50 years of International Construction magazine: Part 1 - the first issues

By Chris Sleight09 February 2012

The first cover of International Construction from September 1962.

The first cover of International Construction from September 1962.

We delve back into the archives to mark International Construction's 50th birthday, starting with the first few issues of the magazine from late 1962.

The first edition of International Construction, published in September 1962 by Iliffe Industrial Publications, bears little resemblance to today's magazine.

Printed in black and white (with the occasional splash of a single colour), the magazine was even a different size, thanks to the use of an old-fashioned square paper stock measuring 11.25 in (286 mm) each side.

Reproducing photos even in black & white was expensive in those days, so many advertisers opted for illustrations instead.

Meanwhile the layout procedure involved cutting and sticking elements like text, headlines, logos and pictures together by hand, which often resulted in some shaky lines and dubious quality artwork.

But however primitive the reprographics looked, the magazine still had a clear focus on the global construction market. Opening the first issue leads straight to a lengthy news article on the construction of a massive new port in Tema, Ghana, just east of the capital Accra.

Built by Taylor Woodrow and George Wimpey to Sir William Halcrow & Partner's design, the project included some 4.83 km of breakwaters and had a budget of UK£ 26 million - about
UK£ 450 million (US$ 705 million) in today's money.

The magazine can also trace its focus on construction equipment back to the first issue, with in-depth pieces on a range of three new wheeled loaders from UK manufacturer Chaseside (later acquired by JCB) and a report on the use of a Gradall excavator for construction of a 700 ft (213 m) drainage canal in Port Arthur, Texas, US, to name just two.

Like the magazine itself, the machines of 50 years ago look primitive compared to today's models. Chaseside's loaders for example did not have any cab or canopy, although they did feature power steering and power assisted brakes.

Early highlights

The issues of iC that followed in 1962 maintained many of these elements. Reports on construction technology included a look at various pumped storage hydro-electric power schemes around the world and the lining of tunnels using 'Dongseg' pre-cast concrete panels.

Featured projects included the construction of the Vincent Thomas Bridge at the port of Los Angeles, US and the Taum Sauk power project in St Louis, Missouri.

But founding editor A J K Moss, was clearly an equipment man at heart. A well-respected technical author, he had already had several books published when he took up the editor's mantle in 1962, with previous work including the 1955 300+ -page 'Servicing Guide to British Motor Vehicles.'

This interest in equipment is clear from the pages of the magazine, with product news and exhibition stories - a review of the UK's Public Works Exhibition is a feature of the December 1962 issue - throughout the magazine.

Many manufacturers have since been acquired or gone out of business, but companies featured in those first issues that still grace the pages of iC today include Caterpillar, Cummins, Gradall and Thwaites.

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