The British Tunnelling Society (BTS), an associate society of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the member nation representative of the UK to the General Assembly of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA), is one of the most active groups of professional tunnelling engineers in the world and has a full calendar of events and activities.
This year the Society held its two day tunnelling conference in October, conducted its week-long short course in tunnel design and construction in June and its two day health and safety short course in November and held its regular evening lecture meetings at the ICE in Westminster, London, on the third Thursday of each month from September to June.
One of the most enjoyable fixtures in the Society’s diary is the annual luncheon in celebration of the recipients of the James Clark Medal Award which was held this year at the Institution of Civil Engineers in November.
The James Clark Medal Award was introduced in 1981 in memory of the career in tunnelling of James Clark who worked for Charles Brand & Son and was instrumental in establishing the BTS in the early 1970s. The Medal is presented each year to a leading UK engineer or professional to recognise a major contribution to the tunnelling industry, a contemporary achievement or innovation within the industry, or responsibility for a large underground construction project.
At the 2016 luncheon, Mark Leggett, current Chair of the BTS, welcomed the guests and toasted the recipients who were unable to be in London on the day to join the gathering. These included Peter Jaques (2014) and Donald Lamont MBE (2009), and Doug Allenby who won the award in 2015 and was presented with the Medal this year (2016).
As Chief Tunnelling Engineer of UK contractor Bam Nuttall, Allenby has worked for Nuttall for more than 41 years. From a career start in rock tunnelling on the Foyers hydro-electric scheme, he moved on to 100in water and sewer tunnelling projects in London, learning the importance of innovation in boosting production rates, and was engineer on the New Cross project and its application of the first slurry TBM to be built and used in the world, an invention for which inventor John Bartlett won his James Clark Medal.
Allenby continued his site career on the Channel Tunnel and then to the Docklands Light Rail extension to Bank, where his inspirational thinking allowed the docking and upsizing of the running tunnel machine to construct the platform tunnel and undocking at the far end to continue building the running tunnel. He then promoted innovations such as the Dorney Bridge box jack in combination with ground freezing under the main line railway and the largest box jack in the world for the Big Dig highway project in Boston USA. Most recently he contributed to the Nuttall contracts on the London Crossrail project and the Glendoe hydro scheme in Scotland.
The Award will be presented next and posthumously to Madeline Clark, the widow of James Clark, who initiated the medal of recognition in her husband’s name and who died this year (2016) on 29 May. Madeline was 100 years old. The medal will be accepted on her behalf by the couple’s daughter at the next annual general meeting of the Society in May 2016.
Visit the BTS website to see a full list of 36 recipients of the accolade since it was introduced in 1981.