The 1990s

September 30th 2019

The expansion of the firm continued in the 1990s with the addition of offices in Glasgow, Dundee and Orkney,and the diversification of work with the addition of a new architecture department.

The 1990s saw further moves to expand the firm’s offices and the Partnership. In 1991 John Carmichael was appointed to develop the firm’s client base in the south and west of Scotland. With extensive marine experience, as the Port Engineer and Deputy Chief Executive of the Port of Dundee, he initially worked from an office in Glenrothes before moving the office to Dundee in 1999. John Carmichael had indirect links to the firm’s distant past having worked, as a young engineer, for A M Robertson, a consulting engineer based in Helensburgh, who in turn had been trained by Archibald Henderson.

The Partnership expanded in 1991, when Alistair Easton, still based in Lerwick, became a partner, and he was followed in 1994 by John Carmichael and Andy Martin. Andy Martin had joined the firm as Assistant Resident Engineer on the Dales Voe oil rig repair base project in 1985, and since then had largely worked in the Aberdeen office.

In Lerwick in 1990, the firm moved from its first office in Commercial Street to Albert Building, an old building on the quayside which had been completely refurbished, and was also the new head office of Lerwick Harbour Trust. Later, in 1995, the growth of work and increase in staff in Shetland saw the firm move to larger premises in Stewart Building, a new office built by the Harbour Trust largely to house representatives of Shetland’s seafood industries. The firm had been the structural engineer on both the refurbishment of Albert Building and the construction of Stewart Building.

Another significant appointment was the employment, in 1993, of the firm’s first Chartered Architect, David McBain, who had previously worked in London for architects Greenway and Partners. This allowed the firm to take on rather more architectural building projects than the simple functional buildings which the firm had designed since its earliest days.

While many of the architectural jobs were for traditional Arch Henderson projects – such as transit sheds, harbour maintenance depots and ice plants in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh and the expansion of a fish processing plant in Shetland – the firm was also appointed to design a number of office buildings and two rural health centres.

In 1995, the firm’s head office moved again, this time to an office in Rubislaw Terrace, which, at the end of its first century in business, remains its Aberdeen office. And in 1996, the Thurso office opened a satellite office in Kirkwall, to boost the service it could offer its Orkney based clients.

A Glasgow office opened in Clydebank in 1996, to house the staff employed as a result of the success in growing the firm’s client base in the Glasgow area. The firm recruited Alan Kilbride to head this office. Alan had previously worked for W A Fairhurst & Partners and Crouch & Hogg on a variety of marine projects.

In 1999 Alistair Easton resigned from the Partnership, making a career change to work for Shetland and Orkney’s MSPs in the new Scottish Parliament. His place heading the Lerwick Office was taken by Andy Sandison who had joined the firm in 1997, from Mott MacDonald’s Shetland office; his initial post with Arch Henderson being that of the Engineer’s Representative on the reconstruction of the quays at the Greenhead base in Lerwick.

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