Oral history of British science
Head, Peter (Part 8 of 14)
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Head, Peter, 1947- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 8 [49:02] Remarks on: taking over design and build contract for Kapchun road and rail bridge to Hong Kong airport; tender design for private finance Northumberland Straits crossing between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in Canada with Bechtel, leading PH work in Toronto; managing of projects in different time zones between Canada and Hong Kong and London. [03:55] Remarks on PH becoming managing director of Maunsell's civil engineering business: reasons for PH assuming post; duties of Maunsell MD, delivering performance to target, management meetings, organisational structures, share holder issues. [08:19] Remarks on Maunsell cross partnership arrangements: growing importance of business in Hong Kong in late 1990s, causing problems in running of company due to cross ownership arrangement; background of Maunsell's cross partnership arrangements across the world to Australia and Hong Kong; need to reorganise business due to high performance in Hong Kong. [12:20] Story about how PH became chief executive of Maunsell in 1997 after shareholder coup in Croydon. [14:15] Remarks on: negotiations with AECOM over merger; profits from merger, paying off imbalances between within Maunsell's cross partnerships; difficult period between 1997 and takeover. [16:20] Description of Hong Kong airport bridge: move of airport to Lam Chau Island, with transport links into Hong Kong needing bridge projects between islands. [18:15] Description of Northumberland Straits crossing project: plan to replace icebreaker ferry to Prince Edward Island with very long bridge; design of bridge to withstand ice; work with Scott Polar institute in Cambridge on sea ice; consortium manager Bechtel distrust of Canadian official estimates of design conditions; anecdote about interviewing icebreaker captain at Prince Edward Island over ice thickness question; [22:55] Canadian government design criteria errors, leading to Bechtel losing contract, but later change of criteria; proposed design for bridge using conical supports; American consortium Bechtel; PH pride at Hong Kong bridge.[25:55] Comments on work with composite materials: PH project managing maintenance of Tees Viaduct on A19 in Middlesbrough; marine engineer Douglas Faulkner from Dumferlin ship research institute suggesting use of reinforced plastics to wrap bridge; PH research into composites at Institute of Maritime Engineers, use of composite in naval minesweepers; design of modular system to build suspended floors for bridge wrapping, origin of advanced composite construction system; patenting of methods; [31:10] advantages of composite materials in civil engineering; fire tests and other safety concerns with composites; connection methods for of composite modules; description of composite enclosure on a bridge; use of enclosure on second Severn crossing and Bancock bridge; [36:40] PH attraction to economic benefits of enclosing bridge; reactions of others to idea, support of reinforced plastic industry and award to PH of Annual British Plastic Federation conference, conservative reactions with construction industry; learning from Westland Helicopters and Derby rail research facility to write specifications for composite materials; winning of production contract by GEC Preston defence factory, GEC background in pultrusion; [42:35] PH role personally pushing composite work; creation of Maunsell Structural Plastics limited to limit risks, headed by PH; PH having to develop expertise in manufacturing to create high quality specification for manufacturing structural composites; importance of specification to composite use in civil engineering more general; PH consulting Goldsworthy, Pultrex, Scott Bader, Vectrotex and other partners. [46:44] Remarks on: holidays increasingly involving travel for work; family enjoying international travel connected with work; sharing management experiences with headteacher wife.
Interview with civil engineer, Peter Head