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Hugh Doherty interviewed by Thomas Lean

Doherty, Hugh, (speaker, male; interviewee)
2017-09-12

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  • Title:
    Hugh Doherty interviewed by Thomas Lean
  • Contributor: Doherty, Hugh, (speaker, male; Lean, Thomas (speaker, male
  • Rights: BL
  • Description:
    Track 1 [1:56:09] [Session one: 12 October 2017] Introductory remarks: civil engineer; born in Glasgow in 1943; married with three children and seven grand children; family moving from tenement apartment in Maryhill to new council estate in Priesthill when HD was 7. [2:00] Remarks on parents and upbringing: mother born in Scotland but viewing herself as Irish; father's family Irish, born in Glasgow, viewing himself as Sottish; HD seeing himself as Scots and British; father Steven a plater at Clydeside shipyard, often on strike, effecting HD's view of unions, decline of shipbuilding; description of father, quiet man, HD not knowing him well socially; mother making food for other children. [06:25] mother, Rose, pleasant and hard working; Irish Catholic, family raised as Catholics; anecdote about mother wanting HD to be a priest, but father wanting him to finish schooling first, HD deciding to go to university instead of being a priest; [08:40] HD brother training as a priest for a time; HD mother committed to Church her whole life; HD committed to idea of being a priest as he grew up, hopes to be a White Father missionary; HD interest in football; long term supporter for Manchester United and Glasgow Celtic. [10:50] Remarks on interest in balsa wood aeroplane modelling: process of making models; flying models at Abbotsinch Navy air station; rubber powered models, HD unable to afford engines; enjoying the challenge of building aircraft and the satisfaction of seeing it fly; plans in modelling magazines; anecdote about later meeting designer of Shorty brand model gliders, the managing director of John Mowlem engineering firm. [15:25] Remarks on interests in youth: playing and watching football; selling programmes at Celtic games; JD life long work ethic, many jobs in youth; HD continuing to play football as he worked on engineering projects around country; skills of footballers in past despite heavy leather footballs and muddy pitches. [18:45] Remarks on brothers: HD eldest of six; death of brother Eddie, a British Telecom worker; Steven, a teacher now working for British Telecom; Gerald, a musician and music teacher; Paul, working in publishing in Germany; John, art teacher in Hong Kong; 4 married; Paul training as priest for a time but deciding against it; mentions a friend who trained as a priest but didn’t become one, damaging education; lists educations of brothers; HD sharing a brother with close brother Eddie, remaining in contact with other brothers but large age gaps; death of father, meaning HD younger brothers raised by mother whilst HD worked in England. [24:30] Remarks on childhood homes and family life: few memories of flat in Maryhill, shared toilet, taking the tram to school; palatial three bedroom council flat in Priesthill on outskirts of Glasgow, positive effects of house building schemes in past but poor design of many housings estates with limited amenities; mix of population in housing estate in Priesthill, decline of area in later years, demolition and replacement with private housing; family benefiting from proper housing; outline of three bedroom flat; BC busy serving at church activities, school and flying model aircraft, meaning limited amount of time spent at home; [30:20] layout of apartment block; watching 'Andy Pandy' and Bill and Ben' on neighbour’s television after school, BC family listening to radio; Family Favourites radio show; mentions trips to cinema; visits to family in Ireland and Scotland, few holidays otherwise; HD father working long hours. [33:50] Remarks on religion in upbringing: serving as an alter boy; anecdote about priest telling him off for mumbling Latin prayers; religious education at Catholic schools; younger brothers becoming sceptical earlier than HD; mother setting example of church attendance, father less committed; influence of religion on HD, not great believer now, but benefiting from clarity of thinking and discipline it offered; need reconcile life with belief or not believe; HD decision in teenage years not to follow priesthood, changes in beliefs, but having limited ideas what he would do at first. [39:45] Remarks on sectarianism in Glasgow: HD seeing violence between supporters at Rangers-Celtic games; story about Rangers fans throwing bottles at a bus; mentions visiting a friend who's parents knew which football team he supported by his name; lack of Catholic foreman at Clydeside shipyards; HD pleasantly surprised at lack of sectarianism in England. [43:40] Remarks on 1950s Glasgow: reputation for toughness, but not unpleasant; awful weather in Glasgow, anecdote about surprise at seeing people without coats in London; basic nature of food but sufficient. [45:40] Remarks on father's work as a shipyard plater: shipbuilding a large employer, several celebrities working on Clydeside; major industry during British empire, but lack of investment in modern facilities leading to decline. [48:55] Remarks on politics: father voting Labour, as common with working classes in general, but other families Conservative voting; Scottish nationalism not a major issue at time; father joining strike protests but not union official; mother hating unions due to strikes' effect on family finances and view that