Sectors

Defence

For over 155 years, Sir Robert McAlpine, a UK family owned business, has been a trusted partner, delivering major civil and defence infrastructure projects, and sensitive, high security projects, across the United Kingdom.

What sets us apart? Our values, culture, and ways of working.

As a UK family-owned construction and infrastructure company, our legacy of delivering innovation and value in defence goes as far back as The Great War.

We are trusted by our clients to deliver in live operational environments and our collaborative culture of working builds in the agility and capacity to respond quickly to our clients’ emerging requirements. Our experts in design and delivery capability means we understand the importance of maintaining continuity of operations. We provide solutions that are tailored to our clients’ needs, incorporating off-site manufacturing, modular building, the use of digital systems and LEAN solutions as required. 

Our culture and ways of working allow our teams to build high performing partnerships with our customers and industry using our extensive experience, proven methods and steadfast commitment to our values. Our in-house team of experts and trusted UK supply chain are vetted and security cleared to work on a range of projects.

This in-house expertise and capability includes engineering design, construction management, digital construction, lifting solutions, and heritage projects. 

Our target to become Net Zero by 2045 is approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and we support our clients and supply chain to achieve their Net Zero ambitions.

Armed Forces Covenant logo

We are proud signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging our ongoing support and commitment to the Armed Forces community.

Our colleagues in the news

  • Mike Hickson OBE joins as Managing Director of Defence

    We are pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Hickson OBE as Managing Director of Defence.

    Find out more
  • Colleagues shortlisted for Ex-Forces in Business Award

    Join us in celebrating our talented colleagues, Nick Podevyn and Emma Shakespeare, who have been named as finalists in the prestigious British Ex-Forces in Business Awards 2024. 

    Find out more

Our projects

  1. Transforming Colchester Garrison

    As part of a joint-venture we redeveloped Colchester Garrison for the MoD with a £552m project. This transformed living and working conditions for 3,500 military personnel and 750 civilian staff, with enhanced facilities and off-site prefabricated accommodations.

    Read more about Transforming Colchester Garrison
  2. side-elevation-of-the-defence-science-and-technology-laboratory

    Project Inspire: Advancing defence infrastructure

    Project Inspire enhanced the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) infrastructure with a £77.3m initiative. This included the establishment of a cutting-edge, 20,000m² high-security facility in Salisbury, a standout feature of the project. Significant refurbishments were also carried out in Portsmouth.

    Read more about Project Inspire: Advancing defence infrastructure
  3. Elizabeth Tower clock face. Image credit ©UK Parliament Jessica Taylor

    Preserving history: Restoring the iconic Elizabeth Tower

    Our Special Projects team meticulously restored the Elizabeth Tower, known as Big Ben, preserving its heritage for future generations. This five-year endeavour, the most extensive repair program in the tower's history, included restoring the external fabric and clock mechanism and installing energy-efficient lighting.

    Read more about Preserving history: Restoring the iconic Elizabeth Tower
  4. Constructing the New London Embassy

    We partnered with BL Harbert International to deliver the US Government's New London Embassy in Wandsworth. This high-security, 36,000m² facility meets stringent US and UK standards, including mission-critical infrastructure and secure office spaces.

    Read more about Constructing the New London Embassy
  5. Springfield University Hospital

    Upgrading Mental Health Facilities at Springfield University Hospital

    Our Springfield University Hospital redevelopment includes a medium-secure Forensic Unit and a Non-Forensic Unit, enhancing mental health care in South West London. The project features estate upgrades, new parkland, and infrastructure improvements, ensuring hospital operations continue smoothly.

    Read more about Upgrading Mental Health Facilities at Springfield University Hospital
  6. Construction at Sellafield

    33 years working at Sellafield

    From 1984 to 2017, we supported nuclear defence at Sellafield with infrastructure for waste management, fuel reprocessing, and decommissioning. Key projects included the Sealine Pipe Bridge refurbishment and Magnox Encapsulation Plant construction, showcasing our expertise in civil nuclear environments and commitment to safety.

    Read more about 33 years working at Sellafield
  7. Westbury Hotel

    Westbury Hotel lifted to build basement

    Our Special Projects team ingeniously lifted the seven-storey Westbury Hotel in Mayfair using hydraulic jacks to create two new basement levels. Drawing on in-house expertise from McAlpine Lifting Solutions, Geospatial Engineering, and McAlpine Design Group, we tackled the complex engineering challenges with innovative construction solutions.

