Sandberg was established as a family practice in 1860 when Christer Peter Sandberg came to the UK from Sweden. As a consulting and inspecting engineer for the Swedish State Railways, Christer Peter had extensive metallurgical knowledge and experience. He established a consultancy in London for permanent-way and tramway materials, gaining a reputation for excellence within his field in the UK and overseas.
The early years of his practice coincided with the introduction of the Bessemer process for steel and he was instrumental in its development for rail manufacture. Later he became involved with the development of variable transmission drives and fluid flywheels.
In due course, his sons, Peter, Alec and Nils joined the consultancy (then Messrs Sandberg). They too travelled widely, expanding the practice into the mechanical aspects of railway engineering and further promoting the Sandberg name in the USA, China, Thailand, France, Belgium and Russia. From the late 1800’s, the practice was employed as Consulting Engineers to both the Chinese and Thai Railways for many decades.
Perhaps one of the most spectacular of the Sandberg enterprises was Peter Sandberg’s involvement in salvaging £1million of gold bullion and coinage from the P&O liner SS Egypt in 1935. At that time, this was the deepest successful salvage operation ever undertaken.
Other innovations of the early 1900s were the development of steel analysis and heat treatment processes including the Sorbitic treatment for rails and steel tyres. The most successful was the Sandberg special controlled cooling process for rails, which became part of the mandatory specifications for rails in the USA. Before its introduction, some 11,000 rails were being replaced each year, whereas only a handful failed during subsequent years.
In 1950 Alec Sandberg, son of Alec and grandson of the founder, joined the practice, becoming Senior Partner five years later. He realised that the railway consultancy had limited diversity and modernised the practice, becoming a full materials consultancy, inspection and testing organisation which serviced the civil engineering and building industries. Throughout the major developments of the UK’s highways, the firm provided independent materials testing services, including site laboratories, on 50% of all contracts.
Alec’s son, Neil Sandberg, joined the practice in 1992, becoming Managing Partner in 2000. Neil is enjoying steering the practice through further transitions, including incorporating specialist firms into the practice, so that it remains at the forefront of materials consultancy.
We very much remain a family business in our approach to being large enough to offer a range of services but small enough to know all who work here. Our people are the key to our success. We pride ourselves on our quality of service and the expertise gained from our 160 years of experience, whilst at the same time being at the forefront of the development of new skills and the use of hi-tech equipment.