Terry Hulme – 1929 - March 2017

Terry Hulme, a pioneer of urban TBM metro tunnelling in Singapore, died peacefully on Wednesday 15 March 2017, while in hospital in Southbroom, near Port Shepstone, on the Lower South Coast of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Aged 88, Hulme died after being admitted to hospital after suffering a minor stroke.

Terry Hulme 1929 - 2017
Terry Hulme 1929 - 2017

British born and educated, and starting his professional civil engineer career with Transport for London on construction projects for the London Underground, Hulme moved to Singapore in the 1980s to promote and introduce the earliest sections of underground alignment for the city’s now extensive metro system. He was instrumental in the initial studies to lay the groundwork for the implementation and development effort of the a network that now continues to expand and is designed and aligned only underground, building on a hard-earned legacy of underground metro construction.

Hulme mentored scores of young civil engineers in the disciplines of urban soft ground TBM, open face, cross passage tunnelling and open box station excavation for metro development.

Hulme made Singapore his home as well as his professional base and was a founding member and past President of the Singapore Tunnelling and Underground Construction Society (TUCSS). Current TUCCS President, Kulaindran Ariaratnam, said: "Terry would still walk the tunnels with us when he was in his 70s. We had a hard time keeping up with him. He was a very active man. We actually sent him an invitation to the 20th anniversary celebration of the TUCCS in August, but sadly, he is gone."

Hulme with Ow Chun Nam (centre left and right respectively) and other LTA MRT engineers at the face of the North East Line tunnel heading
Hulme with Ow Chun Nam (centre left and right respectively) and other LTA MRT engineers at the face of the North East Line tunnel heading

On retiring, Hulme moved to South Africa and made Southbroom his home.

Former LTA (Land Transport Authority) Deputy Chief Executive T S Low, said Hulme was "much respected and much loved by many in Singapore".

LTA Chief Tunnel Engineer Ow Chun Nam, who was among those mentored by Hulme, said: "He was my guru. I was recruited by him way back in 1983." Many whom Hulme mentored in the early MRT years paid tribute to him on the tribute page of the TUCSS website.

Rajan Krishnan, Chief Executive of KTC Construction Group, wrote: "Terry Hulme was the key person who introduced the engineers who joined the then Mass Rapid Transit Corp in the early and mid-1980s to the world of tunnelling and underground construction. He never failed to continue to provide advice and engineering support over the many years since."

TUCSS established the Hulme Prize in 1999 to honour Terry for his outstanding contribution to TUCSS and tunnelling in Singapore. The annual competition rewards the best of technical papers submitted by young engineers or students below the age of 35 and on any subject related to tunnelling and underground construction.

Hulme with former Transport Minister Raymond Lim (right) at the inaugural Transport Excellence Awards in 2008
Hulme with former Transport Minister Raymond Lim (right) at the inaugural Transport Excellence Awards in 2008

Tammie Loke, a recently retired LTA veteran, described Hulme as "a dear friend and a true gentleman". She said, "when I joined the MRT Corporation back in 1983, as a young officer who knew nothing about rail work, I was privileged to work alongside this exceptional man whom many came to call a friend."

Hulme is survived by his wife, who said she was still coming to terms with her husband's death. The couple had two children. Their daughter lives in Australia. Their son died four years ago.

Hulme was also a friend and supporter of TunnelTalk. TunnelTalk Editor Shani Wallis first met Hulme in the early 1980s when he was in London recruiting new engineers for the Singapore metro and kept in contact through the years since then, always arranging to meet up when in Singapore. TunnelTalk echoes a tribute posted on the TUCSS website that Hulme was much respected and that his outstanding career in Singapore will be remembered by all who knew this English gentleman who went to the East a long time ago.