    Read more about Westbury Hotel lifted to build basement
  8. The redevelopment of Broadgate, London

    The redevelopment of Broadgate in London transforms a pedestrianised neighbourhood into a premier mixed-use destination. We worked with British Land and GIC, focusing on collaboration, community engagement, and sustainability. We delivered high standards and innovative solutions, like the Broadgate App, for real-time updates and reduced environmental impacts.

    Read more about The redevelopment of Broadgate, London
  9. BAE Systems paint facility, Barrow-in-Furness

    We constructed a state-of-the-art facility for painting Dreadnought class nuclear submarines as part of BAE Systems extensive infrastructure and building program. The £44m facility includes advanced blast and paint cells, stringent environmental controls, and innovative design solutions to manage explosive fumes and ensure safety, all delivered through a highly collaborative and innovative approach.

    Read more about BAE Systems paint facility, Barrow-in-Furness

Our Defence sector legacy


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The Great War, 1914-1919

During the Great War, we significantly contributed to supporting 'Kitchener's Army.' Operating close to the front lines, we constructed hutted camps and support buildings throughout France, including hospitals at Etaples, and similar camps across Britain.

On the Home Front, our efforts included building munitions factories to address the ordnance shortage on the Western Front. Key projects included plants at Georgetown in Renfrewshire, Perivale in London, and the British Dyes factory in Huddersfield, employing 2,000 workers to erect 130 buildings on a 670-acre site.

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Our Defence sector legacy

We also constructed aerodromes and associated facilities, such as the Western Aircraft Repair Depot at Yate and the Loch Doon School of Aerial Gunnery.

Additionally, the British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company in Derby was one of many significant contracts, covering eight hectares and built for the treatment of aircraft fabric.

Our comprehensive support for the war effort demonstrated our capability in delivering large-scale, essential infrastructure in challenging conditions.

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World War II

During World War II, our company played a vital role in constructing and upgrading over 20 RAF airfields, crucial for air supremacy. Key sites included Lasham, Mildenhall, Fairford, Boscombe Down, Prestwick, and Northolt, supporting fighter defenses, bomber command, and the Allied invasion of Europe.

Post-war, we further developed Boscombe Down, creating one of the UK's largest strategic runways. Additionally, we built several explosive factories, including the Royal Navy Propellant Factory in Caerwent, showcasing our extensive contribution to the war effort.

  • Mulberry Harbours, 1944

    A military engineering project of unprecedented size and complexity, Mulberry Harbours is perhaps our most important contribution to the war effort. We played a significant role in the construction of the temporary harbours which supported the D-Day landings in Normandy.

    Find out more

Our commitment to Net Zero and sustainable construction

  1. net zero carbon and planning

    Our journey to Net Zero 2045

    Our vision is to be renowned for our work with clients and communities as we construct a better world for future generations.

    In order to realise that vision and continue proudly building Britain's future heritage, we want to help lead the transition to Net Zero and develop solutions that address this challenge.

    Read more about Our journey to Net Zero 2045
  2. Sir Robert McAlpine's sustainability performance update

    We continue to make progress in decarbonisation, following the validation of our emission reduction targets by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) last year, which saw us become one of the UK's first construction and infrastructure companies to have our Net Zero 2045 target validated against the SBTi’s Net Zero standard.

    Read more about Sir Robert McAlpine's sustainability performance update
  • Our sustainability strategy

    We are committed to leaving a lasting positive legacy as a result of our actions. Considering our impact on the environment and society in all we do. Playing our role in addressing the climate emergency for a sustainable and prosperous future as we construct a better world for future generations.

    Find out more

Our projects in the news

  1. truss lift at Elizabeth Tower Restoration

    Restoring the Elizabeth Tower

    28 Mar 2024

    Nick Sturge, Project Manager, Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects, and Shauna Farrell, Chief Engineer, Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects, share the "once in a lifetime" experience of working on the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower.

    Read more about Restoring the Elizabeth Tower

Our insights

  1. Grant Findlay

    Grant Findlay: The rise of onshoring

    21 Mar 2024

    Grant Findlay, Executive Managing Director, Buildings, at Sir Robert McAlpine, writes in Construction News about the factors driving inward investment for industrial projects in the UK and the impact this has on the sector.

    Read more about Grant Findlay: The rise of onshoring

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