We use functional cookies for a number of reasons, such as keeping the Costain website reliable and secure and to analyse how our site is being used.
Will you accept our use of non-essential cookies?

Yes No Privacy Notice

101 facts about Costain

Here are 101 things you didn't know about Costain - and we're working on another 101.

  1. Costain was the first UK contractor to win the Queen's Award for Export Achievement in 1971.
  2. Costain built the Kariba township in Zimbabwe in 15 months to house 10,000 people.

3. The Group was founded in Liverpool in 1865 by Richard Costain, aged 26, a jobbing builder from the Isle of Man.

  1. In 1935, Costain built 11 miles of the Trans-Iranian Railway, seven tunnels and two viaducts in isolated mountainous terrain - for £1 million.
  2. Six 30,000 tonne concrete tunnel segments were sunk into position on the Conwy riverbed by the Costain joint venture - to a tolerance of 10 millimetres.
  3. Costain built the Skylon and Dome of Discovery for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
  4. Costain has produced more than 50 million precast concrete railway sleepers since commercial production began in 1943.
  5. 51,000 tonnes of structural steelwork and 214,000 cubic metres of concrete were used to build the Thames Barrier, on which Costain was lead contractor.
Thames Barrier_Costain
The Thames Barrier
  1. From 1961-1973 Costain produced 34.5 million tonnes of washed coal from Westfield opencast mine in Scotland - the largest in Europe.
  2. Costain completed Hong Kong's first cross-harbour tunnel in 1972 - a 1,850 metre steel immersed tube tunnel.
  3. More than 10,500 drawings were needed to design the £232 million Dubai Dry Dock.
  4. Costain owned, developed and built Dolphin Square in the 1930s - then the largest block of flats in Europe.

13. Costain was a founder member of the Channel Tunnel joint venture.

  1. Costain has built more than 100 Tesco stores since 1967.
  2. The £500 million Mina Jebel Ali port and industrial development in Dubai required Costain to dredge 107 million cubic metres of sand, sandstone and rock.
  3. The 1,377 metre Tsing Ma suspension bridge built in consortium in Hong Kong is the world's longest combined road and rail bridge.


Tsing Ma Bridge
Tsing Ma Bridge
  1. Costain was floated as a public company in 1933 with a share capital of £600,000.
  2. In the late 1970s, Costain secured the £300 million export contract for a chemical plant in Poland - at that time, the largest ever award.
  3. Richard Costain, one of the grandsons of the founder, was knighted in 1954 for his services to the nation.
  4. Costain built Dubai International Airport - the first in the Middle East designed to take Jumbo Jets.

21. Costain was responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of Shell's £100 million third fractionation module at Mossmorran in Fife.

  1. The estimate for the construction of Dolphin Square was completed in one weekend, and was within a halfpenny per cubic foot of the original calculation.
  2. Wartime work included 26 aerodromes, part of the Mulberry Harbours, munitions factories and 15,000 post-war prefabricated Airey houses.
  3. Costain carried out the world's longest horizontal directional drilling project in Venezuela to lay a 1,400 metre long gas pipeline beneath the Orinoco River.
  4. The Royal Citadel fort, Plymouth, was built by Sir Francis Drake, and rebuilt by Costain.

26. Costain features in the nation's Top 100 'Most Admired' companies.

  1. Between 1990-1993 Costain quadrupled coal production from the Amlohri mine in remote northern India, as part of an ODA-funded project.
  2. 56,000 tonnes of explosives was needed in the land reclamation project to provide the new Hong Kong Airport platform.
  3. Construction of the new stands at Murrayfield Stadium started the day after the 1992 rugby season ended and were ready for the next season - 42 weeks later.
  4. The largest dredging fleet ever assembled, including the world's largest dredger, was deployed on the Hong Kong Airport Platform project.
Hong Kong Airport_Costain
Hong Kong Airport
  1. A Costain joint venture won the £50 million contract to build BP Exploration's 70,000 tonne gravity oil storage tank for its Forth Field.
  2. 650,000 man-hours, 20,000 metres of pipework, 130,000 metres of cable and 4,000 cubic metres of concrete went into Enron UK's Teesside processing plant.
  3. The 750MW Shajiao B Power Station in the People's Republic of China was designed, built and operating in 22 months.
  4. Costain played a key role in the design and building of the first of a new generation of combined heat and power stations at Deptford, South London.
  5. Westfield opencast coal mine in Scotland, operated by Costain for 25 years, was the largest man-made excavation in Europe.

