Tony Carroll, a founding partner of Lumsden & Carroll Civil Engineering, passed away on Monday 25th April 2022, aged 82.

Mr Carroll, along with Jack Lumsden, founded Lumsden & Carroll over 50 years ago. In his memory, the North East civil engineering company is paying tribute to their co-founder and reflecting on the legacy he created.

A long way from Tipperary

Tony Carroll was born in Tipperary, Ireland, where he spent his early life before making the move to London in 1958. Mr Carroll would fondly recall that he moved to the capital with just £1.50 to his name but, as a towering man in both stature and personality, he quickly found work as a bouncer to get by.

Described as a devoted and loving family man, Tony met his wife, Anne, at an Irish Dance Hall in London. At age 21, they moved to County Durham’s former colliery village of Esh Winning and went on to have three children - Bernadette, Monica and Tony Jnr.

The Northern Echo: Tony CarrollTony Carroll

Built on humble beginnings

Tony Carroll’s love for construction began when he learnt pipelaying for ‘six bob an hour’ during his time in London. On moving to the North East, he worked for various companies where he set up pipelines, constructed shafts for local mining collieries and he also tried his hand working for a housebuilder.

Putting down roots in Esh Winning and working across local construction sites, Tony Carroll crossed paths with Jack Lumsden many times before they joined forces to become business partners.

It was 1970 which saw the birth of Lumsden & Carroll Civil Engineering, founded by Jack Lumsden and Tony Carroll, the company has helped shape the landscape of civil engineering in the region.

Many big things can chart their history back to some pivotal moments, and for Lumsden & Carroll, that was the meeting between Tony and Jack in the local working men’s club. Tony would proudly reminisce: “I went down into Newhouse Club; it was a tin hut then. I asked Jack to join us, and I says: ‘50/50 Jack’, and we shook hands.” The pairing went on to rebuild the same club a few years later.

Without a car between them, Tony and Jack initially travelled to the sites by bus, with a shovel and wheelbarrow in tow, before eventually recruiting their first employee who had a car, and then purchasing a Bedford CF van for £95.

Fast forward to 1973, and the first official Lumsden & Carroll office was acquired in Esh Winning’s Durham Road.

Constructing a legacy

The years that followed saw Lumsden & Carroll go from strength-to-strength; the duo built up a loyal workforce of local village residents and school-leavers as colliery closures increased, and turnover continued to grow. By 1990 the company was well established, and the appointment of Brian Manning prompted the next step in it's evolution.

The merger of Lumsden & Carroll, Deerness Fencing & Landscaping and Dunelm Homes in 1999 formed Esh Group, and in 2003, Esh House in Bowburn became the new headquarters for the company.

Tony and Jack took pride in employing local people and providing opportunities for growth, building a ‘grow your own’ culture which remains a key part of Esh Group’s culture. Some employees recruited by the duo now hold senior positions in the firm, namely, Stephen Wilkie, who was recruited in 1989 age 17 and now sits on the board as Deputy Chief Executive Officer.

Tony retired in 2000 but remained on the Board of Directors until he passed away, always passionate to see the company he and Jack built continue its growth to the £270 million business it is today.

The Northern Echo: The firms first office on Durham Road in Esh Winning was acquired in 1973. The firms first office on Durham Road in Esh Winning was acquired in 1973.

A winning partnership

When it came to the day-to-day work, both Jack and Tony played to their strengths in their successful partnership. Tony became responsible for the operational management of sites, while Jack managed estimating, payroll, and the general management of the business.

Two years ago, Lumsden & Carroll celebrated its 50th anniversary and the pair met to look back on their journey. Jack commented: “With Tony, you could depend on him doing everything right, there wasn’t a job he did that wasn’t first class.”

Leading the tributes for Tony, Esh Group Chief Executive Officer, Andy Radcliffe, said: “Tony was one of the nicest men you could possibly wish to meet. There are many, many people who will credit him for helping guide them through their careers. His work ethic, dedication and vision is something we can all aspire to.

“The success of Lumsden & Carroll is a testament to Tony’s astute knowledge, hard work and love of all things civil engineering. It is with us as the team at Esh, to take care of his fantastic legacy, and do our best to make him proud.”