they unions were serving their own interests. [53:00] Remarks on parents: paternal grandfather a shipbuilder, paternal grandmother dying early in father's life; father raised in Glasgow; mother raised in a farm in Ireland, family moving to Fife, but then grandmother returning to Ireland whilst grandfather working in construction in Scotland; mother's aspirations for HD to enter priesthood, but if not to became successful in some other field; hard-working father working late shifts, influencing HD's work ethic; mother's influence on his beliefs. [57:55] Remarks on schooling: first attending St Charles school in Maryhill with younger brother; then attending St Roberts School in Presthill; anecdote about a prefect taunting another pupil; HD a reasonable but not exceptional pupil, passing 11 plus; 11 plus dooming pupils in junior secondary to poor schooling; sectarian split recognised in split of schools; HD attending Holyrood Senior Secondary School, description of large Catholic Grammar school; lists subjects taught in school; anecdote about studying ancient Greek; HD not good at Latin; Latin and Greek studied to be a priest; deciding to focus on subjects he was good at; anecdote about self perpetuation of classics teachers; [1:04:30]


    Track 1 [cont. from 1:04:30] good standard of teaching; strict discipline with corporal punishment common; large school; mentions HD wife begin a teacher [1:06:30] cruelty of children, mentions them picking on a teacher; physical punishments helping to retain order; teachers holding homework classes; difficulty judging whether teaching standard responsible for high university drop-out rates; anecdote about maths teacher Mr Doig unhelpful comments before exams; [1:10:30] anecdote about history teacher Bob Crampsy, also famous as television football reporter; science teaching; playing football before classes; HD a well behaved pupil anecdote about becoming class captain in fifth year, acceptable to pupils and teachers; [1:14:20] outline of Scottish schooling and exam system; HD, sitting Scottish Higher Exams at 17, needing language to study at Glasgow so returning to school for a sixth year and going to Strathclyde Royal College of Science and Technology, then seeking university charter; Glasgow University students also taught at Strathclyde; Associateship in lieu of later award of BSc; HD Higher exam results. [1:16:45] Remarks on studying engineering at Strathclyde: not wanting to go into academic work, wanting to work in something that applied his maths and physics skills; civil engineering having attractive mix of outdoor life and constructing things; considering electrical engineering; mentions son being a doctor; model aircraft interesting him in aeronautical engineering; decision not to enter the priesthood; Scottish tendency to live at home during university, anecdote about his daughter choosing to study away from home; Strathclyde engineering education respected; [1:22:40] university grant; domestic advantages of living at home; many foreign students at Strathclyde, many Norwegians, few English; Strathclyde university dedicated to engineering and based in one building at time, but expanding in later years, mentions daughter later attending Strathclyde; [1:26:00] description of Strathclyde building. [1:27:30] Remarks on 4 year engineering course: general engineering in first year; gradual specialisation into civil engineering in subsequent years; HD enjoying soil mechanics, disliking hydraulics; 6 month period working on construction project a big influence on HD; many students dropping out in first year, greater freedom compared to school making it easy for people not to study; [1:34:10] HD trying to get a balance at university between attending lectures and socialising, work ethic from background; story about discussion with daughter comparing their workloads at university, HD full timetable of lectures and laboratories, afternoon of general studies; evening spent in union studying or playing bridge and snooker. [1:38:40] Remarks on six month placement in industry working on Clyde Tunnel: friend informing him of opportunity; need for workers on project to pass test that they could clear their ear drums whilst working in a compressed air environment; background of Clyde Tunnel project to build a major road tunnel under river; HD impressed by experience of major construction and working underground; first day, meeting engineers from Halcrow, HD working for contractor Charles Brand; tough miners digging tunnels; challenging project; interactions with miners with demanding standards; helpful engineers, such as David Stevens; HD meeting engineers from project later in life; lifts home from engineers; HD eager to finish university and begin engineering work. [1:45:20] Description of digging a tunnel through sand: metal shield with miners excavating at front; pressurisation of tunnel to keep water out during digging; health issues caused by working in compressed air, the bends, bone necrosis; compressed air workers carrying treatment information in case they were found ill outside of work; impossibility of whistling and feelings of pressure in compressed air workplace; importance of equalising pressure in ears, risks of a cold. [1:51:20] Further remarks on working on Clyde Tunnel: HD fascinated by tunnel seeing building techniques; HD speeding 3 months on tunnels and 3 months on approach road excavations; teamwork atmosphere; HD spending much time surveying, quality checking; manual digging using pneumatic spades; foreman wearing bowler hat; tough miners; HD interest in work.


