THE region's oldest family-owned construction firm is expanding its specialist joinery division across the UK, The Northern Echo can reveal.

T Manners and Sons, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, says it will invest in apprentices and double its workshop after increasing turnover.

The division employs 15 joiners making furniture for hotel chains and products for police custody suites, NHS secure units and cash collection counters.

Loading article content

It previously worked on Durham University’s £50m Palatine Centre and was selected to provide services on projects across the UK.

The move comes after the fifth-generation 154-year-old company, which made wings for Sopwith Camel and SE5 fighter planes in the First World War, saw overall turnover lift 30 per cent to £10m in 2013.

The firm also runs construction and small works divisions, and bosses say it has already won contracts worth more than £4.5m this year, including a project to build accommodationnn at Larchfield Community, in Hemlington, near Middlesbrough.

Simon Manners, company director, told The Northern Echo the firm was ready to expand.

He said: “We have already completed projects from Kent to Aberdeen.

“Now is the time to build on those successes and expand to meet the national demand for such specialised services.

“Our investment in recruitment and training means we've got the craftsmen and facilities required to deliver our services across the UK.”

Steve Hodges, Manners' joinery director, said his division's industry standing was paying real dividends.

He added: “We have built a strong reputation for quality and service with our clients in the North-East, many of which are national companies.

“They are now asking us to take on projects in other UK regions and we will be able to service these clients without compromising the quality of service.”

The company, based on Bishop Auckland's South Church Enterprise Park, employs more than 60 workers.

Last year, Manners revealed a number of contracts across the region, including a deal to improve energy efficiency and carry out repairs to more than 50 homes in Spennymoor, County Durham, and extend a community building for The Salvation Army, in Gateshead.

Founded in 1860 by Thomas Manners, in Peel Street, Bishop Auckland, the firm was first handed down to Thomas' son, Robert, who was gassed in the First World War trenches.

He eventually brought in his son, Brian, who had spent much of the Second World War training fighter pilots.

Brian's son, Robert, the great-grandson of founder Thomas, is now the company's managing director, with his son, Simon, a company director.