Golden Years

Douglas Beckwith
Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Douglas Beckwith marks 50 years in the Construction Industry

First Pay Slip

This month marks the 50th anniversary of my starting work in the construction industry as a quantity surveyor.  I joined Piper and Richardson in Holborn, London in the days when we still measured Bills of Quantities in feet and inches, there were no calculators and I got very good at “squaring” dimensions, “abstracting” and “billing”.

I have seen a lot of change in 50 years yet despite all our achievements as an industry many of the attitudes that prevailed in the 1970's still exist today.  I have also seen 4 recessions impact the industry and learned how to get through them.  I have embraced change throughout and was an early adopter of technology; writing code in Basic for measuring drainage, as I recall.  A long way from CostX and BIM of today!

Most importantly I have met lots of people.  Some were kind and helpful.  Some were not.  (Though I'm not sure whether being called a "terrorist" by the MD of Gatwick Airport Limited helped or hindered my career!).  There are so many people that I could mention but here are a few that I am most grateful to: Donald Richardson FRICS, Clifford Beard FRICS MBE, Colin Dove FRICS, Stan Hornagold FRICS, David Baker, David Needham FRICS, Jo Stringer, Doug Jones and most of all John Lowry FAIQS.  Thank you all.

I hope that in turn I too have assisted others along the way and I have always shared my skills and knowledge freely.  Those I have worked with and trained and those whom I have counselled through their APC to corporate membership of the RICS will know who they are.  My advice to young persons entering the industry today?  Know what you want.  Set your goals.  Surround yourself with good people.  Work hard.  Be resilient.

Many of my contemporaries have now retired.  Some are no longer with us.  But I am not yet ready to hang up the scale rule.

Whilst I will continue to gently pursue my interests in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (something I have been doing since 1988), I shall also be working with James Beckwith FRICS to develop Mensura Limited – a new concept in quantity surveying.  Mensura has successfully “deconstructed” quantity surveying and formulated a new way of offering professional services putting Clients back in control of their projects and achieving cost savings on traditionally based lump sum fees.  Come and see how we are doing it at

I doubt that I will make another 50 years but however long I have left in the industry, it’s going to be a blast!

I couldn’t end without paying homage to my wife, Sue, who has endured these long years with me.  And of course my children whom I told to avoid both construction and law in their future careers - they are: the one that became a construction lawyer, the one that became a quantity surveyor, the one that married a quantity surveyor and the one that became an environmental lawyer. 


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