    Track 2 [50:51] Remarks on return to university after digging Clyde tunnel: basic construction course; details of civil engineering subjects studied, HD feeling more affinity with construction related topics than more specialist areas like hydraulics; interest in soil mechanics, which he could readily see the applications of; [pause 4:30] contrasts with approach of current university courses; less emphasis on project management in civil engineering when HD started his career, compared to more formal management today; other students on course, socialising in union with a beer, HD and friends becoming addicted to playing bridge, difficulty keeping in touch with university friends; Norwegian students interest in skiing; dedication of overseas students funded by their parents. [10:00] Remarks on women in civil engineering: no women studying civil engineering at time; macho civil engineering environments, women not encouraged to work in engineering until more recent years; some men objecting to women joining golf clubs; possible effects of more women in engineering; restricting some people from an activity diminishing it by reducing pool of talent, contrasts with experiences of sectarianism. [17:20] Remarks on satisfactions in civil engineering: HD attracted by sense of achievement in completing civil engineering projects and seeing them in use by people; example of feelings after completion of Hong Kong metro project; anecdote about relative teasing him about problematic Kingston Bridge; sewer project to clean up the Mersey, preoccupation with challenges of the job whilst working, but with awareness of benefits to society; benefits to society a factor at project development phase. [21:50] Remarks on period after university: HD passing degree; finding a job straight away working for Sir William Halcrow and Partners designing and building Clyde tunnel approach roads, realising he would rather work on site than at design office; finding job through advert; [24:00] HD playing guitar in a band, 1960s period of the Beetles' and Rolling Stones popularity, band members keen on expanding, HD not seeing future as a musician; HD going out with wife. [26:00] Remarks on chartered engineering status: requiring experience of construction and design, HD trying to quickly gain design experience so he could work in construction uninterrupted; importance of chartered engineering status, mark of academic attainment and engineering experience in both design and construction; career importance of being chartered. [29:30] Remarks on doing design: no computers; use of slide rule; checking of design calculations; draughtsmen turning engineering calculations in drawings used to build; description of Pitt Street offices; routine nature of work in design offices compared to field engineering, which also involved more moving for work; HD doing enough design work for chartered status and applying to work on site, shortly afterwards offered job at tunnelling company in London, realising he wanted to leave Glasgow, leaving band. [34:50] Remarks on working on site for Halcrow: outline of civil engineering project management, client, Glasgow Corporation, commissioning a consulting engineer, Halcrow, to design the project and supervise its construction by contractors; comparison with later approaches for project managing civil engineering projects; changes in British construction industry, familiar company names from HD early career disappearing after bankruptcy or takeovers; [39:00] HD interested by work of contractor, who had to deal with the practicalities of building something; contractors having to deal with labour issues; HD wanting to spend time learning civil engineering business with a contractor. [41:20] Remarks on drawbacks of civil engineering career: demanding lifestyle, movement around the country; living in flat with brother whilst working in London, move to Blackpool leaving him on his own, and needing to make friends; moving around the country and having to reintegrate with each move; not being able to go home after work, living with land lady in Blackpool, anecdote about cold lodgings near Warrington; engineer and his family living in a caravan on a project; downsides of contractors in little say of where you worked; difficulties for wives and families in moving home to new places. [46:20] Remarks on: how HF met wife, knowing her at university but only getting together later; HD career path, not wanting to specialise but to get all-round experience and gain more responsibility, mentions later move to Guernsey to work on non-tunnel project.


    Track 3 [1:53:38] [Session two: 28 November 2017] Remarks on early career: limited career prospects in Scotland; living in a flat on Belgrave Road with brother and other Scots; working in London for 9 months for Mitchell Brothers, before move to work on a tunnel in Blackpool; Blackpool tunnel trialling new decompression procedures, resignation after not being permitted an extra payment for working under compressed air; [pause 2:40] description of potentially risky 'decanting' decompression procedure, later formalised as the Blackpool Tables, similarity with decompression of divers; [05:30] leaving Mitchell Brothers for Taylor Woodrow to work on motorways in the Midlands; marriage and living in Walsall; move to work for Marples Ridgway on Kingston Bridge tunnels in Glasgow for a year; HD moving jobs to build up experience of different work, need to balance family requirements, Glasgow offering chance of family nearby and tunnel work; Marples Ridgway moving HD to Guernsey to work on coastal defences for two years, enjoying Guernsey but no potential for staying; [09:00] HD rejoining Mitchell brothers to work on Mersey sewer project; birth of son whilst in Guernsey, wife not working afterwards, tight family finances after buying house in Warrington; move to Portsmouth to work on Mitchell Brothers tunnel project, buying a house in Bognor Regis, birth of daughter; work on pipe line and tunnel project in Eastleigh; Mitchell Brothers stopping trading; HD applying for job in Hong Kong on underground railway, but project shelved; HD move to work on Dinorwic pumped storage power station for John Mowlem, difficulties with children's schooling, anecdote about Swedish colleagues children being taught in Welsh; HD being approached to work on resurrected Hong Kong underground project; retaining home in Bognor for family breaks; HD working on stations and running tunnels in compressed air; 5 years in Hong Kong, great challenges, such as digging stations around buildings. [15:40] Remarks on Mitchell Brothers period of career: feelings about leaving Glasgow for London, easy transition; Blackpool uninviting in winter, but supportive landlady, pub football team and enjoying work; HD London work on Post Office cable tunnels, rendered obsolete by new technology; Mitchell brothers also working on underground mail train tunnels; HD work on site in London; working with miners on tunnelling jobs, many Irish miners; engineers role supervising tunnel projects. [21:40] Discussion about working as contractor and for clients: HD enjoying working as contractor, challenge of finding engineering solutions for how things could be done; HD working as contractor through subsequent jobs; HD work in Hong Kong working for client, supervising contractors; varied relationships between client's staff and contractors, checking of contractors' work by client's engineers, debate about levels of involvement; work required to meet contract requirements; mentions checking processes of work on Jubilee Line Extension, lighter touch checking on Heathrow Tunnel, which collapsed sparking much debate about self-certification of contractors' work; self-certification cutting costs but carrying risks for clients; mentions collapse of a highway in Hong-Kong damaging prospects of contractor; importance of whole team working to ensure project was done correctly; outline of traditional relationship between contractor and resident engineer; HD enjoyment of deciding how projects could be carried out. [28:20] Remarks on tunnelling under London: little evidence of human settlement deep underground in London clay, but some in shallower levels; possibility of hitting tunnels by accident, government checking that plans did not collide with secret tunnels; no need for compressed air tunnelling in London clay, but needed in sandy ground where water came through. [31:40] Remarks on work in Blackpool on sewer: tunnel out into Irish Sea; sewage pumped into sea at time; digging half a mile out under sea; joining of tunnel to shaft. [33:40] Remarks on work in Midlands on motorways: varied civil engineering work; Midlands Link M6 motorway; outline of HD duties; outline of process for setting out a site, responsibility of engineers then but surveyors now; surveying with theodolites and chain man; outline of translating consultant's bridge plans into an actual bridge; casting of concrete bridge components; [39:00] working hours, short days and cold weather limiting site progress in winter; laying of road surface; much preparatory work; motorways designed to balance cut and fill of soil to reduce need to move soil off site; HD enjoying motorway work, keen to have varied experiences for CV; managing labour on site, lists varied trades needed for different aspects of work; skills issues with labour staff, increased formality of checking skills today and shortages amongst skilled tradespeople; anecdote about labourers learning on the job; foremen responsible for gathering labour force, some companies maintaining core workforce; [47:15] HD not suffering badly from industrial relations issues personally in 1970s, mentions 1970s difficulties with unions, declining in 1980s except for specialist trades; risks of industrial relations problems threatening infrastructure projects, anecdote about risks of Thames Barrier not being finished on time; importance of foremen