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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

The heavy plant in Santa’s sack: just the job for the tunnellers of the future

Construction National blog logoIt's that time of year again, when a wife's fancy turns to thoughts of Christmas presents for grandchildren. In our case, little Samuel will soon be three and is already keen on building and – mainly – demolition. So off we go to investigate the world of construction toys all over again.

Things have changed! No longer is the world of JCB, John Deere and Caterpillar confined to more-or-less faithful reproductions for the sand pit or just looking at. No; these days children can own miniature versions of the real thing. Some are electrically driven while others (preferred by this advocate of an active childhood) are pedal-powered. Some ranges have all the attachments available to the real builder (not just a 'digger' but a back-hoe loader).

In my column of 1 November I reported on initiatives by the industry to improve its image. I venture to speculate that the future of construction (and demolition) will be enhanced thanks to the opportunities offered to the very youngest to get used to some of the skills on offer.

• Back in real world of construction, it seems that the railways are forming the successor to the Olympics as the big building projects. In addition to the steady and sometimes spectacular progress of Crossrail, which recently saw a 550-tonne tunnelling machine lowered down a 40m shaft in East London, there have been contracts offered for other upgrades, including a 'dive-under' at Acton. Looks like tunnellers are the new...well, navvies.

• Talking of tunnels, the big tunnelling event of the year, Tunnelling 2012, will be taking place in London on 20 November. Organised by New Civil Engineer, the conference offers an opportunity to network and sniff out new opportunities for the underground community.

• Over the past few weeks the NHBC has been holding a series of events to announce the second-round and regional winners of its annual Pride in the Job awards for site managers. The final region to announce was Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, on 2 November. The list of Seal of Excellence winners is now complete, as is the line-up of Regional Winners to go forward to the national finals in London in January. As always, our congratulations go to all the award winners, with our best wishes for the finals.

Chris Stokes