The following are among tributes to Hulme on the TUCSS website

TS Low, TUCSS Hon. Member

“Terry was very much at home in Singapore. He inspired many with his indefatigable energy over the years and his commitment and dedication to his work. Those who came after him and those who worked with him together on the Singapore Metro project carried on the good work that he instituted and the tunnel engineers and civil works professionals benefited much from his legacy.”

Rajan Krishnan, TUCSS Hon. Member and Past President

"For all the engineers who joined the then Mass Rapid Transit Corporation in the early and mid -1980s, myself included, Terry Hulme was the key person who introduced us to the world of tunnelling and underground construction. To all of us, Terry was a true and dedicated guide and friend. The tremendous growth Singapore has seen in its transport infrastructure over the years is a testimony to the planning and development work Terry contributed over the years. He will always be remembered as a gentleman engineer, whose quiet, kind, and yet firm way has nurtured so many engineers and projects. The best tribute we can offer for all the contribution he has made is to continue the path of excellence he set and to always guide and lend a helping hand to all the younger engineers."

Tony Burchell, TUCSS Past President

"I have known Terry since 1984 when I first went to Singapore. Terry was the Project Manager of the Metro and I soon felt tremendous admiration for him. In his quiet way, he commanded incredible respect. A brilliant but self-effacing engineer. Completely honest, always insisting on doing the right thing even if it brought the wrath of the powers that be. He always made time to discuss and advise on issues. A really iconic figure in civil engineering. He will be missed but his legacy lives after him in all the projects he has delivered and personally for me in all the words of wisdom and the example he set as an engineer that have influenced my own life so very much. A truly great man."

TC Chew, President of Global Business & Operations, Samsung C&T Corporation

"I met Terry in the early 1980s. We came through the same professional roots of having worked and served Transport for London in our earlier careers. He had been my truth mentor and friend over the last 30 years. I was a young apprentice when he was leading the early Singapore MRT construction programme. In later years, when I hd the opportunity to lead the extension of the Singapore MRT construction programme, Terry became my greatest advisor and strongest support. His untiring coaching and sharing have enabled me to succeed. He is always there to push me along when I was in doubt. What a terrific spirited and wonderful man. Rest in peace, my dear friend and teacher. You will never be forgotten"

Nick Shirlaw, TUCSS Ex-Committee Member; Senior Consultants, Golder Associates (HK)

"Terry Hulme was hugely influential in the design and construction of the Singapore MRT system. Often described as the ‘father of Singapore tunnelling’, his knowledge and influence were felt in many aspects of the development of the railway, not just underground construction. He brought a clear, simple and practical approach to all that he was involved in. In addition to Singapore, I also worked with him when was a consultant during the design of several lines of the Taipei MRT and then on the review of the design and construction of a line in Shanghai. His advice was greatly valued. He was always courteous and kind, although often visibly in pain from various physical problems. He encouraged the documentation and publication of technical papers summarising the experience gained during design and construction. TUCSS and the work it does in documenting underground construction in Singapore and providing opportunities for professional development are part of his legacy."

Tammei Loke, Pioneer PR Manager in MRTC

“For those of us who knew Terry, it is not just his distinguished career that we remember, but the kind soul, the clever sense of humour, the unflappable temperament, and most of all, his deep humility that we shall miss the most. Our MRT network bears the work of Terry's hand. As the foremost tunnelling expert of the day, he taught so many young engineers the art of tunnelling. These men, under Terry's tutelage, have become experts in their own right and in turn, lead the work that continues today. I am grateful he entered our lives and made us better for it."

Mr Guy Taylor, Samsung C & T Corporation

"With great sadness, I wish to pass on my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Terry. My years with Terry at LTA in Singapore have left lasting memories and fondness and appreciation for the mentoring and friendship Terry offered me. The world has lost a truly great engineer and very genuine and thoroughly decent person. It will be a lesser place without him."

Paul Dixon, Melbourne Metro Rail Authority

"Terry Hulme, with whom I worked in Singapore on the MTRC from 1985 to 1991, was such a gentlemen as well as a great leader and colleague."

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