Finley Structures has completed a 1,100-tonne project which will help to rejuvenate Durham City. The Newton Aycliffe familyrun business was awarded a contract from Sir Robert McAlpine to work on a retail and entertainment complex as part of the multimillion pound Durham Gates redevelopment. The contract came as a personal victory for Finley’s founder and managing director John Finley, (photo right) as it’s the first project he has won in his home city after nearly 40 years in the construction industry. John who’s originally from Esh Winning, says he’s personally delighted to have won it.

He said: “Even going back to my original steel erecting days in the late 1970s I’d never worked on a project in the city. Since starting out in business in 1981 that pattern has continued, despite many student accommodation projects being carried out around the city in recent years. So to have finally won a contract in Durham City is very much a personal victory for me and the company and we’re naturally delighted.” Finley’s part of the project was to fabricate and erect the steel on top of an existing concrete structure. The firm started on-site at Durham earlier this year and has recently finished. John added: “It’s a transfer structure, with a new steel frame that sits on top of that, so it’s quite a challenge. Building up into fresh air is straight forward, but fixing down into existing concrete structures is always much more complex. It’s a good local project we’re all excited to be involved with, and we’re working with main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, with whom we have a longstanding partnership.”

With a 445-bed student accommodation unit, a sixscreen Odeon cinema and half a dozen bars and restaurants, the riverside area will be transformed by 2018. It’s part of three major contracts across the city which represent a £195m investment. The developments will bring a huge range of choice for County Durham foodies, with restaurants including Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Handmade Burger Co and Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay all set to open there eventually. The two-storey glass fronted building will take in views across the river wear of the castle and the Cathedral. Riverwalk is set to open in two stages in 2018 and be completed by that summer.