Oral history of British science

Head, Peter (Part 6 of 14)

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  • Subjects

    Civil Engineering

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Head, Peter, 1947- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 6 [31:51] Story about applying for a job at Maunsell: advert in 'The New Civil Engineer' that perfectly matched PH's skills; PH applying to Brian Richmond for an interview at Penge whilst he was visiting Beckenham; PH convinced to join Maunsell to supersede senior engineer Alec Wallace due to illness; advantages of moving back to Beckenham, wife applying for job with Bromley council. [03:47] Remarks on: FFP reaction to PH leaving; existing relationship and tension between Maunsell and FFP after Maunsell work on Yarra Bridge before collapse; PH starting at Maunsell, working with Alec Wallace, who he would replace, who also designed the Adhamiyah Bridge in Baghdad, Iraq, which PH had been asked to supervise construction for; PH research work at Maunsell to move company forward in steel bridge design, lecturing for Constrado on steel construction. [08:00] Remarks on winning contract for Second Severn Crossing: bidding process; Maunsell partnership with Atkins; PH role in planning. [10:28] Remarks on PH research to build a platform for Maunsell to develop steel bridges: standardisation of design details; lecturing and publishing; influence on steel composite bridges in UK; Constrado, British Steel founded organisation to promote use of steel in construction, based in Croydon, PH teaching design of bridges to young engineers. [13:55] Remarks on: importance of developing staff to build a platform for successful bridge building; busy period from 1984 to 1990 working on major crossings, partly due to private financing. [15:30] Remarks on Channel crossing: PH work for Euroroute for Trafalgar House and French consortium on proposal for a bridge and tunnel crossing of the Channel for road and rail. [16:45] Remarks on: working closely with contractors on private finance design and build contracts; Maunsell culture of design and build; Guy Maunsell's roll building Mulberry harbours for D-day landings; PH suitability for working with French contractors integrated approach; contrast of UK and French bridge engineering, poorer status of engineering in UK. [19:45] Comments on Euroroute Channel crossing proposal: not built but right solution; road crossing as well as train; details of combined bridges and tunnel design; use of extensive prefabrication; private financing; PH hard work on submissions; Margaret Thatcher support of Eurotunnel and Francois Mitterrand support of Euroroute leading to close decision; limitations of Eurotunnel, no freight transport initially leading to problems in business model when freight was included; likelihood of Euroroute becoming a monopoly and destroying cross Channel ferry business; [25:10] details of design's combination of bridges, islands and tunnel, and advantages over bridge or tunnel alternatives; possibility for off-shore tax havens on islands at bridge, tunnel meeting point; spiral ramps changing cars road side. [27:23] Remarks on working with the French: excellent quality of French engineers; different attitude to business in France; value of combining English and French approaches, with reference to Concorde; French flair and favour of innovative ideas, British strength in working out how to deliver schemes; practical details of working with French, largely working in UK, meeting at GTM; concurrent work on Severn and Dartford Crossings.

  • Description

    Interview with civil engineer, Peter Head

  • Related transcripts

    Peter Head interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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