The History of Murphy Delivering world-class infrastructure since 1951

J. Murphy & Sons Limited is a leading global, multi-disciplined engineering and construction company founded in 1951 that improves lives by delivering world-class infrastructure.

Operating in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada, Murphy provides better engineered solutions to infrastructure sectors including transportation; water; power; natural resources; and construction & property.

Headquartered in London, we also have a number of related businesses – Ground Engineering; Utility Connections; Murphy Plant; Highways & Streetworks; Murphy Process Engineering; Pipeline Testing Services; Specialist Welding Services; and Electrical Services. We are specialists in delivering pipelines; design; marine; structural steel; tunnelling; fabrication; bridges and piling; and invest heavily in our substantial holding of plant, equipment and facilities.

Murphy employs more than 3,500 engineers, professional managers and skilled operatives around the world. Together, we work as ‘One Murphy’ by directly delivering the people, plant and expertise needed to make projects a success.

There’s more to Murphy...

Mr John Murphy - founder of J. Murphy & Sons Limited

The 1930s

Born in County Kerry in 1913, John Murphy arrived in London in the 1930s with an attitude to life that was based on a commitment to deliver under any circumstances. To him ‘getting the job done’ was a guiding principle of business and life in general. When he set up his own company in 1945, it was involved in clearing London’s bombsites and reconstructing airfields on instructions of the War Department. However, he soon diversified into roads, water supplies and drainage in the capital and across the UK. It was this ability to ‘always look forward and envisage what's coming up on the horizon’ that made John Murphy a true visionary, who managed to build an industry giant with a family atmosphere.

John Murphy had a deft touch for combining entrepreneurial flair with an understanding of the value of people. Over the years, he has been recognised for his contribution to the nation’s business life, receiving fellowships and university doctorates. Never afraid to ‘get his hands dirty’, John Murphy inspired loyalty in his workforce and customers. His lasting legacy is demonstrated in an intelligent and flexible organisation committed to finding solutions, whatever the challenges.

A Murphy Aggregates train at Charlton Docks

The 1950s

In 1951, John Murphy established J. Murphy & Sons Limited. Initially working on post-war regeneration projects, the focus soon switched to the specialist reconstruction of the country’s electrical infrastructure, including the growing General Post Office (GPO) telephone cable network.

A typical 1950s utilities project

An early realisation of the need for ready mixed concrete, which fueled the green light for motorway construction at the end of the decade, led to a long standing involvement supplying the product through premixed concrete. This included sourcing sea-dredged aggregates using the company owned dredger and wharf facility at Charlton.

Construction of a cable tunnel in Birmingham

The 1960s

The 1960s saw Murphy become involved in road expansion programmes, water services and Post Office cable installation. The company also diversified into petrol stations and car show rooms, owning four across London, including a Ford dealership in Enfield.

In 1965, Murphy Pipelines was established, offering design and construction services for gas, oil, water and process industries.

Fire main installation, Fords London
Gas pipe installation, Essex
Concrete batching plant
Post Office cable installation, The Mall
Redbridge Library construction
Redbridge swimming pool construction
Battersea Bridge refurbishment - 1970s


During the 1970s, the introduction of natural gas pipelines in the UK and Ireland was amongst one of the greatest infrastructure achievements. The result truly resonated with the company’s mission to improve life by building world-class infrastructure.

Early use of x-ray for pipelines

The 1970s also saw the start of the company’s involvement in national rail reconstruction projects, first with British Rail and continuing today with Network Rail.

Leicester Square pedestrianisation

Building and property development, for both the private and public sectors, became a major part of the business during this period.

Bexley Heath Magistrates Court

Murphy established a close working relationship with Thames Water after its creation in 1974. They are a valued client that enjoy a successful business relationship with Murphy to this day.

Left: Cork Harbour gas pipeline | Middle: Plant and transport yard | Right: 1970s Headquarters at Highbury Corner, London
The 1980s proved to be a decade of exciting projects and growth at Murphy...
Plant in the 1980s

The 1980s

In 1980, Murphy undertook major developments across London, including the construction of a tunnel to link Stansted Airport to the rail network.

