Serving our Members for 80 Years

2021 is a significant milestone for the CPA, as it marks the association’s 80 year anniversary. The CPA was originally formed in 1941 by a group of contractors and early plant-hire companies, and at that time we were known as the Contractors Plant Association. Our early work involved discussions with the Ministry of Works regarding the supply of plant and machinery for reconstruction projects during World War II. The association’s first AGM was held on 24th September 1941 and was chaired by Douglas Abelson of Abelson & Co (Engineers) Ltd, supported by Harold Spragg of Crow, Catchpole & Co Ltd. Harold was the individual whose vision and determination really got the association established to the overall benefit of the UK plant-hire industry. As a founder member of the CPA, he became the association’s first President and Chairman of the Executive Council. He was awarded a CBE in 1960 for his work and served the CPA until he passed away in 1968.

By the end of World War II, the CPA had accumulated around 100 members. By that time, we were actively involved in advising on hire issues and the concept of plant-hire was well and truly established in Britain. It is without question that one of the most significant achievements of the CPA was the creation of the Model Conditions for the Hiring of Plant. These were first issued as the General Conditions back in 1951 and their creation took two years of intense discussions. Since then there have been several updates to the Model Conditions, and in fact they are currently undergoing a review with an updated version due later this year, alongside several Supplementary Conditions. From the outset, the policy of the CPA has been governed by a Council composed of elected representatives from the membership.

Over the years, Council members have included many influential names from across the UK plant-hire industry and the expertise they have voluntarily provided has helped the association grow and prosper. By 1981, when more plant was being purchased by plant-hire companies as opposed to contractors, we changed our name to the Construction Plant-hire Association but still retained our iconic initials.

As the CPA grew, we gained our own offices and full time staff. We maintain a list of our current members in date order of their joining the association and at the top of this list is a company whose membership dates right back to 1st July 1941. That founder member is Plantire of Ashford in Middlesex. Today the company specialises in the hire of construction hoists and transport platforms but it started out by hiring excavators. The second oldest CPA Member still trading is Marsh Plant who joined the association in 1950 when the business was known as Marsh Plant & Machinery Co. Another long-standing CPA Member is Clee Hill Plant who joined the CPA in 1960 when the company was trading as the Clee Hill Plant & Transport Co.

We are extremely thankful for the support of our members who have helped the CPA flourish over the years. In the latter part of our history, a number of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were created to ensure that equipment is operated correctly and safely on site. This has resulted in the creation of numerous standards, Technical Information Notes (TINs) and Good Practice Guides, often with HSE endorsement. These publications have helped to make our industry a safer place for all.

We’re also very proud of our work to develop apprenticeship standards, to encourage young people into the industry and our Stars of the Future apprentice and trainee awards scheme, which itself reaches its 10-year anniversary in 2022. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we’re delighted to report that the CPA is flourishing with increasing influence and welcoming new members on a weekly basis, with our current membership at over 1,700.