House-building legend, Tony Pidgley, dies at 72

News came last Friday of the death at the age of 72 of house-building legend, Tony Pidgley, who founded Berkeley Group in 1976.

For a man who ended up in the Sunday Times Rich List, Pidgley came from very modest beginnings.

He was born to a single mother and was a Barnardo’s boy before being adopted by travellers at the age of four.

He grew up in a disused railway carriage, left school at 15, and back then could hardly read or write; but he had learned to drive and to strip down an engine and his first business was set up as a haulage firm.

Aged 19, Pidgley had a fleet of 40 lorries and sold out to Crest Nicholson who appointed him to their board.

There he met another Crest director, Jim Farrer.

When Pidgley fell out with the Crest chairman, he was sacked and Farrer resigned in sympathy.

The pair founded Berkeley Group and floated their business in 1985. Farrer died in 2014.

Rob Perrins, chief executive of Berkeley, said:

“Tony was a brilliant man who I have been fortunate to work closely with for 20 years.

“He started Berkeley by building one house and his vision grew into a FTSE 100 company.”

“He knew he would never retire so he ensured that his culture was embedded in the company for when this sad day came.

“Berkeley and I owe Tony a huge debt.

“With my team I will ensure this debt is honoured by continuing to position Berkeley as the leading place-maker and ensuring it continues to be a company of which he’d be proud.”

In 2013, Pidgley was awarded a CBE for services to the housing sector and the community.

The most recent estimate of his wealth was £295m and at the time of his death he held shares in Berkeley worth £71m.

Last week, the company announced sales fell by 50 per cent in April and May as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pre-tax profits fell by 35 per cent.

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4 Comments

  1. Kevin Ellis

    This is incredibly sad news as Tony was an absolute visionary and icon in the housebuilding sector – his work ethic was something to behold as well and no surprise he was still working right up until his passing.   I first met Tony back in 2003 and got to know him over the years selling many Berkeley projects.   He was always interested in what was going on and was also incredibly generous with his time when I first set my business up and on the catch-ups we had over recent years or at events and awards.   Thoughts are with his family and the wider Berkeley family as his passing will be felt throughout the business because he was so involved in everything that happened.

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    1. Anthony Hesse

      Well said Kevin. The word legend is bandied about too freely in our sector these days, but TP was one of them. #RIP Tony

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  2. Typhoon

    An immense loss to the industry and his family.

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  3. PeeBee

    Never met Mr Pidgely – but know several who had the pleasure.
     
    Sincere condolences to those who knew and loved the chap. A massive loss.

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