Harry Fairclough Construction enters administration

The Warrington-based firm founded in 1898 has appointed administrators, Place North West understands.

A winding up order was made against Harry Fairclough Construction on 12 February by electrical engineer Eric Johnson of Northwich advised by Butcher & Barlow.

The last available financial statements for the firm, which were published in March 2018, show a 0.25% profit margin, producing £95,000 profit on turnover of £38m, for the previous 12 months. At the time, finance director Richard Shaw, who left the company after 16 years in December 2018, described the results as “satisfactory given prevailing market conditions.”

The news comes less than a month after the company, which employs 150 staff, was retained on the North West Construction Hub’s Low Value Construction framework, for projects up to £3m.

In December 2019 managing director, Richard Longfellow resigned as a director at Companies House after almost 30 years with the company. Peter Walthall, who has been with the business since 2008, took over as managing director.

In the 1910s the firm completed projects for the Manchester Ship Canal Company.

In October 2019, Harry Fairclough completed work on a £1.5m lion enclosure at Chester Zoo.  The company’s other projects include an extension to Blackpool Sixth Form College and the Aldham Robarts Pavillion at Liverpool John Moores Univeristy.

If the appointment of administrators is confirmed, it will be the latest in a series of business failures in a treacherous market for construction companies. In the past year, the North West has lost Pochins, Bardsley, Worthington among high-profile casualties. Margins are thin and any delays to payments or build programmes can have a catastrophic effect on the ability to keep trading.

Harry Fairclough Construction was contacted for comment.

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I’ve just been in the new Pavilion library extension at Liverpool John Moores that they completed recently.

Did a nice job of it, although watching them build it they were so old-school.

By PhD

Worrying times, who’s next?


How in God’s name were they allowed to be retained on the NWCH with a 0.25% profit margin?
Do these people not carry out due diligence?? this was a disaster waiting to happen !!
I feel sorry for all the subbies some whom may never recover from the hit they will take.
The Directors should hang their heads in shame !!


Tragic to see another well established contractor go to the wall. The relentless pursuit of ‘competitive tenders’ and half baked OJEU procurement processes pushing contractors to offer prices which are clearly unsustainable.

By David Sleath

VOR – the problem is they won’t !
They will have been squirreling away the assets ready for the ‘Phoenix to rise from the ashes’ while leaving hardworking small businesses in ruins !!

By Tony C

as a manager who has worked for this company for a fair number of years ,looking and listening to how they go about pricing and managing projects I could wright a book ,could call it the…. old ways never die …..it was a farce at times….

By Anonymous

Dear VOR, What’s up? You say you can build cheaper than everybody else to be paid later, hire subbies cheaper than everybody else to paid later, then you borrow money to pay your technical staff, and yourself big wages, and then later. pocket the value you extract from the deal. If it goes wrong you say, I own a limited company, so I can pocket the rofits annualy, but if one year I ruin the business, because I am greedy and daft, I must not pay the debts. Folk smarter than me made these laws. They are nearly as clever and I am sly. But that’s our game. Too clever for yous to ever understand. I don’t mean you personally Mr VOR, I mean our civil society in General.

By James Yates

Fairclough was by no means a large company , but looking at their office based staff you would think they were, in my opinion there was far too many project managers who was not really qualified for the jobs its a case of too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Faircloughs never really caught up with modern day technique’s and management, it was old school. New blood was introduced but never lasted as they could not get past the old school.

By the observer

My grandfather Harry founded this company and my father Mark was managing director for many years, and took a keen interest in the company until his death five years ago, in his nineties, when the last direct family connection with the company ceased. Growing up, our family life was very closely entwined the company.
I am shocked and extremely saddened by this news . My heart goes out to all those who no longer have a job and hope that they may soon find alternative employment.

By Belinda Pollit

I worked for Harry Fairclough as a contracts manager albeit for a short period of a couple of years on the rail side of the business my time with them was great, felt more like a family. I am very saddened to see the company no longer exists. I do hope the employees find new positions elsewhere soon best wishes to them all.

By S Walsh

This does not have to happen. The accounting laws for limited companies could be reformed to stop plcs running up huge debts before failing and there could be compulsory membership for plcs of a bankruptcy insurance fund to repay creditors, and so on. But, we have a Tory government, the party of anarcho-capitalism (there’s a big word for you) that suits big corporations, capital equity owners, inherited wealth and privilege, so nothing will change. Bad news for all small firms, suppliers and sub-contractors. Even though things could be much different.

By James Yates

Tony C – you have substance to your claim? Or are you just a typical troll making things up hiding behind your computer ?


The rules of the game are quite simple. We’re all in a race to the bottom and it will get worse. You can pick it apart in all sorts of ways but the truth is that the construction industry can’t survive on 1% gdp and a public sector that seems completely unable to get its arse into gear….

By Bad company

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