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ABOUT THE GROUP

Our Story - The History behind Thomas Armstrong Group
From 1830 to Today

Thomas Armstrong Group has been building the future since 1830, not just in the physical construction of buildings and homes, but also in directly supporting people’s lives across the North of England. This is why our heritage is an important part of our business every day.

This section allows you to discover the story behind Thomas Armstrong and how it has become the successful company it is today. It showcases industry achievements, acquisitions as well as key highlights that have occurred since 1830. It also includes developing an innovative solution called 'The Clinecon Building Block' in 1950, our concrete block plant in Cross Green Leeds achieving the highest possible rating of 'Excellent' to the Responsible Sourcing standard BES 6001. This is only the second block plant anywhere to have ever achieved this, the first being our Airtec Aerated block plant in Catterick and so much more.

Thomas Armstrong Concrete Blocks rebrand
2019 - Sellite Blocks Limited Acquisition, Great Heck
2017 - Concrete Block Plant Investment, Leeds
2015 - Industry-first BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing 'Excellent' rating achieved
2015 - Industry-first BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing 'Excellent' rating achieved
2015 - Lakeland Pavers Acquisition
2014 - Acquisition of Cardewmires Quarry, Dalston
2007 - CHC Floors Limited Acquisition
2004 - Catterick Block Plant Built and Comissioned
2020
THOMAS ARMSTRONG (CONCRETE BLOCKS) LTD REBRAND
The beginning of 2020 saw various offices and companies which were acquired over the years rebranded. The following companies will now fall under the Thomas Armstrong (Concrete Blocks) Ltd name reinforcing a unity and strong brand:
  • Stocks Bros Ltd - Leeds
  • Sellite Blocks Limited - Great Heck
  • William Rainford (Holdings) Ltd - Aintree
  • Barnetts (Buglawton) - Congleton
  • Lakeland Pavers - Penrith
2019
SELLITE BLOCKS LIMITED ACQUIRED
In February 2019, the Group acquired Sellite Blocks Limited; a Yorkshire based building block manufacturer which we secured in Great Heck, near Leeds.

This was a well-established and highly regarded building block manufacturer of eco-friendly building blocks, it has served national house builders and builders merchants for over 60 years and has an annual turnover of approximately £5 million.
2017
BRAND NEW BLOCK PRODUCTION FACILITY IN LEEDS
The construction of a brand new £12 million high capacity block production facility in Leeds was fully operational.
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SECOND BES 6001 RESPONSIBLE SOURCING 'EXCELLENT' RATING ACHIEVED AT LEEDS PLANT
The new multi-million pound Stocks Bros Ltd concrete block plant in Cross Green Leeds achieved the highest possible rating of 'Excellent' to the Responsible Sourcing standard BES 6001.

This is only the 2nd block plant anywhere to have ever achieved this, the first being our Airtec aerated block plant in Catterick.
2015
INDUSTRY-FIRST BES 6001 RESPONSIBLE SOURCING 'EXCELLENT' RATING ACHIEVED ON
AIRTEC AERATED CONCRETE BLOCK PRODUCTS
Thomas Armstrong (Concrete Blocks) Limited became the first concrete block manufacturer to achieve the highest possible rating of ‘Excellent’ to BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products for our Airtec Aerated Concrete Block products.

