In 1865 James Nuttall set up a small business in Manchester carrying out road and sewer work. In 1902 his two sons Edmund and James joined the business, trading as Edmund Nuttall & Company.

After James' death in 1904, Edmund continued to develop the company. Edmund Nuttall & Company secured the contract for the pilot headings of the Mersey Tunnel and ultimately carried out most of the civil engineering work associated with its completion. This was at the time the largest underwater tunnel in the world. The six-year contract proved a turning point in the history of the company which grew to its present status as a major UK civil engineering contractor with international repute. Nuttall has been involved in all types and sizes of tunnels including sewer, power and water tunnels, road, rail and metro tunnels and tunnels for hydro-electric power. All three road tunnels under the Mersey, the Tyne Road Tunnel and the first Dartford Tunnel were Nuttall-built.

Having been involved in mechanised tunnelling throughout its existence, Nuttall was one of the pioneers of early tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in the UK. In 1924 the company used the Whitaker tunnelling machine on the Manchester main drainage project. In the 1970s Nuttall designed, manufactured and operated the first slurry tunnelling machine ever used in the world to construct a trial tunnel at New Cross in London. During the early 1970s Nuttall subsidiary Robert L Priestleys designed and manufactured the tunnelling machine used to construct the service tunnel for the Channel Tunnel project. When the project was cancelled by the Government, the TBM was some half a mile offshore.

Ferrovial Agroman

The Ferrovial Group can trace its roots back to 9 June 1927 when Agroman Empresa Constructora was formed in Madrid. Agroman became a limited company two years later but remained a family company for many years.

One of Agroman's first projects was the Madrid Metro in 1929, where they were responsible for the construction of lines I, II, III and IV. Agroman were also engaged for the construction of several underground stations and running tunnels on other metro lines.

Ferrovial, derived from the Spanish word for "railroad", was founded in 1952 by Rafael del Pino who initially had a contract with the Spanish railway authority (RENFE). This work entailed establishing and operating new workshops and undertaking permanent way maintenance. Ferrovial devised an innovative sleeper replacement method which was ultimately adopted throughout the world.

By the early 1960s Ferrovial had become a major Spanish civil engineering contractor, and had diversified into the water and highways sectors. By the mid 1970s, Ferrovial’s international presence extended to Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, Syria, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico and Paraguay.

Ferrovial and Agroman merged in 1999 bringing together the strengths of construction, civil engineering and rail expertise into one group. Since then, the business has further diversified with two distinct business streams – infrastructure maintenance and construction.

Ferrovial Agroman SA is now one of Spain’s leading civil engineering contractors and, in 2003, expanded into the UK market as Ferrovial Agroman UK. Throughout its history, Ferrovial Agroman has been involved in all kinds of civil and building projects, with underground works being one of its core activities delivering 400km of tunnels to date. Most recently, Ferrovial Agroman UK successfully delivered a baggage tunnel at Heathrow airport, linking terminals 1 & 3 to terminal 5 beneath the live taxiways of one the world’s busiest airports.

Kier Group

In 1932 Danish-born Olaf Kier established a London-based civil engineering business having graduated with honours from the Copenhagen University of Engineering.

He was one of a band of Danish civil engineers who, on the strength of their reinforced concrete know-how, advanced to the forefront of civil engineering construction in the UK. Since then, Kier has grown to become synonymous with the best in civil engineering worldwide. Kier's relationship with Nuttall dates back to 1934 when the pair worked in joint venture to build a 15km stretch of the Trans Iranian Railway which involved 8.5km of tunnelling through rock. This long-standing relationship has endured to the present day and most recently, the pair have worked together to deliver the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) contracts 250 and 103.

The company has a proven track record in the delivery of large-scale tunnelling and rail projects worldwide including major projects in the UK and Hong Kong which have seen Kier earn recognition for its award-winning performances. In the early seventies Kier carried out trial tunnels for the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) for the underground railway system on Hong Kong island. Several contracts were won in the initial phase of the underground's development and Kier has been working for the MTRC through the 80's, 90's and into this century. Most recently, Kier has worked on the west rail project on Hong Kong's mainland for the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC).