Obituaries

This section includes brief obituaries for some of the giants of tunnelling who have sadly passed away in the last few years. The list is not comprehensive, and if you would like to include a tribute, please contact bts@ice.org.uk

George Taylor, 1943–2018

The tunnelling community gathered with George’s partner Sue, his children Caroline and Graham and his wider family and friends late June 2018 to mark the passing of George William Frederick Taylor – Fitter and Friend. A service was held at Charing Crematorium followed by refreshments at Lympne Castle, Kent, where George had celebrated his 70th birthday some years before.

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Chris Parker, 1940–2016

The following Tribute to Chris Parker was given by Mike McConnell at the BTS on 14th December 2017, ahead of the Chris Parker Memorial Lecture by Chris’s son Tommy.

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Tim Brick, 1945–2016

Born in 1945 in Cork, Tim Brick graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from University College, Cork and, with opportunities in Africa opening up, he and his wife Maeve, whom he met at university, moved to Zambia where he worked for two years for an Irish firm of consultants on the design and supervision of municipal works schemes and impounding reservoirs.

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Hugh O'Donnell, 1945–2015

Hugh O’Donnell's extensive tunnelling career began on the Loch Awe hydroelectric scheme in 1966. In addition to projects in the UK, he worked in Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Egypt and Denmark, earning an industry-wide reputation as a reliable and highly respected pit boss and foreman.

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Andy Miller, 1945–2015

Embarking on his tunnelling career in the late 60s, Andy worked for Waddingtons on the Victoria Line extension from Stockwell to Brixton. He then joined C V Buchan in 1970, working for the next few years on numerous tunnelling projects around the country – Coventry, Wolverhampton and Bournemouth amongst them. At the time, working in compressed air was the norm as slurry shields and EPBMs hadn't yet been invented.

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John King, OBE, 1926–2015

John King’s distinguished career in tunnelling spanned progression from traditional hand mining to mechanised tunnelling methods which he was instrumental in developing and introducing in the UK. A contemporary of Sir Harold Harding and Sir Alan Muir Wood, he was among the leading British engineers who formed the BTS in the 1970s, serving as Chairman in 1976-77 and receiving the James Clarke medal in 1991. In 1996 he was awarded an OBE for services on the Channel Tunnel project.

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David Lawrence, 1948–2015

BSc (Eng) (Hons) (University of Cape Town, 1970); Chartered Engineer; Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Ireland; Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering; Fellow of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy; Registered Professional Engineer. Pr.Eng. (ECSA). There are few who manage to grab an equal best in life from their work as well as their private lives and one of them was David Lawrence.

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Bryan 'Spud' Taylor, 1936–2014

Bryan Taylor, affectionately known as 'Spud' was a specialist in the assembly of tunnelling shields and TBMs. Together with his cousin, Derek Morse, he formed the company Arrowshield, winning contracts in Europe, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria and the UK. He assembled all of the TBMS on the UK side of the Channel Tunnel and more recently worked on CTRL and the Jubilee Line Extension.

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Jim Buchanan, 1928–2014

Jim Buchanan’s tunnelling career took him from a hand excavated tunnel following graduation, through various projects with A & M Carmichael, then Costain to Sir Robert McAlpine for whom he worked on Dungeness Power Station cooling tunnels. ‘Retiring’ in 1987, he continued to work part time, serving on many committees relating to hyperbaric interventions and tunnelling under compressed air. He served on the BTS committee, was vice Chairman in 1977-78, and received the James Clark Medal in 2003.

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Arthur Moss, 1945–2013

Arthur Moss, known to everybody as Amos, was co-owner and Director of Delta Civil Engineering and an innovator in improving on techniques and working practises in small bore hand mining, shield tunnelling, pipejacking and microtunnelling. He was a long-standing member of the BTS, a founder member of the Pipe Jacking Association, and for many years a member of the UK delegation on the CEN committee. Throughout his working life he made constant and significant contributions to all three.

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John Keys, 1962–2013

A graduate of the Camborne School of Mines, John Keys started his mining career with the UK National Coal Board in 1982 before moving into tunnelling and working on a succession of key projects in the UK and abroad including the Channel Tunnel, the Storebaelt Tunnel and the Jubilee Line Extension to name but a few. In 2000 John became a founder member and later a Director of London Bridge Associates with whom he remained until his untimely death from a heart attack at the age of just 51.

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Tommy Talbott, 1932–2011

Managing Director of Miller Civil Engineering (now Morgan Sindall), former Vice Chair of the BTS and James Clark Medal winner, Tommy Talbott was a leading construction director in the tunnelling industry. Tommy joined Sir James Miller and Partners as a site engineer in the 1950s and rose through the ranks as the company evolved over the next 40 years, winning contracts in most of the major UK utility tunnelling projects and other large scale projects including several at Heathrow airport and CTRL.

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Sir Alan Muir Wood, 1921–2009

During his long and distinguished civil engineering career, which in 1982 earned him a knighthood, Sir Alan worked on numerous major tunnelling projects in South Africa, Taiwan, Australia and the UK. He also served as President of the ICE and Chairman of the BTS and was the first President of the ITA as well as being instrumental in its founding in 1974.

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Dr Dennis Walder, 1916–2008

Dr Dennis Walder, MB, BCh, MD, ChM, FRCS, Ed, MFOM was awarded the James Clark Medal in 2002. A surgeon and not a tunneller, it was said of him at the time, ‘The younger members of the Society will not appreciate how such a man could possibly contribute to our industry to the level that he is honored, but it is not for his skills as a surgeon that we owe him so much but for his continued quest to improve the lot of the compressed air worker’.

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Bob Reed, 1932–2006

Bob spent all his working life in the tunnelling industry. His knowledge and experience led to a role as part time Tunnel Consultant to the Ministry of Defence and with his great knowledge of compressed air working he was a member of the Medical Research Council Decompression Sickness Panel.

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Dick Watts, d.2005

Richard Watts, or Dick as he was known, graduated from Birmingham University with a B.Sc. in 1949 and joined Sir William Halcrow & Partners where he worked for five years on projects for the North of Scotland Hydro Electricity Board, the Woodhead Tunnel and the Claerwen dam.

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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.

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