36. The contract to upgrade 4.5 kilometres of the A26 and build new road and rail bridges was completed one year ahead of schedule.

  1. A continuous slip-forming operation was used to build the twin towers of the Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong; and 400,000 cubic metres of concrete were poured at up to 3,000 cubic metres a day for the whole project.
  2. Costain divers working on the construction of the Psyttalia sewer outfalls, in Greece, wore Newt suits developed by NASA for their astronauts.
  3. The UK cross-over cavern in the Channel Tunnel is large enough to accommodate three double-decker buses on top of each other.


Channel Tunnel, Costain
The Channel Tunnel
  1. A Costain joint venture built the world's largest floating concrete dock - an 85,000 tonne facility for the Ministry of Defence's Trident programme.
  2. In the biggest project of its kind in Europe, Costain used 35,000 cubic metres of polystyrene for the foundations of a new bridge over the River Derwent.
  3. Costain discovered the remains of the 16th Century Rose Court theatre in Southwark - and developed plans to preserve it while building new offices above.
  4. The Costain consortium building the Hong Kong Airport Platform had to shift the equivalent of 367 Empire State Buildings as part of the earth-moving project.
  5. Costain's Centenary year, 1965, was also notable for the introduction of the mini skirt by Mary Quant and the launch of the Early-Bird satellite.

45. Costain won 'Contractor of the Decade' Award by New Civil Engineer at the magazine's 2010 annual awards.

  1. Costain's HK$150 million Pak Kong water treatment project was a major step in providing clean water to every community in Hong Kong.
  2. Port Rashid in Dubai, built by a Costain joint venture in the 1960s, was then the largest deep-water port in the Middle East.
  3. Costain's wartime entry into opencast coal-mining was on a rhubarb plantation in Wakefield, using excavators last used on the Panama Canal.
  4. In March, 1940, 692 (Costain) Company, Royal Engineers, arrived in France to join the British Expeditionary Force and build aerodromes for the RAF.
  5. Personnel worked inside 602 compartments along 3.7km of box girders to strengthen Bidston Moss Viaduct on The Wirral with 400 tonnes of steel reinforcement.
Bidston Moss, Costain
Bidston Moss Viaduct
  1. Costain built the tallest building in Zimbabwe - the £80 million Reserve Bank.
  2. Costain created the largest and deepest hole ever made in London clay during construction of the Aldersgate office complex.
  3. Costain won the first contract for Glaxo in 1935 - a £300,000 factory at Greenford - and 55 years on the Company completed Glaxo's £50 million research centre at Ware.
  4. When Costain built Lambeth Bridge House in 1938 as the headquarters for the Ministry of Works, it was the largest office block in Europe.
  5. In 1989, Costain won the largest precast concrete contract ever let for retail use in the UK - for The Shires shopping centre in Leicester.

56. A Costain-Skanska jv is a major player in creating the £14.8 billion Crossrail route through central London.

  1. The last concrete caisson to form part of the Royal Navy's £13 million Weston Mill Lake jetty weighed 2,000 tonnes and was called Henry VIII.
  2. Did you know Costain replaced Tower Pier, (installing two pontoons and two access bridges), which is the world's busiest pier for pedestrian traffic.
  3. Costain built the 210MW power station for Sri Lanka's Victoria Dam and hydro-electric scheme - at the time, Britain's largest overseas aid project.
  4. Costain was one of the leading companies in Building Schools for the Future, the UK Government's biggest investment in education for half a century.

61. Costain designed and built the 40MW power plant and fuel processing facilities for Scottish Power in Yorkshire.

  1. Costain built the biggest fibreglass roof in the world - made up of 56 100 square-metre 'umbrellas' - for the Dubai International Airport.
  2. Costain built an oil additives plant in Tomsk, in Siberia, and a nitrogen plant on stilts on the Alaska permafrost.
  3. Costain is responsible for the design, procurement, construction, commissioning and initial operation of a new 55 tonne/day butane plant and load-out facility in Oman.
  4. Costain was responsible for the largest municipal waste contract in Western Europe (£397 million), for the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, involving 43 facilities on 27 sites.


Greater Manchester Waste Facility
  1. A Costain consortium completely restored London’s St Pancras Station, in its time the world’s largest single-span enclosed space.
  2. Costain announces a major national fund-raising campaign to mark the Company’s 150 year anniversary in 2015.
  3. Together with China Harbour Engineering Co., Costain built one of the world’s largest offshore breakwaters, off western Mexico.

