The 1980s

August 6th 2019

The 1980s was a time of expansion and reorganisation of the Partnership, following a split with James Williamson & Partners. Marine civil and structural engineering projects still dominated the workload, although the growing oil industry and investment in better maritime transport infrastructure were becoming the major drivers for change.

In 1981, the Aberdeen based Partners and senior staff concluded that the joint Partnership of Arch Henderson, James Williamson & Partners had run its course and was dissolved. However, some key personnel from James Williamson & Partners stayed with Arch Henderson.

In 1982, Ron Still became a Partner. He had joined the firm in 1974 having previously worked for Aberdeen Harbour Board. In 1984, the Senior Partner, Gordon Henderson, the son of Archibald Henderson, retired after four decades with the firm, and for the first time in 65 years the company no longer had a member of the Henderson family in the Partnership. Gordon was replaced by John Wilson as the Senior Partner, and Grant Alexander and James Simpson became Partners. Both Grant and James had worked for James Williamson & Partners.

The 1980s saw the start of over thirty years of work for Arch Henderson designing the construction and reconstruction of quays in Aberdeen Harbour. An early project was the construction of Pocra Quay, which became the Harbour’s eighth oil service base. A more challenging project was the reconstruction of Regent’s Quay; strengthening the quay and deepening the berth.

The projects in Shetland continued to grow and by 1982, it became necessary to open an office in Lerwick, which was headed up by Alistair Easton, another ex James Williamson engineer. The presence of a permanent office in Shetland quickly led to new clients, new projects and the subsequent expansion of the team. Major dredging works were undertaken on the north and south channels into Lerwick’s North Harbour, and an oil rig maintenance base was built at Dales Voe with a heavy-lift quay and deep water berth. The team also built new piers for Shetland Islands Council to serve the inter-isle ferries.

In 1987 James Simpson opened an office in Thurso where the firm already had clients, including Wick and Lybster Harbour Trusts. From an initial small team of three, the Thurso office took on a wide range of projects, including work across the Pentland Firth in Orkney, but its major source of work was the Dounreay nuclear plant. James is currently the Principal Partner of the firm.

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