Founded in 1923, Guy Mabey registers Mabey & Johnson Ltd - a general building supplies business servicing new construction in South East England. After surveying the housing boom in the south east from the air, using the piloting experience of his eldest son Dennis, Guy Mabey is able to expand the Mabey & Johnson business with new depots in Dagenham, Sevenoaks, Cheam and Worthing, placing new depots close to the centres of construction work.
Dennis Mabey is tragically killed in action in November 1939 after joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve.Back to top
Donald Bailey designs an alternative bridge to the complicated and expensive Inglis Bridge system. When the full prototype of the Inglis Mark III Bridge fails during testing, Bailey is given the go-ahead to develop his new bridging concept. A prototype Bailey Bridge is successfully load tested and the first example is delivered to troops in the field during December 1941.
Bevil Mabey follows his older brother into service and enlists in the Royal Signals. He embarks on a successful military career in which he reaches the rank of Major. It is at this time that Bevil Mabey, still with the Royal Signals, encounters the Bailey Bridge for the first time and recognises its potential.
On leaving the army in 1946, Bevil Mabey joins Mabey & Johnson and immediately starts to find new products and routes to market for Mabey & Johnson.Back to top
Bailey Bridging made an immense contribution towards ending World War II. As far as my own operations were concerned, with the eighth Army in Italy and with the 21 Army Group in North West Europe, I could never have maintained the speed and tempo of forward movement without large supplies of Bailey Bridging
Field Marshal MontgomeryBack to top
In 1951, Guy Mabey dies after devoting 28 years to the company. Bevil Mabey now steps into the senior role.
In the post-war years, Mabey & Johnson acquires 5000 tonnes of modular steel trestle units as well as large amounts of Bailey Bridging from government surplus sales.
Throughout the 1950s, Bevil Mabey's commitment to engineering sees the first in-house developments including the Multi-Clamp and the world's first steel Soldier system, which is much-copied by construction product companies around the world.
In 1955, the company expands with the first ever export sale - the supply of a large quantity of ex-government Bailey Bridging to a natural gas pipeline project in Pakistan.
Anticipating a growing interest from contractors in the rental of construction equipment, Mabey Hire Ltd is incorporated in 1958, with Hatfield as its first depot.Back to top
Mabey & Johnson purchases the Chepstow site of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, renaming the business Fairfield Mabey Ltd. This places Mabey at the forefront of steel fabrication for major infrastructure projects including the Severn Bridge, with its groundbreaking aerodynamic box deck, and the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde, the longest span cable-stayed bridge in the world at this time.
In 1967, Thomas Storey's sole rights to manufacture panel bridging based on the Bailey concept expires and Mabey Super Bailey Panel is launched. It is an instant success amongst civil engineering contractors requiring stronger bridges to carry bigger earth moving equipment.Back to top
Fairfield-Mabey engineers design and build two hovercraft at Avonmouth to carry 80 tonne box girders with ease over very soft ground. This was the first use of hovercraft technology in heavy construction.
In the mid-seventies, development work starts on the Mabey Universal Bridging System. Based on a panel size significantly larger than the standard Bailey system it becomes widely used in America.
Mabey Hire expands the product range with new innovative forms of ground support such as the Mabey Strongbox.Back to top
The Compact 100 bridge system, using higher yield strength steel and a much lighter and stronger decking system is launched in 1981, followed in 1988 by the Compact 200 system with improved capacity and span. Robot welding is introduced at the Lydney factory, providing cost effective high-quality welding.
A Mabey Universal bridge to Ellis Island is installed in 1986 to enable refurbishment as a tourist attraction. It remains in use for service vehicles today.
The company continues to grow and Mabey Holdings is incorporated in 1985 to rationalise a growing portfolio of operating companies. It acquires Platts Forge, an established supplier to Mabey & Johnson and establishes Beachley Properties as a focus for the Group's property interests. It acquires the Lydney Industrial Estate, home to many small businesses and the Mabey modular bridge factory. And Mabey chooses Baltimore, Maryland as the base for its new US-based subsidiary Mabey Bridge Inc., incorporated in 1989.
