Making movies, designing golf courses... surveyors crop up in surprising places

'We use our skills in avenues such as the film industry'

Simon Barnes (above), 60, is managing director of Plowman Craven



I try to look at chartered surveying and geometric surveying in a slightly different way. We use our measuring skills in different ways, in interesting avenues such as the movie industry and animation, forensics and 3D models. We were one of the first surveying companies to adopt the technology and it's really only come about in the last three or four years.

One of the issues for a scene of a crime is to gather enough accurate reliable data, with integrity, quickly. This enables the police to leave the scene knowing they have got all they need. What we do is like an instant model. For situations such as the Diana enquiry we can take our equipment there and take measurements very quickly.

We got our work in the film industry though our forensic work. One of our clients saw us using the technology and said this could be interesting to use in films.

There will always be a place for measuring bridges and roads and fields but for the general public it doesn't hold the same interest as James Bond.

It's all measurements. It doesn't matter to us if we are measuring the head of Daniel Craig (pictured above), the peaks and troughs in his face or a field. It's all a matter of scale.

It's very difficult to budget forensic work for obvious reasons but I think it will grow. What we are doing is migrating the technology, skills, 3D animation and "wow" factor that we are doing in the film work into the roads and railways. Projects get held up from misunderstandings with drawings, so if it can all be seen together in a 3D picture that can help prevent any delays.

'In surveying terms, we survey the chattels of the land'

James Lewis, 36, is a director at Bamfords auctioneers and valuers



We started Bamfords in 2002 and now we are in the top 15 in the country. In surveying terms we survey the chattels of the land. We probably process about 1,500 lots a week.

I have appeared on the BBC TV shows Flog it! and Cash in the Attic. At first I said, no sorry, I can't think of anything worse than appearing on TV, no thank you. About two weeks later I was made redundant. I wrote back and said, actually do you mind if I just come for a chat? They had a screening day, I was terrified. They picked three of us out 100. It's about making the contributor relax. They have got to be seen to be enjoying it other wise there is no point. It's also not being too stuffy about things.

The most special experience I have had was going on the radio in Derby and talking about a rare 1936 Rupert Bear annual that had made 3,500. An elderly lady rang in live on air to say she had one and was it worth anything. She had taken it out of its box in 1936, looked at it, put it back and never looked at it since. I told her it would certainly make 5,000. She started to cry and said I could have it!

She came to the showroom and decided to sell it. I was the auctioneer and she sat in the second row. Half way though the bidding she started to cry.

Eventually it went for 7,200. The guy who bought it, in the middle of the auction he came over to the lady after seeing her reaction, and gave her a big hug. There was a round of applause. That for me is the best. There are lots of things that have made 100,000 but that's a special one.

'It's a fantastic landmark and everyone can identify it'

Richard Baldwin, 49, is a managing partner at Davis Langdon, Europe



I was the project partner on the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall at the South Bank Centre in London. It finished last summer.

The Queen came along to reopen it and sat in the very same box as she did when it was opened all those years ago with her parents.

It was a great project and great to be involved in something your parents used to go along to. It's a fantastic landmark and everybody can identify it. I was in Sydney last week at our international board meeting, and we were all marvelling at the Sydney Opera House. On the tour they mentioned the Royal Festival Hall (pictured above). It's quite weird, suddenly you are all those miles away and they are talking about a project that you worked on.

I am currently working on the Pinnacle. It will be the tallest building in the City. I can say I am working on the tallest building in the City but the tallest building in London, which our firm is also working on, is the Shard.

We are currently doing the demolition work. The Pinnacle's nick name is the helter skelter, the reason being is that it has a twisting form to it. It's going to be an amazing icon. The plan is called the central London cluster. A kind of cluster of tall buildings and the pinnacle is going to be the one at the centre.

We are working on the proposed new extension to the Tate Modern. Tate 2. We are right in the early feasibility stages of planning. Likewise with the British Museum North West development project. It's a brand new gallery and lab space for the Museum. There are big things on the horizon.

'I get to play the first round on the courses I work on'

Richard Wax, 64, is a chartered surveyor specialising in the golf industry



I have been specialising in golf for about 25 years. I have visited over 1,000 potential sites, 30 of which I have built. I would say I have been from the Caribbean to India and then from Finland to South Africa. I am at the top end of the industry. It's not just a matter of taking on any old golf course. We are looking at building golf courses which will be around for the next 100 years.

I don't spend a massive amount of time on site but I go back frequently, about once a month. I would say projects are a five-year involvement. At present I am focused on The Legend, a new course on a 50,000-acre safari resort north of Johannesburg, and Caesarea, a complete rebuild of the only 18-hole course in Israel. Both are due to open in spring 2009.

I am advising on every aspect of the golf development, from the real estate to the hotel and clubhouse. It's way beyond the golf. It really is a complete consulting.

I get to play the first round on the course that I work on. I hold a number of course records. That is a great pleasure. I had a wonderful year at The Grove, in North London as the golf course was playable a year before the hotel was open. Three years after it opened we had Tiger Woods (pictured left) winning the American Express World Golf Championships. That was amazing and the course was so young to host a world event. That was a special year.

Every year I go to the professional golf association in Florida and test the latest equipment and see al the latest GPS gadgets. It's way beyond surveying.

In surveying you are your own referee, the same way as in golf you are your own referee.

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