to projects; foremen needing to be intelligent and tough; management hierarchy of engineering projects. [52:45] Remarks on civil engineering industry in 1960s and 1970s: HD finding advert in newspaper for Hong Kong job; Mitchell Brothers trying to find their staff jobs when closed down, leading to Mowlem approaching HD; many familiar engineering companies disappearing since HD early career, small profit margins and lack of work continuity of civil engineering; Mowlem later taken over by Carillion, now in financial trouble themselves; many foreign companies working in UK now; Costain and Balfour Beatty rare survivors; Margaret Thatcher cutbacks limiting work available for civil engineering industry, cyclical nature of industry sending many civil engineers to work abroad. [59:00] Remarks on work in Glasgow: working with English engineers and Irish miners; family life in Glasgow; outline of tunnel project to drain water away from Kingston Bridge; challenges of working in compressed air in sandy soil. [1:01:00]


    Track 3 [cont. from 1:01:00] Remarks on contracts: keeping a project on track; risks of company being unrealistic in the price it bid for the contract; contention over allocation of risk on project, client allowed to make variations to design, payments to contractor under 'Clause 12' for adverse unexpected conditions effecting project completion to budget; HD preferring a costs plus profit margin approach; financial risks to contractors; clause 12 an allocation of risk, not to compensate for jobs being under-priced; anecdote about rejected possibility of Hong Kong transit project to be built without Clause 12, risks for contractors and clients; [1:07:00] difficulties for contractors in claiming under Clause 12; changes to contracts to take quality more into account as well as price; more preparatory work leading to more accurate pricing; impossibility of client not varying works somehow; interaction with resident engineer over adverse conditions; [1:11:10] mentions difficulties on Carsignton project when unforeseen conditions were discovered. [1:12:20] Remarks on time on Guernsey: pleasant living environment; work treatment works, rock tunnel and coastal defences; HD unusual position as Engineer in Charge; outline of staff run by HD; logistics of sourcing materials on Guernsey. [1:16:10] Remarks on work for Mitchelll Brothers in Warrington: project on tunnel near Mersey to improve water quality; resolving industrial relations problems with miners. [1:18:20] Remarks on development of compressed air tunnelling: Japanese developing tunnelling techniques that did not required compressed air working, gradually adopted elsewhere; modern tunnelling machines having compressed air face, but not open to people normally; compressed air working little used today. [1:20:40] Remarks on health and safety: increased attention to safety over HD career; greater emphasis on occupational health over HD career, such as over use of asbestos in tunnel caulking causing health problems; distinction of later Jubilee Line Extension work having no deaths during project; death of fireman during a fire in tunnel in Hong Kong; foreman left crippled by bone necrosis from working in compressed air; [1:26:45] no risk assessments in past, but checks that works were secure; outline of 1972 Loddon Bridge Disaster caused by changes to temporary works, resulting in new regulations; HD wearing helmet and boots at work, but safety gear a fall-back as accidents should be prevented in the first place. [1:31:00] Remarks on: tunnelling being inherently dirty, reduced by new tunnelling machines; difficulties with ventilating tunnels being lined with shotcrete; musty smell underground; risks of gas in tunnels. [1:34:10] Remarks on: outline of tunnel and pipeline project at Eastleigh; little formal engineering training once working; companies offering training in contractual and safety issues, but not more engineering; Institution of Civil Engineers [ICE] and companies gradually more formal training opportunities; HD becoming mentor for younger engineers at Mowlem; contractors unable to afford their staff being away for long periods for training; importance of learning on the job and reading for yourself; difficulty for staff to leave projects for training. [1:40:30] Remarks HD work for John Mowlem on Dinorwig: demise of Mitchell Brothers after Grampian Holdings decided to close them, directors recommending redundant staff to other companies; well established John Mowlem company; collapse of slate tunnel at Dinorwig prior to HD arriving; HD role as agent, working for experienced rock tunneller; many doubts that project could be completed in the slate, exploratory tunnels dug by Mowlem allowing main project to proceed; [1:45:00] Central Electricity Generating Board [CEGB] respect for Mowlem work, tough client to work for, tough project manager Yori Ellis; monthly project meetings, need to stand ground against criticisms; outline of HD work on project, more managerial at this time, demanding but enjoyable; [1:48:35] HD living in Llanberis, Llanfairfechan, Beaumaris, Llandudno; anecdote about impossibility of get a beer in a hotel in Wales; people speaking Welsh; 90% local labour, necessitating training and need for translators; few entertainments available in North Wales; tunnelling through slate; mechanised nature of work.


