In pictures: Builder of M1, London mosque and Coventry Cathedral opens archive
Construction firm John Laing has built some of the nation’s power stations and housing estates, motorways and cathedrals. As Historic England and the John Laing Charitable Trust open the company’s picture vault to the public, here are some of the firm’s photographs documenting their bigger builds.The Severn bridge
The second Severn bridge, now known as the Prince of Wales Bridge, opened to traffic on 5 June 1996.Built to ease pressure on the first Severn bridge, which opened 30 years previously, it carries the six lanes of the M4 between England and Wales with more than 30,000 vehicles using it each day.
The M1 opened with much fanfare on 2 November 1959
The M6 incorporates the country’s first stretch of motorway, the Preston by-pass, which opened in 1958, on its journey from Rugby to Gretna.Meanwhile, the 193-mile long M1 connects London to Leeds and was built mainly between 1959 and 1968.Coventry Cathedral
Coventry’s new cathedral was built close to the remains of its old one
On 14 November 1940, St Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry was practically obliterated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe.As the smoke and dust cleared, all that remained was the tower and spire, outer wall and tomb of its first bishop.
A helicopter was used to place the cathedral’s tower
The new, modernist cathedral was built between 1956 and 1962 a stone’s throw away from where the shell of the bombed building still stands.It was designed by Basil Spence and built by John Laing, with construction including the use of a helicopter to place the cathedral’s tower.Barbican estate
The 40-acre Barbican estate was built in the 1960s close to London’s old city wall on a site flattened by World War Two bombing.Hailed as a fine example of brutalist concrete architecture, it is comprised of flats, an arts centre, school and the Museum of London.
It is home to about 4,000 people and was built to tackle a shortfall in housing in that part of London after the war.The Queen visited the Barbican on 20 November 1972, the day she celebrated her silver wedding anniversary.Berkeley Nuclear Power Station
Berkeley, one of the world’s first commercial nuclear power stations, was in operation between 1962 and 1989 with its reactors producing enough electricity to power an area the size of Bristol each day.
It stood beside the River Severn in Gloucestershire and while many of its buildings have been removed, work is only now starting on removing the nuclear waste.It will not be safe for humans to go inside its two reactor cores until 2074.London Central Mosque
The dome’s exterior was covered in gold-coloured copper alloy
More than 100 designs were submitted for the mosque before Frederick Gibberd’s plan was chosen, with construction taking three years.While the dome’s exterior was covered in gold-coloured copper alloy, the interior was lined with an intricate geometric tile mosaic.
The pictures are among 10,000 from the John Laing Photographic Collection being digitised, which will be open for public access on the Historic England website as part of the Breaking New Ground project.