicily and Italy, ultimately achieving the rank of Major.
After leaving the Army, Bevil joined his father to help him run the family business, eventually taking over completely. Over sixty years, he built the original small business into a successful privately-owned group of companies offering a range of products for sale or hire in construction markets world-wide. For more than a decade, the group’s turnover has been consistently in excess of £100m and it has more than 800 employees.
Bevil Mabey’s influence over the design process and his ability to grasp engineering concepts were undoubtedly a major factor in creating the Company’s success. The Company has six Queen’s Awards for Export Achievement (1973, 1978, 1982, 1987, 1998 and 2002). In 1984, Bevil Mabey personally received a CBE for services to the export industry. Following Bevil’s lead, the Company continues to invest in product development, advanced production equipment and new ventures, to remain ahead of its many competitors around the world.
From the original Mabey and Johnson business, a number of non-mechanical plant hire businesses have evolved, including Mabey Hire in the UK, Mabey Inc. in the US and Mabey Hire Pty in Australia. These businesses follow Bevil Mabey’s principles of developing excellent products and providing good quality sales and engineering support. These principles, together with high levels of service, help the hire businesses to stay ahead of their competition in this specialist market.
Another evolution from Mabey and Johnson Limited is Mabey Bridge. Under Bevil Mabey’s guidance, this Company further developed the iconic wartime ‘Bailey Bridge’. Based on the original temporary construction, Mabey's engineers designed a permanent structure that used the latest materials and production techniques yet retained the basic simplicity of the original Bailey Bridge.
In 1966, Bevil Mabey bought the ailing Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, preserving 300 jobs in Chepstow, South Wales. In the 1970s, this Company built two 12,000-tonne box girder bridges, the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde in Glasgow and the Avonmouth viaduct that carries the M5 over the Avon. It also built a large section of the Humber and Severn Bridges. More recently, the company provided 46 bridges for the M6 Toll Road and constructed the new 200 metre-span Usk Crossing in Newport.
Bevil Mabey created a world-class group of companies combining the very best of British engineering, manufacturing, dynamism and determination. The success of the Mabey Group lies in the common thread Bevil Mabey wove through all his companies: invest in product design, production techniques and people and strive for excellence. Above all, Bevil Mabey valued people, investing in their development and rewarding their effort and initiative, especially his junior staff.
Bevil and his family supported a wide range of community activities and charities, particularly those working with the young and underprivileged. Bevil Mabey himself was especially interested in projects that called for initiative and effort, such as Operation Raleigh and Camp Mohawk.
Bevil and his wife lived by the sea in West Wittering, Sussex for over fifty years. Penny Mabey died in 2002 and Bevil Mabey in April 2010.