J. Daly & Sons (Building Contractors) Ltd

 


J. Daly & Sons (Building Contractors) Ltd is proud to be associated with their historical family legacy, which helped to “Sow the Seeds” and assist in establishing the fine Company it is today.


J. and T. Walsh and Rebuilding Birmingham

 

Those who ran the Birmingham of the 1960s were resolved to transform the city into a place where the future had become the present. Looking for inspiration to the towering structures and freeways of New York, Chicago and other great American cities, they strove to scoop up the past and in its place raise up a modernistic town centre.
By 1966 the new Birmingham was triumphant and even a reporter in ‘The Times’ was moved to exclaim that it was one of the showpieces of Europe. The old Bull Ring had been swept away from the landscape so swiftly and thoroughly that now it was merely a memory.

In its place had been constructed a futuristic Bull Ring Centre that boasted 350,000 square feet of retail trading space and which drew superlatives from its supporters. They proclaimed it to be the ‘world’s most advanced shopping centre’, and declared that its market hall was not only the finest retail market area in Europe but also perhaps across the globe.

Overlooking this tribute to modernism was the iconic Rotunda. Cylindrical in shape, it was 266 feet tall and was one amongst many high-rise buildings that were transforming Birmingham’s skyline. Below it, cars were driven along the Smallbrook Queensway, the first section of an American-style freeway that would soon encircle the city centre. Opened in 1960 its pedestrian subways heralded the new age in which citizens who walked were to be forced below the ground in motor city UK.

Irish building firms and workers played a crucial role in that radical change – a role that has often been stated but one that has been little researched or detailed. One of those companies was that of J. and T. Walsh. The two brothers, John (better known as Sean) and Terry set up the company in Ireland, but sadly Sean died young and Terry moved from the West to Dublin, where he began a successful development company.

By the mid-1950s, Terry was established in Birmingham, with offices and a yard in Great Colmore Street. During this decade, tens of thousands of people were on the waiting list for a Council property and whilst the building of new corporation homes went on apace, many back-to-backs were refurbished as a short-term measure. J. and T. Walsh were involved in this process, but also worked as sub-contractors in bigger projects for larger construction firms such as J. J. Gallagher.

One such was the ‘Big Top’ on New Street, close to the junction of High Street. This had been bombed during the war, and for a few years afterwards it was used a car park and as a site for a circus whose acts performed under a Big Top. This was transformed into offices and shops from 1954 onwards and as such was the first major development in the city centre after the war.

In the mid-1960s, Terry Walsh went on to develop Keel Drive and Burke Avenue in Moseley, close to the ford by Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground. The former recalls the beautiful Keel Strand on Achill Island, whilst the latter refers to one of the tribes of Galway.

Founded as a family business, J. and T. Walsh resolutely remained one. Terry was joined by his brothers Kevin, Jimmy, Gerry, Francis and Donald, whilst his sister, Collette Daly, was the company secretary. Her husband, James, was also involved before starting out on his own.

Sadly the Walsh family suffered the tragic loss of another brother at a young age, and in the late 1960s Terry and three of his other brothers returned to Ireland. Kevin Walsh remained with his wife, Angela – as did his sister, Collette and brother-in-law, James Daly. James and Kevin carried on sub-contracting for many local building companies until late 1968 when the two families and their eight children emigrated to Melbourne in Australia.

Here James and Kevin worked on the prestigious new Tullamarine Airport along with many other workers from England. Unbeknownst to them, one of them was Ronnie Biggs, one of the ‘Great Train Robbers’, who was there before he left for Brazil.

After this contract had finished James and Kevin were engaged on smaller projects but their hearts were still in Birmingham and after three years away the two families decided to return. Back home their high reputation for quality workmanship meant that they quickly picked up from where they had left off, sub-contracting to many of the local contractors.

Then in the mid-1980s, whilst sub-contracting to L. A. Fallon of Brighton Road in Balsall Heath, James & Collette Daly felt it was time to make full use of their experience in contracting and administration to set up J. Daly & Sons building contractors.

Collette became company secretary, whilst James oversaw the contracting side. In 1987, they were joined by their two sons, Seamus and Peter. Today J. Daly & Sons remains very much a family concern, with daughter Mary Sumner now the company secretary and supported by her sister, Bernadette.

The family ethos infuses everything to do with the business. Peter stresses that his brother and sisters owe so much to "our forefamilies"' for the experience gained and for the high morals inherited, which in turn, have been absorbed, passed down and now flourish within the company leading to the ethical approach which is very much evident today.’
 


A photo showing the refurbishment of back-to-backs by J. and T. Walsh in the 1950s.

 

 

"A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY"

Dedicated to:-

Collette Daly (nee Walsh), Company Secretary
Kevin, Terence, Jimmy, Gerry, Sean, Francis & Donald Walsh

Also a special thanks to Birmingham Historian Professor Carl Chinn for his research and input.

 

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SERVICES

    • Carpentry - 1st fix
    • Carpentry - 2nd fix
    • Brickwork and blockwork
    • Flooring
    • Windows and glazing
    • Dry lining and plastering
    • Plumbing
    • Roofing and claddings
    • Drainage and civils
    • Fencing
    • Soft landscapes
    • Decorating
    • Maintenance
    • New Builds
    • Extensions
    • Renovation and Alterations