David Wallis, 1941–2000

David Wallis was Chairman of the BTS when he died at the early age of 59 on Friday 3rd November 2000. David Joined Halcrow in 1961 as a sandwich course trainee. He passed his examinations in 1964 and initially worked on the Victoria Line at Oxford Circus and then on the running tunnels at Seven Sisters. He was responsible for the coordination of the E & M design for the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel and for the design of a twin road tunnel under Bath, which was soon to be cancelled.

In 1974 he became Deputy Resident Engineer for the Channel Tunnel preliminary works, until it was cancelled in 1975. He then worked on the design of the Lewes Cuilfail Tunnel, before becoming Resident Engineer on the tunnel construction.

In the early 1980s he spent two years in Baghdad, as Detailed Design Co-ordinator on the Baghdad Metro. On his return he was appointed Resident Engineer for the Isle of Dogs trunk sewer and later Chief Resident Engineer for the Royal Docks drainage works. In 1986 David began his second spell on the Channel Tunnel where he first became Halcrow's senior representative on the Maitre d'Oeuvre. In 1988 he became Project Manager responsible for the UK tunnelling works for Eurotunnel and in 1990 Specialist Tunnel Advisor. He returned to the Halcrow London office in 1991 and was involved on a number of projects giving technical and contractual advice based upon his long and wide experience in tunnelling. He was responsible for a detailed technical report into the reasons for the collapse at Heathrow. He worked on the successful LCR bid for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and in 1996 he was appointed Tunnel Construction Manager for the London tunnels. He was later appointed Deputy Project Engineer for the London tunnels and Design Manager for Contract 250. He had completed the review of tenders for that contract the day before he died.

David was elected Vice Chairman of the BTS in 1997 and Chairman in 1999. He regarded being Chairman as a great honour and the pinnacle of his career. He put a considerable amount of energy into the Chairmanship and during his stewardship he planned to ensure that his initiatives were completed. These included the tunnel design guide; the 30-year celebration book; the website; the UK data base and the training and education survey. He also set up several sub-committees to review problems and concerns within the industry. David was well respected within the industry and inspired confidence. Colleagues and friends knew him as a bright, versatile, enthusiastic, reliable, hardworking, conscientious and practical tunneller. David had a lively mind and a common-sense, practical approach to all problems. He accepted challenges and was ingenious in finding solutions. Above all he was confident in his convictions and was persuasive in debating his case.

In 2001 the James Clark Medal was awarded posthumously to David for his lifetime achievement in tunnelling and his contribution to the BTS. His children Richard, Katie and Sarah accepted the award on his behalf at the BTS October meeting.

Union Railway, Rail Link Engineering and the contractors on the London Tunnels made plans to place a plaque in David's memory in the London Tunnels. In September 2004, following completion and handover of Contract 250 to the system-wide contractors, the plaque was unveiled by his children at the over-cross passage at the Ripple Lane Ventilation shaft and portal. The unveiling was attended by Alan Dyke, Managing Director Union Railways (North), and colleagues and friends from Union Railway, Rail Link Engineering, the contractors and Halcrow. Rab Brown, Halcrow, paid tribute to David and his life and in particular his many years on the Channel Tunnel and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.