69. Costain is a major player in decommissioning first-generation nuclear power stations.

  1. Costain undertook a major refurbishment of London landmark, St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square. 
  2. Costain was called in to rectify one of the UK’s biggest construction failures, the collapse of a rail tunnel at Gerrard’s Cross, Bucks.
  3. As part of the A-one Plus consortium, Costain maintains a significant part of England’s motorway and trunk road network.
  4. Costain created 28 giant underground caverns capable of holding 400 million m³ of gas as part of the Stublach Gas Storage project, Cheshire.
  5. Costain lifted into place the world’s largest span corrugated steel tunnel in Llanelli in 2007.
  6. The refurbishment of the M25 Holmesdale Tunnel, north of London, was voted the UK’s best-managed traffic roadworks.
  7. Costain constructed the UK’s largest scientific facility in 30 years, the £260 million Diamond Synchrotron project in Oxfordshire. The Synchrotron studies materials at molecular level.
The £260 million Diamond Synchrotron project in Oxfordshire
  1. Walton Bridge, constructed by Costain, is the first new crossing of the Thames for 30 years.
  2. Costain carried out one of the UK’s biggest bridge slides, moving a 250-foot, 5,000-tonne deck for Wolvercote Viaduct, near Oxford over 19 hours.
  3. The Oyo water supply project in Nigeria, to provide 165,000 cubic metres of drinking water per day, included the construction (by Costain) of 60 reservoirs.

80. Costain is acting as a consultant on the proposed High Speed 2 rail link, providing buildability advice.

  1. The Peacehaven wastewater treatment works near Brighton is covered with a grass roof equivalent in area to almost three football pitches.
  2. Costain's section of the Trans-Iranian railway was built through the Zagros mountains in record time and in temperatures of up to 132° in the shade.
  3. Manchester became the world’s first regional airport capable of handling the Airbus A380 super-jumbo following Costain’s work to accommodate the 560-tonne aircraft.
  4. Felixstowe South Reconfiguration Project at the East Anglian container port required 18 million paving blocks to surface its new container storage area.

85. Costain was the UK’s first construction and engineering company to launch an Apple iPad app.

  1. Costain built the UK’s largest waste-to-energy plant at Belvedere, on the Thames, capable of powering 66,000 homes by burning London’s rubbish.
  2. Costain is playing a lead role in developing Next-Generation Carbon Capture Technology capable of reducing CO₂ emissions by 95%.
  3. Costain is handling a £400 million project to redevelop London Bridge Station, which will increase its passenger capacity by 50%.


London Bridge redevelopment
London Bridge redevelopment
  1. More than 400 engineering and procurement specialists are consulting for major power and energy customers, innovating solutions at over a dozen UK power stations, supporting a generating capacity in excess of 18GW.
  2. The 4Delivery joint venture, of which Costain is part, has designed, delivered and commissioned more than £1 billion of water assets since 2005.
  3. The Costain 150 Challenge will commemorate Costain’s 150th anniversary raising £1million in 2015 for the Costain Foundation’s four chosen charities – the British Heart Foundation, Macmillan Cancer Support, youth charity The Prince’s Trust and The Samaritans.



92. In August 2013 Costain acquired EPC Offshore, a specialist oil & gas project management services company, for an initial consideration of £9.6 million (plus £1.0 million for excess cash).

Oil and Pipeline Agency
The OPA's Government Pipeline and Storage System
  1. Costain has delivered the largest nitrogen rejection project in the world for PEMEX, Mexico, using proprietary process technology to remove inert nitrogen from liquefied natural gas.
  2. In 2012, Costain was awarded a contract to maintain the UK Government’s strategic 2,000km oil transportation network owned by the Oil Pipeline Agency.
  3. Costain has developed process technology for safe, reliable and operable liquefaction of natural gas on floating vessels so as to monetise remote gas fields that otherwise would be uneconomic.
  4. In August 2012 Costain was awarded one of two places in Magnox's £288m Infrastructure Construction Enablers framework, covering 10 sites in the UK.

97. Costain delivered the Holford Gas Storage plant in Cheshire for E.ON UK with the capacity to serve 3.5 million homes.

  1. Costain carried out maintenance of the import jetties at Coryton Oil Refinery for 40 years.
  2. Costain was the first UK engineering/construction industry company to use a remotely-controlled miniature aircraft to take aerial photographs of worksites.
  3. Costain handled Europe’s second-largest land drainage scheme at St Germans, Norfolk, installing a pumping station that protects 70,000 hectares of low-lying land from flooding and which can pump 100 tonnes of water per second.

101. In 2020, Costain became one of the world's first to achieve the BSI Kitemark for innovation.