A new West Midlands Metro tram has been named after Roy and Don Richardson.
The twin entrepreneurs and philanthropists established a West Midlands business that now invests in real estate and growth capital around the world.
Their development activity, which famously included the Merry Hill Shopping Centre and Star City in Birmingham, has created tens of thousands of jobs in the region over many years.
As well as being business giants, Roy, who is 92, and Don, who passed away in 2007, are also being recognised for their work through the Richardson Brothers Foundation which has supported the region’s less fortunate through dozens of community groups and charities.
They were nominated for the honour by Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, who welcomed Roy and his family as guests of honour for the name unveiling in Centenary Square today (2 March).
The brothers founded their business in Oldbury 75 years ago during the 1940s and today the Richardson business is known the world over as being a leader in real estate and growth capital investment, focusing on opportunities in North America and Australasia as well as in the UK and Western Europe.
They made their names taking former industrial sites few other developers would touch due to the poor economic conditions of the time and transforming them – such as the 300-acre former Round Oak Steelworks site at Brierley Hill on which, during the early-1980s, they built the Merry Hill Shopping Centre.
The Richardson Foundation was set up to help those less fortunate and has backed a wide range of good causes across the Midlands including foodbanks supporting the less fortunate, disabled people, young people and children, and ex-service personnel.
Roy Richardson said: “On behalf of my family, and particularly my late brother, I am delighted and honoured to have a West Midlands tram named after us.
“While the family business now invests all over the world, we remain extremely proud of our Black Country roots. Whenever we are doing business overseas we always aim to talk up the West Midlands, and are pleased that our activities have supported thousands of jobs for people in the region over the years as well as boosting the Treasury’s coffers – we understand that Merry hill alone has generated over £1 billion in business rates since it opened.
“When we installed the monorail at Merry Hill there was a plan to link that up with the Midland Metro network, as it was known at the time, so we do have some history with transportation in the area.
“It is great to see trams once again running across the region, linking up communities and helping people to move around quickly and safely with a clean form of transport. I hope people enjoy riding on the Roy & Don Richardson tram for many years to come!”
They are the latest prominent individuals to have one of the blue West Midlands Metro trams named after them following in the footsteps of comedian Jasper Carrott, rock star Ozzy Osborne and footballer Cyrille Regis.
Midland Metro Ltd, which operates the West Midlands Metro, is owned by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The Mayor, who is also WMCA chair, said: “When I was asked to think about who should be nominated for this wonderfully West Midlands honour, Don and Roy Richardson stood out straight away. The business that Roy and his late twin brother Don built changed our region forever. The fact that the firm they founded remains in the family and is still based here is testament to the strength of their local commitment. It was only right to recognise their outstanding contribution.”
To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, another tram will be named in honour of the late Cllr Theresa Stewart, who was the first, and so far, only female leader of Birmingham City Council. An earlier model West Midlands Metro tram which had been named after her was retired from service in 2013.