The company also achieved the second highest possible rating of ‘Very Good’ for our Stocks Bros Ltd subsidiary lightweight and dense concrete block manufacturing company in Leeds. We were in fact within one single point of also achieving a rating of ‘Excellent’ on this occasion!
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START OF CONCRETE BLOCK PLANT CONSTRUCTION OF A £12 MILLION PRODUCTION
It saw the start of the construction of a £12 million concrete block production unit at Cross Green, Leeds. This would replace its current production facility at Garforth.
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LAKELAND PAVERS ACQUISITION
The completion of the acquisition of Lakeland Pavers in Penrith, Cumbria. Founded in 1989 it was regarded as a well-respected and the leading regional producer of a wide range of high quality and innovative paving products. The range takes inspiration from natural beauty of the Lake District. It also provided a range of concrete building block products.
2014
UK'S HEALTHIST CONSTRUCTION COMPANY RANKING
The company was ranked as the "UK's healthiest construction company" in a poll by Construction Index in October 2014.
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CARDEWMIRES QUARRY, DALSTON ACQUISITION
Thomas Armstrong (Aggregates) Limited continue to expand and diversify with the acquisition of Cardewmires Quarry in Dalston, Cumbria. A large, long-established quarry located 5 miles South West of Carlisle which has been producing high quality sand and gravel since the early 1980's.
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WORK UNDERWAY AT AINTREE BLOCK PLANT
The existing William Rainford Ltd concrete block plant in Aintree, Merseyside saw ah a brand new multi-million pound turn-key factory using the very latest state-of-the-art technology. This high tech, high volume facility will replace our existing plant, more than doubling production capacity and significantly expanding the range of products manufactured.
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WASHINGTON ESTATES LIMITED RENAMED WASHINGTON HOMES LIMITED
2013
UK'S HEALTHIST CONSTRUCTION COMPANY RANKING
Thomas Armstrong swoops into No2. position in the UK's financially healthiest construction companies.
2010
TAYBAN DEVELOPMENT LTD ACQUISTION
Thomas Armstrong Group acquire the trade and assets of Tayban Development Limited on the 30th September 2010. The new organisation will trade under the name of Tayban Concrete Products (2010) Ltd.

Tayban Developments Limited was a leading precast and prestressed concrete products manufacturer based in Bolton, Lancashire which had been serving the building and civil engineering industry since 1995.
2007
CHC FLOORS AND STOCK BLOCKS LTD ACQUIRED
Two further well established, respected companies were acquired:

CHC Floors Ltd in Manchester (aka Collier & Henry Ltd), manufacturer of precast, prestressed concrete floor panels and beams.

In mid-2007, acquisition of Stocks Bros (Buildings) Limited in Leeds, manufacturer of high-quality concrete blocks. It now presented the highest volume block manufacturing facility in the Group.
2004
NEW CONCRETE BLOCK PLANT BUILT AND COMISSIONED
Built and commissioned in 2004, this state of the art facility in Brompton-on-Swale, Catterick, North Yorkshire represents the very latest technology in aerated block production using entirely unique and bespoke techniques resulting in products with unrivalled technical and physical performance.
1950 - Latter day of saw milling at South Street Cockermouth
1955 - Precast Concrete and Clinecon Block Works, Low Road, Cockermouth
Mid 1950s - Early Clinecon house at Abbeytown
1963 - Newspaper Article 'End of an Era in Cockermouth's Firms Life'
1963 - Inspecting quarry as a result of blast Tendley Quarry
1965 - First Timber Trusses were manufactured
1980 - Keith Denham becomes Managing Director Chief Executive
1986 - Moved to its Head Quarters in Flimby Cumbria
1986 - Thomas Armstrong (Building & DIY) Supplies) Limited Formed
1988 - Garners Concrete Blocks Ltd, Thirsk
1995 - William Rainford (Holdings) Ltd, Aintree
1997 - Coulthard Concrete Products (1980) Ltd -Sillioth, Cumbria
1998 - Barnett's (Buglawton) Ltd - Congleton, Cheshire
1950
PIONEER - CLINECON BUILDING BLOCK
ONE OF THE FIRST AUTOMATIC BLOCK MAKING MACHINES IN THE COUNTRY
During the war the company was involved in the the buildings of council houses and in the early 1950s were building upwards of 1000 houses every year for councils and housing associations across Cumbria and North East.

Throughout this time there was a shortage of housing as a result of damage caused in the Second World War. Thomas Armstrong developed an innovative solution called The Clinecon Block Construction which enabled houses to be build speedily, provide an alternative to brick but was also economical in building and maintenance costs. Clinecon Houses had a principal component the clinker concrete interlocking block, which was made out of clinker ash from power stations - an early example of recycling.

“The blocks were unique. They were designed in particular sizes and just slotted together, including corner pieces, so that they didn’t have to be cut.

“They brought about a revolution in building and we were asked to use them to build houses in the South – but we were far too busy.”

Extract taken from an article in Times and Star in Sept 2008

The company was the pioneer of the block and had one of the first automatic block making machines in the country. The first house the firm built using this method was at Parkside Avenue in Cockermouth, and it is still there.

