– by Andrew Clark of Clark Weightman
As we step into 2024, The Commercial Property Network (CPN) is hitting a pretty big milestone – it’s our 60th birthday. That’s six decades since the network first started, back when it was known as PAI. We caught up with Andrew Clark from Clark Weightman, who’s been a part of this journey, to chat about how it all began and where we are today.
“I first became involved in the early 1980s when my old firm Dickinson Davy and Markham became members for North Lincolnshire. At the time Larards were the members for Hull, or as it was in those days, North Humberside and North Lincolnshire being South Humberside.
As I recall PAI (as it was called in those days) was set up in 1963 by, among others, John Bradstreet who was a partner at Grimley & Son in Birmingham, Allsops and probably other firms such as Lalonde Bros. and Parham from Bristol, and other leading regional firms of the day. Other member firms at the time I became involved included Lalonde Bros & Parham from Bristol, Cooke & Arkwright from Cardiff, Sanderson Townend & Gilbert from Newcastle, Percy Howes in Norwich and Dunlop Heywood from Manchester. Apart from Allsops most of these original firms were subsumed by larger corporate firms.
The original thought was with the coming of the Common Market there would be opportunities in Europe hence the ‘International’.
By the mid-1980s we had a full time Chief Executive, Stephen Holmes and offices in Sicilian Avenue off Southampton Row, Bloomsbury. This was a very useful facility as it included a meeting room which, if one had meetings in London, you could use it.
We took a full part in the group and frequently received joint agency instructions from the larger firms in London and the regions. The investment panel was operating, there were regional two day visits and the cocktail party at the RAC in Pall Mall would attract 700 guests. In fact it became so large that we had to relocate it to The Inn on The Park on Hyde Park Corner in the mid to late 1980’s .
I joined the Board in the late 1980s and quarterly or bi-monthly meetings were held at the offices of Allsop & Co in Soho Square.
It was my luck that I should become President in 1990 just after all of the major firms had left having been bought up in the late 1980s by the banks & building societies.
We had gone down from 30+ members to less than 15 and we had to take the decision whether to carry on or pack up. Fortunately, and I can take some credit for this, we agreed to carry on and the resulting consequences are now history with the thriving organisation that we have today.
The CPN for a small regional firm such as ours has always been a brilliant organisation. We have always taken a full part and as a result generated income and used it to attract agency and investment instructions. Likewise, being able to talk to people in the various member firms when carrying out valuation or rent review work in their area to get their advice was invaluable.”
Many thanks to Andrew for sharing his thoughts and memories, it was fascinating to read. If you have some memories from the ‘old days’ of the PAI please do share, we would love to heard them. Drop an email to email@example.com