A history of portable building innovation

A history of portable building innovation

Donald Shepherd launched Portakabin in 1961 when he developed his first portable building model, the PK16. Since then, the history of Portakabin has been characterised by innovation, inspiration and integrity. Today, the company is acknowledged as the market leader in the design and manufacture of portable and modular buildings, employing more than 1,600 colleagues and operating in seven countries across Europe.


The timeline below highlights some of the steps on the company’s journey from that first building to the diverse Portakabin of today.


1961 – Portakabin registered as a trademark and launches its original site accommodation building.
1965 – Portaloo launched, specialising in high-quality toilet and shower facilities.
1971 – Portakabin begins trading in the Netherlands.
1975 – Portakabin established in France.
1978 – Portakabin presented with Queen's Award for Export Achievement.
1980 – Design and Build launched, designing, manufacturing and fitting-out of high-quality buildings for prestigious projects in the
           private, healthcare and education sectors.

1980 – Portakabin is awarded a BBA certificate for its Instant Building
           Module – the first to be awarded for a building module system.

1985 – Portakabin established in Belgium.
1992 – Portakabin presented with a Queen's Award for Technological Achievement.
1995 – Portakabin Events launched, specialising in high-quality event hire solutions.
1998 – Lilliput nursery from Portakabin is the first and only modular building to be awarded Millennium Products status
           by the Design Council.

2000 – Portakabin launches Titan, the largest single modular building available in Europe.
2000 – Portakabin expands its 'one-stop-shop' service to include air-conditioning and furniture hire.
2000 – Portakabin purchases Portakabin (Refurbished), specialising in the supply of high-quality pre-owned modular buildings.
2002 – Portakabin launches Ultima, the best performing office building for air leakage, as tested by the BRE.
2004 – Portakabin launches its unique Customer Charter, making it the first and only modular manufacturer to have such
           a customer service commitment.

2004 – Portakabin launches 5-year product and 20-year structural warranties on all new products, making it the first and
           only modular manufacturer to offer comprehensive warranty cover.

2005 – Portakabin launches Titan Building System, a fast, cost-effective way to create to high-quality space.
2005 – Portakabin launches Portaloo Junior, a toilet facility specially designed for Key-Stage 1 & 2 children.
2005 – Luxe showers launched, providing top of the range facilities for extra special guests.
2005 – Portakabin (Refurbished) launches Construction Space, specialising in the purchase and re-sale of second-hand modular and
           portable buildings for the construction industry.

2005 – One-stop-shop solutions extended to include Protecta and Total Solutions.
2006 – Portakabin launches eye-catching new Ultima Vision and Portakabin Solus buildings.

2006 – Portakabin purchases Allspace Limited, Ireland’s largest supplier of modular and relocatable building 
           systems for sale and hire.

2006 – Portakabin Datakom launched, providing data cabling and networking solutions. 
2006 – Design and Build introduces the Alpha demonstration building at the York manufacturing centre, enabling clients to see
           how a variety of options such as shaped modules, claddings and window types can be put into practice.

2007 – Portakabin launches innovative new versions of the Titan building – the glazed Titan and Titan Solar.
2008 – Portakabin launches a range of biometric site access management solutions.
2008 – Portakabin is awarded Environmental Management System accreditation ISO 14001:2004.
2009 – The Portakabin Ultima, Titan and Solus buildings gain European Technical Approval (ETA) and are granted the
           right to bear the CE mark.

2010 – Portakabin launches the Solus Energy-Saver building, packed with the latest energy-saving design features.
2010 – Portakabin reveals a new decant school solution incorporating generously sized double classrooms.
2010 – Portakabin achieves a Dun and Bradstreet top credit score rating of 1, putting it in the top 15% of UK

2011 – Portakabin celebrates 50 years of innovation. 
2011 – Portakabin opens its first assembly plant in France, bringing a more flexible and responsive service to 
           Continental Europe.

2012 – Portakabin and Design and Build launch the advanced new Ultima Building System, providing more design and aesthetic
           flexibility than any other modular building system.

2012 – Portakabin launches A-rated Energy-Saver building range, engineered to reduce energy usage by more than

2012 – Portakabin launches WardSpace, a new range of standardised hospital buildings to help healthcare providers
           rapidly expand their facilities.

2013 -  Portakabin extends its exterior options available for hire through the introduction of street furniture, outdoor
           shelters and vinyl wraps
2013 - Portakabin acquires Oecon Mobilraum GmbH in Germany and its subsidiary companies
2017 - All our businesses unite under the brand Portakabin