External Works Exhibition

There aren't that many trade shows focussed on the landscaping industry, and many of those that do are more concerned with soft-landscaping rather than with paving and other hardscapes. The two that do have a direct link to our trade are Civils, run as an adjunct to the Interbuild Extravaganza, and External Works, which is to take place next month, April 19-21st, at the NEC in Birmingham.

Because the market for hard-landscaping is fairly narrow and limited, External Works (known as EWx) and Civils are run in alternating years. 2003 was EXw2004, last years was Civils 2004 , so now it must be EWx2005. The show was in danger of disappearing up its own backside back in 2001 with the poorly attended and poorly supported 2001 London Docklands event, but a change of venue and a revamp of the marketing led to a wonderfully successful show at the NEC in 2003, and with the resurgence of interest in hardscapes and the awful term dreamed up by some meejah-twonk in a design office, "The External Envelope", along with a much better level of support from some of the bigger companies in the industry, the 2005 bash promises to be the best yet.

The show is a genuine trade event, with ticketed entry limited to those with a genuine and demonstrable interest in the trade, so expect to see lots of architects, designers, specifiers, and planners, along with plenty bods from local authority Highways departments, the Highways Agency crowd, a generous sprinkling of contractors large and small and more than a handful of students let out of the lecture theatre for the day. At the 2003 event, I was well and truly impressed with the quality of the attendees and the overwhelming positive response to the whole show, so I look forward to seeing how it goes this time.


The key to a successful show is not just determined by who visits, but by who exhibits, and the roll-call for this show is pretty impressive, with almost 120 firms signed up at the time of writing, including some of the biggest names in the hard-landscaping and paving trades, and several supporters of the Pavingexpert website, including SureSet, Ronacrete and Formpave. I'm a little disappointed that the biggest of the big manufacturers are missing, but maybe they're all biding their time, waiting to see if 2003 was a one-off success, or perhaps they're confident that the army of sales bods they have out of the road are doing a good enough job in getting their products specified, but it's a safe bet that they'll have their lads and alsses skulking around to see who's got what and how much and where.

The Square

A few innovations this time: Lovejoy Landscape Design have designed and will be managing a central feature referred to as "The Square" which is intended to provide a "live environment" for featured products. Is there such a thing as a 'dead environment'? There'll also be two Seminar Theatres, with learning sessions taking place during all three days, including presentations from Interpave , SAPCA , CED , and the Landscape Institute . The final day will also feature "Career Development" opportunities, aimed at providing info for students (and existing industry professionals) looking to find a way into, or a new start in, the industry.

As in 2003, EWx is co-located with Traffex and Parkex (don't you just love these witty names!) Traffex is the country's largest exhibition dedicated to the design, management and maintenance of traffic and highway infrastructure, while Parkex is....can you guess... Europe's largest exposition of parking technology, products and services. There's free and east crossover between the three events, so those visiting EWx can flesh out what is sure to be a very busy day or two with a wander over to see what's going on with the Traffic and Parking types.

You can obtain you FREE entrance tickets by logging in to the EWx website and filling in the online form. The website gives lots more info on what's taking place, as well as having a regularly updated list of exhibitors and a schedule for the seminars. There's also links to the Traffex and Parkex info, should you be that way inclined.

There should be a review of the show on this website sometime around Tuesday April 12th, Guinness permitting.