This manufacturer of the Cliencon Block was transferred from Cockermouth in mid 1950s to Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear.

View the Thomas Armstrong House for the People Brochure.
BLOCK PLANT FACTORY OPENS
The first block plant was situated in Cumbria producing blocks for Thomas Armstrong Limited. An additional block plant factory was opened in Rowlands Gill in the North East, close to sources of good quality clinker and pelletised slag.
1963
END OF AN ERA
During the Second World War, the firm were contractors to the War Office, supplying timber; but that era came to an end in 1963 when it cut down its last trees.
1964
THOMAS ARMSTRONG LIMITED BECOMES A HOLDINGS COMPANY
Following rapid expansion and diverse activities, Thomas Armstrong Limited changed it's role to become a Holdings Company and formed subsidiary companies covering contracting, timber manufacturer, Concrete Block Manufacturer and quarrying, haulage and vehicle maintenance activities.

Thomas Armstrong (Timber) Limited was established where its main activity was the manufacturing of timer components for the bed making industry. It gradually expanded its operations into pallets, packing cases and roof trusses.

Thomas Armstrong (Construction) Ltd was formed following the reorganisation but prior to this date construction activities has been carried out since 1930 by the parent Company. It was made up of two major departments Buildings and Civil Engineering support by Joinery, Plant, Plumbing and Roofing departments.
1965
FIRST TIMBER TRUSSES MANUFACTURED
1976
TRANSPORT SERVICE COMPANY FORMED
Thomas Armstrong (Transport Services) Limited formation saw the operation of a fleet of modern tipper vehicles and gravel quarries and commercial vehicle repair and workshop. Making it one of the largest and most modern fleets of vehicles in West Cumbria.
1980
KEITH DENHAM APPOINTED CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
1981
MODERN HIGH PRODUCTION BLOCK PLANT OPENED
In January 1981, the company continued to prosper and resulted in the investment of a modern high production manufacturing block plant being opened at Rowlands Gill in the North East. It made them the most Advanced Factory of this type in Europe, with Computer Operated full Automated Production.
1986
MOVE TO NEW HEADQUARTERS FLIMBY, CUMBRIA
In the Spring, following its continued expansion again, in spring 1986, Thomas Armstrong Group moved its new Headquarters at Flimby, where part of vehicle maintenance, the transport workshops were the first part to be opened for business on the new complex. Since then office's were opened by the Contracting company in Lancaster and Catterick.

The transport workshops were the first part of the new complex to be open for business where vehicle servicing and repairs, MOT and tachograph services were offered.
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THOMAS ARMSTRONG (BUILDING & D.I.Y) SUPPLIES) LIMITED FORMED
Based on a former commercial garage site it was transformed into a 5000 sq.ft self service retail store with a bathroom/bedroom showroom and 8000 sq.ft trade service area.

A new addition of the plant hire department at Cockermouth was offered and delivery service extended to 20 miles radius of depot.
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ROWLANDS GILL PLANT EXTENDED
The Rowlands Gills Block Plant Factory was extended to produce ARMBOND insulation Blocks to achieve U-Values of 0.6-0.45 without requiring additional insulation during or after construction.
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THOMAS ARMSTRONG (CONCRETE) LTD RENAMED THOMAS ARMSTRONG (CONCRETE BLOCKS) LTD
1988
COMPANY EXPANSION AND AQUISITIONS
The company formed and acquired new businesses all increasing the scope and area of operations of the Group.

In January, ACP (Concrete) Ltd and Thomas Armstrong (Buildings and DIY Supplies) Limited were formed.

During 1988, the precast concrete company had outgrown it's site in Cockermouth and occupies a two acre site with a purpose factory on Risehow Industrial Estate near Maryport. It has since earned its reputation for high quality, mass produced concrete products.

