One of the highest profile and most widely respected figures in the British property industry has died suddenly. He was 72.
Tony Pidgley, who started Berkeley Homes 46 years ago and was still working full time as executive chairman of the company, died on Friday.
If ever there was a rags to riches story in the property world, his was it.
He was born to a single mother in Surrey, was taken in at a local Barnado’s refuge and was then adopted by travellers at the age of four.
Reputedly growing up in a disused railway carriage he left school at 15 with few academic skills but a grasp of driving and engines, leading him to set up a haulage firm which he went on to sell to Crest Homes.
In 1976 he built his first home - a single property - with his Berkeley Homes brand quickly expanding and from the 1980s to today becoming synonymous with London high-end apartments, often in prime Thameside sites.
Floating the company on the London Stock Exchange in 1985 made Pidgley one of the wealthiest yet most hardworking figures in the property business. The most recent estimate of his wealth in the Sunday Times Rich List came in at £295m; he still held Berkeley shares worth £71m at the time of his death.
In 2013 Pidgley was one of the founders of the Construction Leadership Council and was awarded a CBE for services to the housing industry and the community.
The company's chief executive, Rob Perrins, said over the weekend: “Tony was a brilliant man who I have been fortunate to work closely with for 20 years. He started Berkeley by building one house and his vision grew into a FTSE 100 company. He knew he would never retire so he ensured that his culture was embedded in the company for when this sad day came.”