Bevil Mabey is awarded the CBE in the 1984 New Year's Honours List.Back to top
Throughout the 1990s, Mabey continues to innovate and grow with the introduction of new products and acquisitions.
1991:The first Mabey Flyover is built in Sweden, providing an "instant" over-bridge to enable construction work to continue whilst heavy traffic moves overhead.
1992: Mabey Support Systems, now part of Mabey Hire, releases the new 20m Quickbridge with the first hire on the M5/M50 junction improvement.
1994: Following the introduction of the Group's groundworks products to the US company's rental inventory, the company is re-registered as Mabey Bridge & Shore Inc to reflect the increase in the company's capability.
1996: Mabey & Johnson secures the contract to supply 17 Compact 200 Bridges to the NATO Implementation Force in Bosnia. On average, bridge deliveries to Bosnia take just two weeks from order, greatly assisting the rapid re-opening of infrastructure to enable aid to be delivered after the war.
1997: Mabey Holdings purchases Murray Plant, a rental company operating from two depots in Scotland. Murray Plant enjoyed a strong reputation north of the border and now operates as part of Mabey Hire.
1998: Bridge supply starts to the HS1 project (Channel Tunnel Rail Link). 24 bridges are delivered over 10 contracts between 1998 and 2004.Back to top
Mabey Bridge and Shore Inc opens a matting division with the purchase of Florida Mat Rentals in 2001.
The Delta Bridge is launched in 2002 and becomes established as the modular bridge of choice for long spans and permanent applications.
The US Army choose the Mabey Logistics Support Bridging system to develop new infrastructure in Iraq, providing access for military and civilian vehicles, including delivery of the necessary aid and reconstruction equipment. Approximately 6000m of bridging are supplied from 2003 to 2009.
Propping activity continues to grow in the US, supported by the local engineering team. In 2005 Mabey supplies five 80 ft support towers to carry an interstate highway after a pier failure.
Bevil Mabey makes his last site visit to the Swale Crossing at the age of 89. Mr Mabey had already passed control of the business to his children and the Group remains in the private ownership of the Mabey family.
Mabey Hire expands the Barrierguard fleet to meet the demand in Scotland on the A80 Stepps to Haggs widening project; meanwhile Mabey & Johnson completes 1500 bridges in the Philippines under the Presidents Bridge Programme.
Then in 2009, Mabey Bridge is formed from the merger of Mabey & Johnson and Fairfield Mabey to create a single world-class manufacturer of all forms of steel bridging.Back to top
Bevil Mabey (1916-2010) dies aged 94 after dedicating so much of his life to creating a world-beating group of companies, combining the very best of British engineering, manufacturing, dynamism and determination.
Read Bevil Mabey's biography
Mabey Bridge enters the renewable energy industry with an investment at Newhouse near Chepstow. The first completed wind turbine tower sections leave the manufacturing facility for installation at the Marr wind farm site in South Yorkshire in 2011.
Mabey supplies a large bridge to North Carolina after Hurricane Irene creates a new ocean inlet through Hatteras Island.
In 2012, Mabey Bridge is the first company in the world to have an externally accredited anti-corruption management system to BS10500.
In its 22nd year, Mabey Bridge & Shore Inc changes its name to Mabey Inc and opens a new Customer Training Centre in Orlando, Florida.
21 bridges are supplied to the London Olympics site by Mabey Bridge and 7 temporary footbridges are provided by Mabey Hire for the duration of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Under a mandate for strong business growth, Mabey Holdings acquires Australian and New Zealand aluminium shoring specialist A-Plant Hire, creating Mabey Hire Pty in 2013. The aluminium ground safety systems are now available worldwide through Mabey Hire and Mabey Inc.
In 2015, Mabey Bridge restructures, closing the Chepstow and Newhouse factories, in order to focus on its modular bridging business which has a global market. Mabey Hire launches two new business divisions - Major Projects, servicing large groundworks projects and LIVE Instrumentation, offering structural and environmental monitoring services.Back to top