Tunnel boring machine
Tunnel segment and track completed at Stansted Airport

By 1984, the company had outgrown its offices at Highbury Corner and relocated to new headquarters at Hiview House in Kentish Town, where it continues to be based today. The company continued to grow and flourish in its new offices, expanding into new areas and developing its capabilities.

Hiview House offices in the 1980s
Hiview House - 1980s
Hiview House interior

In 1989, the company's significant contribution to the gas industry resulted in the election of John Murphy as a fellow, by the Institute of Gas Engineers. This was awarded for service to the gas industry.

Top left: Baling plant installation | Top middle: Gas pipeline build, Theddlethorpe | Top right: Birmingham Post Office cable tunnel | Bottom left: Pipeline testing | Bottom right: 1980s plant


Background image: Angel Underground Station modernisation

In 1994, Murphy started work on the London water ring main, constructing two major sections of this extensive and essential infrastructure project.

City of London cable tunnel

The company won the coveted British Construction Industry award in the civil engineering category, for achievements on this project.

Blackwall tunnel ventilation upgrade

As a result of the long standing support of the University College Cork (UCC) department of civil and environmental engineering, a new laboratory was named after John Murphy in 1995 and a plaque was unveiled in 1996.

Cable utilities project
Light installation - Westminster Bridge
Aberford to Pannal gas pipeline - 2000s


Channel Tunnel rail link

In 2000, Murphy started construction of the Channel Tunnel rail link in a joint venture with Hochtief. The project involved the construction of twin tunnels under the River Thames.

Project control room

Murphy was awarded the contract for the design and construction of the £150m Brecon to Tirley gas pipeline in 2005. This was followed by Murphy winning the major contract for constructing the Olympic Park in 2006. Its scope was to construct the major cable tunnels and substations required to power the event.

Bankside to Farringdon cable tunnel

During the 2000s, the company went from strength to strength, with major projects including upgrading the Blackwall Tunnel and Angel Underground Station upgrades.

Top left: Development of south concourse, Liverpool, Lime Street | Top right: Security - Westminster | Bottom left: West Bolden substation | Bottom middle: West Teeside GasPort docking facility | Bottom right: Installation of Europe's longest ticket barrier

On 7 May 2009, John Murphy passed away at the age of 95 at his home in London surrounded by his family. He left an enduring legacy.


Canadian pipeline project, High Pines

The 2010s proved an exciting time for Murphy, the company expanded into Australia, forming Murphy Pipe and Civil, completing its first coal seam gas gathering field in Queensland’s Surat Basin. Our Canadian joint venture, Surerus Murphy (SMJV) was formed, which carries out large-diameter pipeline construction throughout Western Canada for the oil and gas industries.

Spider Plough - Australia

Following the success of the Channel Tunnel, in 2012 Murphy in joint venture with Hochtief secured contracts working on Crossrail. This included constructing the £250m tunnel section between Plumstead and North Woolwich.

Crossrail tunnel

In 2016, Murphy entered a new phase focusing on four main sectors - rail, water, power and natural resources - building on long standing relationships and more than sixty years of experience. The senior leadership team was strengthened and a Ten Year Plan launched to help grow the business up to 2025. Murphy further enhanced its capabilities through acquisitions in 2017 of AECOM in Ireland and subsequently the power sector of Carillion in 2018.

John Murphy CEO
“My Grandfather would be proud of where the business is today. He would challenge us to continue to develop and progress the business but not to lose sight of the importance of profitability, cash, customers and people.”

Murphy owns and operates an extensive fleet of plant and machinery.

Our ‘Never Harm’ core value places safety and sustainability at the heart of every project we deliver, and at every level of our business.

Murphy has continued to innovate and diversify, moving into new sectors and business opportunities.
There's more to Murphy

What we do...

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