Barrie Hookins – A career based on friendship

It is with sadness that we announce that Barrie Hookins, one of the founding partners of Scott White and Hookins, passed away during the night last Thursday at his nursing home in Epsom.

Barrie Hookins in 1988
Barrie Hookins in 1988

On 1st July 1963 Barrie Hookins and Ray Scott-White, along with their wives providing unpaid support, formed Scott-White and Hookins, working out of a small office in Mitcham. At the time of Scott White and Hookins (SWH) 50th anniversary in 2013, Barrie recalled that “Ray and I were working for a firm (Travers Morgan and Partners) of a similar size and nature to SWH today, with two offices in London and much of the work we did was associated with Architects, and Quantity Surveyors working in similarly sized Partnerships. We were conscious of the fact that within most of the firms with which we worked, including Travers Morgan & Partners, the Partners did not get on with each other! Ray approached me in mid-1962 with the suggestion that we should get together to start a firm based on our friendship.

Former SWH partner, Doug Clasby, was Barrie and Rays first member of staff, joining in 1964. He fondly recalls that “in those early days Barrie liked his pipe but had awful habits in cleaning it after a good day of smoking! For many years he was a staunch supporter of British made cars. Driving cars such as the mini estate, the Triumph Herald 1250 and the Triumph 2000 until he found the Mazda with a warranty of five years and free servicing for the same period. (Why wouldn’t you buy one?) He was only caught speeding once and was most indignant complaining in the office about new-fangled speeding cameras. Later he enjoyed driving to the distant offices starting early in the morning to arrive for breakfast meetings with the partner or associate in charge”.

From the outset Barrie and Ray wished to achieve the highest professional standards by attention to quality and standard of all work. Former SWH Chairman and Partner, Peter Blackmore, joined SWH as a trainee in April 1967 recalled “it was a privilege to have known and worked with Barrie throughout my career. He was a true gentleman who knew his own duty, strove to protect the rights of others and was an inspiring role model bringing out the best in everybody he met”.

Barrie was fastidious in writing computer programs in DOS called “Job Control” and time saving standard details for reinforced concrete beams, pile caps and calculations. All of these were used many years within SWH and provided a solid contribution to the running of the business.

As the practice developed, Barrie and Ray oversaw the relocation of the practice to Carshalton as well as the opening offices in Bedford, Bahrain, Winchester, Chester, Exeter, Ipswich and London with a total staff of 130 by the late 1980’s. Barrie was forward thinking in instructing the early implementation of a Quality Assurance system across the practice - SWH being one of the first UK engineering consultancies to gain BSi accreditation in 1991. Barrie recognised the need for associated consultancy services and guided the formation of subsidiary companies in Approved Inspectors (Building Control services), Land and Building surveying and Health & Safety (CDM). It was also Barrie’s foresight in the early days of the internet to register the ‘swh.co.uk’ domain, simplifying our email addresses ever since!

Barrie was excellent in forming long-standing relations with clients such as Trinity College Cambridge and Tesco Stores Ltd amongst many others; work from which has continued for over 45 years.

Our practice owes a great debt of gratitude to Barrie, through his friendship with Ray Scott-White, for building up our company. His influence and guidance on others are reflected by Doug Clasby; “We have lost a great leader. It was a privilege to work with Barrie. He was a very honourable man and his friendship and guidance formed a significant part of all my working life. Engineering” and Peter Blackmore; “He was dedicated to his work and his family; I am thankful to have known him”.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mollie and family in their loss.

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