There’s old news … and then there’s very, very old news

Hansom new 2008

Keep up to speed with old news

One of my hacks was a bit miffed this month when a press release from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on an upcoming government green scheme turned out not to contain a single shred of new information. The “announcement”, as it was described, reminded him of when disgraced New Labour spin doctor Jo Moore emailed the transport department’s press office on the day of the 9/11 attacks saying it was a “good day to bury bad news”. Maybe BEIS, as the 20th anniversary of the attack approached, saw it as a good day to publish old news. How times have changed.

Smartening up security

A visit to Wates’s Lucent scheme at Piccadilly Circus saw one of my team greeted at the site entrance by a man sporting a bow tie. Turns out the chap in question is called Abdul, who originally hails from Afghanistan – which has been in the news recently. On the day of my hack’s visit, Abdul was wearing a gold bow tie but he tells my scribe that it’s a different colour for every day. He certainly beats some of the more surly security types I’ve had the misfortune of bumping into.

Wates uses Shaftesbury Avenue as its loading and unloading access road. It all seems to be working well but the road is on a designated route that would be handed over to security types if anything happened to the Queen

Long live our noble Queen

Sticking with Lucent, which translates as glowing with or giving off light, Wates uses Shaftesbury Avenue as its loading and unloading access road. It all seems to be working well but for some there is a nagging worry at the back of their minds. Apparently, the road is on a designated route that would be handed over to security types if anything happened to the Queen – so forcing Wates to find another loading area. HRH will be 97 when Wates is scheduled to complete the job at the end of 2023 so one suspects some at the firm will be keeping fingers and toes crossed …

Greens are good for you

Alex Salmond has started another row with his former party, the SNP. Salmond, who was Scotland’s first minister for seven years until 2014, reckons last month’s co-operation agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens, giving the grouping a majority in the Scottish parliament, is “student politics masquerading as coalition building”. He added: “If I had placed government in the hands of the Green Party, there would currently be no Forth Crossing and no Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road.” Given Galliford Try lost millions on the former and Galliford Try, again, along with Balfour Beatty, lost millions more on Aberdeen, perhaps there’s two firms right there who wished the Greens had got in.


A highly entertaining chat with British Land head of development Nigel Webb saw one of my hacks learn that the developer had held a cake-making competition some years ago. Nothing remarkable in that, I guess, but among the usual entries was one modelled on 5 Broadgate, better known as the UBS building. I’m told it was especially impressive. Original Broadgate developer Sir Stuart Lipton is not a fan so perhaps it was a good job he wasn’t brought in to judge.

Cheese topping

British Land was, of course, the developer on the Cheesegrater, and over the summer one of my team got the chance to go there while it was quiet and have a nose around. And very good it was too – though of course all was closely supervised. I’m told the building is a magnet for people considerably younger than me who try to get in so they can take pictures of themselves at the top. Presumably they do that at night, my scribe enquired. No, no, quite the reverse, came the reply. The youngsters walk in during the day and pretend they’ve got a meeting there. Apparently, they just try to bluff their way through. They should put that to good use and become journalists instead.

Same old news


One reader recently sent in this crumpled-up newspaper clipping found stuffed into a wall cavity during some recent bathroom renovation. It’s lasted well, given it’s from March 1963. That’s not the only thing that’s lasted well. The headline about output seems very current too.

Send any juicy industry gossip to Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom, who founded Building in 1843, at