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.

Bob (Robert Joseph) was born in India and attended the Bishop Cotton School at Simla. The family returned to the UK when Bob was 15 and he completed his education at Taunton School, Somerset.

Bob Joined Kinnear Moodie & Co Ltd. as an apprentice engineer in 1949 and was employed on various tunnelling projects for the Metropolitan Water Board, the Post Office and on a number of sewer tunnels.


In 1957 Bob started his National Service and was with the Royal Engineers in North Malaya.

When he returned to Kinnear Moodie in 1959 he was appointed Sub Agent on their LUL Contract for one of the two Experimental Lengths for the planned Victoria Line, at Finsbury Park, using a TBM with a new expanded concrete lining. He then became Agent on a number of Post Office cable tunnels.

In 1963 Bob was appointed Agent for the construction of Oxford Circus Station on the Victoria Line, the largest, most difficult, challenging and complicated contract on the project.Between 1969 and 1972 Bob became Contracts Manager for the Sherbourne Valley Foul Water Sewer Contract in Coventry and supervised sewer contracts in Brighton, Portsmouth, Essex, the Medway and in Belfast.

In 1972 Bob joined Lilley Construction (Midlands) as their Contracts Manager and was appointed Director in 1974. He was responsible for Post Office tunnels in Birmingham and Nottingham and main drainage tunnels in Warwick, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Birmingham. Bob moved to Hong Kong in 1976, and was appointed Project Manager for the tunnelling works for the Gammon Kier Lilley JV for their MTRC contract which included 2.6km of 5m internal diameter running tunnels, with compressed air up to 3 bar, and three large oval shaped crossover tunnels, up to 11m across.

When Bob returned to the UK in 1980 he was appointed Lilley's Director for procurement of work overseas and supervised a number of international tenders for projects in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka, and later in Lisbon and Cairo. In 1982 he was appointed Fairclough/Lilley JV Project Director for Contract 1 of the Sheffield Don Valley project. After the successful £90m tender for Contract 4 of the Greater Cairo Wastewater Project he moved to Cairo in 1984 as Project Director for the construction of 5km of 5m and 6m internal diameter sewer tunnels using three Bentonite Slurry Machines, with associated shafts and ancillary tunnels, many in compressed air. The project achieved a tunnelling world record. Later in 1994 Bob was awarded the Institution of Civil Engineers Crampton Prize for his paper on the Cairo project. This Prize is awarded for a paper on 'The Construction,Ventilation and Working of a Major Tunnelling Project'. When Bob returned to the UK in 1989 he became Lilley's Marketing Director for Special Projects, before being appointed Resident Project Director on Stage 2 of the MEPAS Project in Liverpool.

In 1992 Bob joined Costain Building Products as General Manager of Charcon Tunnels, and two years later was appointed Business Development Manager of Costain BP. Bob retired in 1995. He and his great friend Rupert McBean (his predecessor at Charcon Tunnels), together with their wives, visited their old school at Simla in India and climbed to the roof of the school to check that their initials were still carved into the roof timbe. They were!

Bob Reed died on the 27th September 2006 at the age of 74.