Civils’ magazine gives up weekly publication

After more than 40 years, one of Britain’s best-known construction magazines is stopping weekly publication and becoming a monthly.

New Civil Engineer was launched in 1972 after founder editor Sydney Lenssen defected from Construction News and approached the Institution of Civil Engineers with a publishing proposal. The resulting weekly magazine became a cash-cow and the foundation stone of ICE’s commercial operation, Thomas Telford. The NCE, as it soon became known, was the prime place for civil engineering recruitment advertising and even engineers not looking for a job generally found the back half of the magazine – the job adverts – to be the most important section, to check they were earning the going rate.

In its pomp NCE had up to two dozen journalists on its editorial floor, pumping out must-read editorial content for its 60,000+ weekly recipients.

Its profits funded a multi-million refurbishment of ICE’s Westminster headquarters at One Great George Street in the early 1990s but the project was so costly that the ICE decided (with heavy heart, staff were assured at the time) to cash in on its magazine and sell the publishing rights to Emap, a publisher better known at the time for Motorcycle News and Smash Hits. Around the same time, Emap also acquired Construction News and Architects’ Journal to give it three of the four biggest weekly publications in UK construction.

But the advent of the internet brought new challenges to trade magazine publishers. For NCE, it meant above all the loss of significant recruitment advertising revenue. The weekly editions became thinner and thinner until finally the publishers took the decision – announced on the magazine’s website yesterday – to cease weekly publication.

As one regular reader of the past 30 years told us: “I guess it was hardly worth posting the weekly out as it’s so thin…”