multipurpose steel buildings contractors by Reid Steel Buildings UK and Worldwide

About Us - Understanding how REIDsteel was founded

An English Engineer, John Fleetwood Baker, invented the theory and developed the practise of Plastic Design of steel frames. In 1946, at Cambridge University, he built and tested the first portal frame designed by the Plastic Method, and followed this with 2 buildings in 1950.

John Reid and his son Michael Reid were quick on the uptake and by 1956 were already World leaders in the construction of the Archspan Portal Frame family.

Steel was hard to buy in those days, and the 20% or so saving in steel content achieved by Plastic Design, together with the reduction in labour content of these frames, allowed REIDsteel to thrive. Not only at home in England, but all over the world, the economy, durability and low maintenance of REIDsteel portal framed building quickly found a market.

At first, we were building small spans - 30 feet, 40 feet, 50 feet (9, 12, 15 metres). As the availability and size of hot rolled steel sections increased, so the spans increased, 120', 150', 200' became possible.

As the spans were increasing, the use of hot rolled angle or channel purlins and rails were being revolutionised by the practice of making these members using cold rolled Zed shapes. Using relatively thin flat sheet, and bending it into more complex, deeper shapes, REIDsteel Portal framed buildings made further leaps forward into bigger bays, bigger spans and greater economy. The new shapes were stiffer, stronger, lighter, and easier to incorporate into buildings, more compact to pack into containers, and cheaper, too. REIDsteel worked with Manufacturers and Universities to advance the theory and the testing of the sections.
Meanwhile, several developments were helping REIDsteel stay ahead of the opposition. The introduction of propped portals and V braced propped portals gave more economy. The use of portal framed main frames for plastic design joists, mezzanines and multi-storey buildings gave more advances in strength, stiffness, hurricane and earthquake resistance together with more economies.

Perhaps another significant factor was the introduction of computers. Fresh from instructing theory of structures and computer programming at the Royal School of Military Engineering, Rollo Reid joined the Company and set about writing programs: design of portal frames for different spans and loadings, artic shows, tropical hurricanes, earthquakes. Then, coupling these with purlin, side rail, bracing designs, enabling optimisation to try out almost every possible arrangement of the steel in a building, all this at a time where the computer had a memory of one kilobyte and a screen 2 inches across. The computer was then coaxed into drawing a perspective sketch of the building, using a tractor driven type writer banging out asterisks to give a vivid picture of the building; and of typing out a quotation and even punching out a paper tape for immediate telex transmission,

In those early computer days, REIDsteel's ability to send out complete quotations and sketches for a huge variety of building sizes and styles was world beating; and curiously, still is.

Many advances, by our own staff, have enabled us to keep up to speed in the IT age. Sending out e-mail quotations, realistic drawings, cost effective quotations and calculations at the drop of a hat, all have enabled REIDsteel to stay at the forefront and to continue to export worldwide as well as compete in the UK steel framed building market.

Our websites are also effective and bring in trade.

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John REID & Sons Ltd Registered in England & Wales with Company No. 617773
Registred Address: Strucsteel House, 3 Reid St, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 2BT, England
VAT Registration No. 186 2184 48 | Tel:+44 (0)1202 48 33 33 Fax:+44 (0) 1202 470 103 E-mail:

Chairman and Managing Director:  Michael Reid MBE FinstD
Technical Director: 

Rollo Reid C.Eng FIstrucE MICE FinstD

Drawing Office Director:  Tim Reid
Marine Division Director:  Peter Reid
Contracts Director: Simon Boyd FinstD

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