At the same time it also setup a Readymix Concrete Plant for the company's own use and for Retail and Trade markets throughout West Cumbria.
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GARNERS CONCRETE BLOCKS ACQUISITION IN THIRSK
In October, The acquisitions of Garners Concrete Blocks Limited at Thirsk was acquired to increase sales into North Yorkshire and expand product range and Polkinghorne Industries at Workington. Founded in 1981 it was a long establish and respected local company.
1991
CONCRETE BLOCK PLANT PURHASED IN CONSETT, DURHAM
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THOMAS ARMSTORNG LIMITED RENAMED THOMAS ARMSTRONG (HOLDINGS) LIMITED
1989
THOMAS ARMSTRONG (CONTRACTORS) LIMITED RENAMED
THOMAS ARMSTRONG (CONSTRUCTION) LIMITED
1995
WILLIAM RAINFORDS (HOLDINGS) LTD ACQUISITION - AINTREE, LIVERPOOL
The Group acquired William Rainford (Holdings) Ltd in 1995 which was a well known local company based in Aintree, Liverpool operating from 5 sites and founded in 1970.
1997
COULTHARD CONCRETE PRODUCTS (1980) LIMTED ACQUISITION - SILLIOTH, CUMBRIA
It was acquired in 1997 and manufacturers an extensive range of building block products.
1998
BARNETT'S (BUGLAWTON) LTD ACQUISITION - CONGLETON, CHESHIRE
Barnett’s (Buglawton) Ltd was acquisition in February 1998. This was the oldest and most well establish company in the Group. This latest acquired enabled the Group to extend its geographical operations from Carlisle to Congleton (Cheshire).
1999
THOMAS ARMSTRONG (TRANSPORT SERVICES) LIMITED RENAMED
THOMAS ARMSTRONG (AGGREGATES) LTD
Thomas Armstrong Founder
During 1890, taken along the side of Loweswater near Beckend Farm
1926 - Steam tractor hauling logs South Street premises
1930 Thomas Armstrong became a Limited Company
1930-1954 - Mr Glover Denham - Chairman, Managing Director
1930s - Thomas Armstrong Early Tipper early beginning in road transport
1830
THOMAS ARMSTRONG FOUNDED
The business was originally founded by Thomas Armstrong in Cockermouth in 1830 and consisted of saw mills and joinery works. Throughout the 19th Century the business continued to develop and expand, so by 1900 the saw mills were employing over 60 men.
1890
STEAM SAWMILLS
During 1890s and is of home-grown timber being hauled by the Company's own team of horses and four-wheel pole trailers and is heading for the Company's Steam Sawmills in South Street, Cockermouth.

The Company operated a number of these teams of horses; the timber was felled by the company's own felling team and during this early period was the Company's aim core of business. The Company at this time had Steam Sawmills at both South Street and Low Station Year, Cockermouth, where the timber was cut and machined for a number of uses such as pit props, furniture manufacturers, railway wagon bodies, construction and firewood.

The Manager dressed in the overcoat and trilby hat and carrying the money case was Thomas Armstrong.
1900
EXPANSION
Business continued to expand and develop employed over 60 men. The company was described as Sawmillers, Timber and Slate Merchants, Builders and Joiner, Explosive Agents and Undertakers. The addition of Coach Builders and Quarry owners wasn't until 1968.
1926
PUBLIC WORKS
First recorded Public Works Contract carried out – 50 houses, road and sewers were built for Workington corporation. A larger number of such contracts were carried out during the 1920’s and 1930’s, some of the most notable being Dovenby Hall Mental Hospital, New Central School Workington and Salterbeck Housing Estate, Workington.
1930
THOMAS ARMSTRONG LTD FORMED
Period between 1830-1930 was successful managed by four generations of the Armstrong family.

In October 1930, the last member of the Armstrong family left the company and Thomas Armstrong was formed into a Limited Company by four local businessmen with Mr Glover Denham as Managing Director. He had been manager since the First World War and got together with four other Cockermouth businessmen to buy it – and formed Thomas Armstrong Ltd over a weekend with four £1 shares.

From 1930s to 1954, Mr. Glover Denham provided the foresight and drive throughout this time where he expanded and developed the Company, bringing it through a difficult post war years and leaving it strong and healthy and ready to move forward in the second half of the Century to the threshold of its recent expansion.
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TOLSONS BECOMES TOLSONS LIMITED
1937
PRECAST CONCRETE MANUFACTURER
The Company was involved in the manufacturer of Precast Concrete Products.