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George Leslie Ltd – Marine expertise

George Leslie
Written by Roma Publications

George Leslie Ltd – Marine expertise

Rising to the challenge of a diverse range of civil engineering works including complex marine operations, and backed by over 50 years of expertise, George Leslie Ltd (GL) has established a reputation as a resourceful infrastructure contractor.

Based in Barrhead just outside Glasgow and founded in 1964, the privately-owned company, has an annual turnover of around £50m, and undertakes projects throughout Scotland -including the more remote Highland and Island locations.

David Ross, Managing Director of George Leslie Ltd said: “Attention to detail is key in every contract – through the hands-on approach of the directors and senior staff, dedicated to providing high quality customer service. This is further reinforced by experienced in-house site construction teams, who are supported by a core of specialist office-based staff undertaking project development, design coordination, temporary works design, planning and risk management.”

GL’s customer-focused approach to projects is also supported by their membership of The Institute of Customer Service.

Quality, safety and environmental have been key considerations throughout the company’s development, with well-trained, directly-employed operatives and an in-house plant fleet enabling greater control over construction works by the hands-on management team. The company’s operations are carried out under defined, documented, and fully accredited management procedures.

John McNaught, Chairman, commented: “George Leslie Ltd recognises its people are its greatest asset. With a low staff turnover and many long-serving employees, the company is committed to both staff and operative development to enable everyone to fulfil their potential.

“This extends to school-leaver recruitment under Modern Apprenticeship schemes, day-release college and university further education – and most recently, Graduate Apprenticeships. In acknowledgment of this commitment, the company holds both Investors in People and Investors in Young People accreditations and expanding our pipeline of talent remains one of the company’s core objectives.”

Since its formation, the company has developed particular expertise in heavy civil engineering projects, where work throughout the water sector and on marine projects have been mainstays of its operations. Indeed, there are but few of the main piers, ports and harbours of the west coast of Scotland that have not had a GL presence in recent years.

Brodick Ferry Terminal Redevelopment

The largest individual project undertaken by both GL and client Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, was the recently completed development of the new ferry terminal at Brodick on the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde.

Work on the £25m project encompassed three main elements of a new terminal building, enhanced marshalling areas constructed on 9000 sq m of reclaimed land, complete with taxi rank, drop-off areas and bus stances, together with a new 100m long berthing pier structure and new linkspan.

Wemyss Bay

Immediately prior to this, GL completed a major refurbishment of Wemyss Bay ferry terminal, which provides the lifeline ferry service to the Isle of Bute. This work involved the construction of a new roundhead and pier deck, supported on large diameter tubular piles, together with a new piled, pivot fendering system.

Neil Doherty, Contracts Director for marine works said: “The contract was undertaken during a 6-month closure of the terminal facility, and despite the exposed location being subject to the worst winter weather on record, the critical re-opening date in time for the Easter weekend tourist traffic was achieved.”

Linkspan projects

Part of the work at Wemyss Bay also included the removal, refurbishment and re-installation of the linkspan structure.

This linkspan was the first in a series of projects undertaken by GL on linkspan refurbishment and replacements, many of which had originally been installed in the early 1990’s and had reached the end of their serviceable life. Indeed, GL benefitted from the knowledge and experience that some longstanding employees gained on the original projects all those years ago!

Oban replacement linkspan installation

The west-highland town of Oban is the mainland terminal for the lifeline ferry services to many of the Hebridean islands including Mull, Lismore, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree and Barra, and the port has two roll-on, roll-off berths to accommodate the busy ferry traffic.

The recent replacement of No 1 Berth linkspan was a welcome return to the port for GL, having undertaken the original construction of Berth No 2 (including the linkspan) back in 2008.

Complementing this, GL recently completed the replacement linkspan on the Island of Coll, with the offsite steelwork for Tiree (weighing some 150t) currently in fabrication.

Further schemes include decommissioning of the old linkspan at Brodick and repairs to the linkspan at Gourock.

Gallanach and Kerrera Slipways 

Located less than 3km south of Oban lies the Gallanach slipway departure point for the small ferry which serves the sparsely populated island of Kerrera. GL’s recent project to extend the slipways below the intertidal zone at both Gallanach and on Kerrera, coupled with the construction of a new breakwater on Kerrera to provide protection from the prevailing south-westerlies, has enhanced the resilience of this service which can now operate regardless of tidal conditions.

John McNaught said: “Our ability to develop a close and cooperative working relationship with the project teams on every scheme has enabled efficiencies and innovation which have added value and delivered enhanced, robust assets to maintain connectivity upon which many of the remote communities rely.

“A further key company objective across all projects is to leave both a lasting legacy upon successful completion of the work, and also to make a positive contribution within the communities during our presence on site. For example, on our Brodick Ferry Terminal redevelopment, the surplus dredged sand from the new pier location was transported around Brodick Bay and used to reinstate Brodick Beach, which had suffered from erosion over the years.”

Western Ferries Berth Reconstruction

Western Ferries is a privately-owned company running a year-round, high-frequency, vehicle-carrying service between Gourock and Dunoon on the Firth of Clyde with whom GL has had a valued relationship over many years, having undertaken several projects to upgrade their ferry terminals and berthing structures. Earlier this year the standby berth and linkspan were replaced at the McInroy’s Point terminal in Gourock, which once again provides Western Ferries with berthing options to suit the weather conditions.

Additional recent projects

These have included the enlargement and enhancement of Milton Harbour on Tiree to accommodate the small but thriving in-shore fishing fleet, and an extensive quay reconstruction scheme for Clydeside Regeneration Ltd at Queens Quay on the site of the former John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank in the shadow of Sir William Arrol’s 1905 Titan Crane. (QQ aerial photo here)

Further recent marine schemes have included: Completion of a new alignment structure at Lochaline on the Morven peninsula for the ferry over to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull; the repair and refurbishment of Tiree pierhead, and the construction of a new alignment structure for the border port of Berwick.

Away from the coastal waters, GL recently undertook a programme of work to enhance the scour protection to a series of bridges on the upper reaches of the River Clyde and one of its principal tributaries flowing through the centre of Glasgow. Whilst presenting different challenges, many of the skills and expertise used on the wider marine works were embraced to address the logistics of placing 1000t of 1t rock armour working afloat in mid-river.

Another key GL project involves the phased refurbishment of pipe-bridges, aqueducts and tunnels on the 40km long Katrine Aqueduct. Inaugurated in 1859 by Queen Victoria, this strategic infrastructure asset delivers the raw water supply for the Greater Glasgow conurbation. Together with programmes of reservoir maintenance and new Storm Overflow sewer construction, GL’s water sector works utilises many of the general heavy civil engineering skills deployed on the Company’s marine working.

David Ross concluded: “Whilst much of the heavy marine construction activities is undertaken with the company’s in-house experienced staff, plant and operatives, George Leslie also benefits from a mature supply chain of specialist suppliers and subcontractors, many of whom have worked with us over very many years – and their contribution to the delivery team is highly valued.”


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