Our interview with Bob Blake, Chairman of Ashe Group, and discover the early beginnings of Ashe.


Ashe Developments established in Bedford by Melvyn Branch and Robert Blake

Whilst working for a London based consultancy firm, Bob and Melvin saw an opportunity in the market to form a housebuilding company and through their enthusiasm and drive, they formed Ashe Developments.

Originally buying plots of land to construct 3-4 houses at a time across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.


Moved to Hermitage Road in Hitchin as Ashe Construction

A national recession saw a huge decline in the housing market. It was at this time, Bob and Melvin decided to re-focus the business into main contracting and began working with public sector clients to deliver their building needs.


Moved to our current site in Cooks Way, Hitchin

Another relocation for the business, this time, staying in Hitchin. Ashe House was built and whilst it has been extended and remodelled since, this building still remains the head office of the Ashe Group.


Ashe House extension

Ashe the size of our project grew, as did the number of staff at Ashe and an extension was needed to our head office facility in Hitchin. Ashe House was transformed from a single storey office to now include a 2 storey extension. The new office featured reference’s to the Blake family’s Scandinavian connections with a glulam timber frame and shiplap panelled ceiling in the first floor office space.


Turnover surpasses £10m for the first time

Notable projects to help us reach this turnover landmark included; a Pizza Hut in Milton Keynes, a Waitrose supermarket in Harrow and a new sports centre at Hitchin Boys’ School.


Turnover surpasses £20m for the first time

With the turn of the millennium Ashe reached a new milestone of £20m turnover, and the companies focus on public sector work was becoming more evident with schemes at; Broxbourne School, Sir Frederic Osborne School in Welwyn Garden City, and Inn The Park Café in St James’ Park London (pictured).


Won our first framework position

Our first position on a framework was with the brand-new Hertfordshire County Council framework, delivering public sector projects across Hertfordshire. Projects delivered via this framework included; Holtsmere School in Hemel Hempstead and Stonehill School in Letchworth.


Robin Blake appointed Managing Director of Ashe Construction

Having worked as a Project Manager and Surveyor at Ashe Construction for 8 years, with the sad passing of our former MD, Melvin Branch, Robin took over as Managing Director with the continued support of his father, Bob Blake in his position as Chairman.

Robin had experience working for international contractors in the UK, France and Denmark before joining the family business.


First Scape framework awarded. Turnover surpasses £40m for the first time.

Following our successes on the SmarteEast framework, Ashe were successfully awarded a position on the Scape empa framework, and with this our turnover surpassed £40m for the first time.

The empa framework saw us working across the midlands to deliver projects for public sector clients.


First £10m project.

Work begun on our largest contract to date, working for Central Bedfordshire College to redevelop their Kingsway Campus in Dunstable (pictured).

The scheme was split across two main phases, covering the refurbishment and remodelling of an existing 4 storey building and the design and build construction of a new 3 storey teaching facility with catering, hair and beauty, media, and admin spaces, following the demolition of the existing structure.


Turnover surpasses £60m for the first time.

As the size of our projects increased, Ashe reached another landmark figure in our turnover, thanks to framework projects and continued delivery for our local authority clients such as the construction of Silsoe Lower School (pictured) a brand new primary school to service a new residential neighbourhood in Silsoe, for Central Bedfordshire Council. 


Ashe Roofing established. Ashe Construction turnover surpasses £70m for the first time.

Noticing an opportunity in the market, Ashe Roofing was established within the Ashe Group to deliver new and replacement roofing works for their clients.

Ashe Construction’s turnover again reached a new height, with schemes delivered that year including; Watford Grammar School for Boys, Broxbourne Enterprise Centre, and Hillmorton Primary School in Rugby via the Scape empa II framework.


First £20m+ project

This saw works begin on our largest contract to date, the redevelopment of two out-dated office buildings in Stevenage, to form 202 high-end apartments, named; Park Place Plaza. 


Secured a place on Pagabo medium works framework

Having delivered a large amount of work through frameworks, the group understood the importance of being able to offer various routes to market for our public sector clients.

Ashe were awarded a position on the first ever Pagabo medium works framework covering projects valued between £1m and £10m such as Campion School’s new Science building (pictured).


Ian Robbins appointed MD and Robin Blake Group CEO

With the Ashe Group expanding, Robin Blake took on the position of Group CEO and our former Construction Director, Ian Robbins, was appointed the position of Managing Director. Ian initially joined Ashe as a Finishing Foreman in February 2000, and progressed his way up through our delivery teams. Ian has long championed Ashe’s partnership approach, building relationships and recognising the importance of working as one team with our clients.


Group turnover surpasses £80m for the first time

With Ashe Roofing beginning work on their first ever £1m+ scheme at Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School our turnover once again hit a new record high.

Ashe Construction delivered their first ever Passivhaus primary school at Thornhill Primary School in Houghton Regis (pictured), as well as completing a Net Zero Carbon in Operation project at Bedford College.


Ashe Roofing move to new premises

As Ashe Roofing continue to deliver bigger and more projects their team expands and they outgrow Ashe House the Ashe Roofing team relocated to their new home at Unit 11 Station Approach, following a fantastic refurbishment and fit-out of the building.


Ashe Group celebrates 50 years in business

In June, the entire Ashe Group joined together to celebrate an incredible 50 years of business. The ‘Ashe Bash’ saw employees and their partners celebrate in the summer sun with fantastic food, drink, music, dancing, and a speech from our Chairman, Bob, thanking everyone for their part in helping us reach this impressive milestone.