    Track 4 [1:05:53] Remarks on family and work: children doing most of schooling in same location; wife having to move around, difficult after settling in a place; HD commuting weekly to places for work, such as Dinorwic, whilst family remained at home in Bognor; HD prioritising work to earn money to support family; not wanting children to have to move too much, mentions colleague’s wife's distaste for moving after experience as an army child; anecdote about HD and wife deciding to move to Hong Kong rather than Newcastle. [05:00] Comments on work in Hong Kong on mass transit railway [MTR]: HD applying for job on aborted project, later approached when MTR was resurrected; HD first impressions of Hong Kong in 1976, HD liking city life, interesting project; living in apartment in the New Territories; description of project, first stage of underground railway, Mowlem hired as consulting engineers to oversee project by client; growth of network in later years; first train running in 1980s, opened by Princess Alexandria, involvement of governor Murray MacLehose; [10:00] HD considering resigning after completion of first line, wanting to work in British industry and for children to be raised in Britain not Hong Kong; outline of HD work on MTR, initially as resident engineer supervising a station and tunnels, then promoted to more senior roles with more station and tunnels; lists stations HD was responsible for supervising; compressed air tunnels; description of rock conditions under Hong Kong, mainly weathered granite and alluvial deposits. [14:35] Description of process of building a station: excavating station box; traffic diversions; tunnelling; local people disliking tunnel sites; challenge of digging deep hole in middle of Nathan Road, surrounded by old buildings with poor quality foundations; need for monitoring of buildings around site for movement, manual monitoring methods of time; some buildings moving as ground under them was de-watered, not a problem if building settled evenly; prediction of movement of buildings; mentions later technique of compensation grouting used on Jubilee Line extension; [21:45] relations with local population, local traders not caring for disruption of building works, 2 year excavation period, 5 years overall time for completion; some stations made as series of tunnels, such as Farringdon in London, others excavated as a box; completion time and cost estimates often wrong, pressure to keep budgets low to keep contractors focussed and because high prices might lead to projects not being funded, examples of 2012 Olympics and Scottish Parliament. [27:50] Outline of HD task assessing contractor financial claims on changes to contract; British consulting engineers, largely Japanese contracting firms. [29:00] Remarks on cultural features of working with Japanese contractors: language issues, anecdote about risks of using slang; Japanese engineers' wives not invited to social events; Japanese emphasising work over family; socialising with whiskey and each other in evenings; culture of junior staff protecting senior staff from making potentially controversial decisions.[34:30] Remarks on MTR: Hong Kong government owner initially, limited direct contact with project except through board meetings; HD working for Construction Manager, outline of management hierarchy; HD degree of freedom in work to make decisions, progress and problems reported to line manager; HD satisfactions in work; importance of maintaining progress; HD role valuing work that had been done, but not responsible for keeping to budget; respecting contractors' need to make a profit; priorities of safety and quality; focus on building to programme; [42:20] Remarks on health and safety in Hong Kong: difficulties with labour force culturally accepting higher level of risk than in Britain, due to experience of lower safety regimes; Japanese high level of safety culture dissipated by use of sub-contractors with lower levels; risks of collapses in excavation, mentions later collapse in Munich. [45:45] Remarks on colleagues: HD boss Douglas Oakervee, later president of ICE; discussion about friendships in civil engineering, seeing people from time to time, but people spread around world; current ICE president Robert Mair and other later colleagues also working in Hong Kong for parts of their careers. [49:15] Remarks on: MTR work helping to establish HD reputation, HD wanting to build up expertise and experience to retain employability; HD gratified by other companies approaching him with job offers; importance of developing a good reputation, anecdote about being thanked with a bottle of whisky whilst helping to fix a problem before he left Blackpool. [52:30] Remarks on amateur football: HD becoming chairman of MTR football club, team developing from largely ex-pat membership to Chinese; HD enjoying camaraderie. [54:30] Remarks on life in Hong Kong: HD work successful, enjoying proving himself on a major international job; life outside work, membership of Kowloon Bowling Green Club, restricted membership not allowing locals; boat trips, family days out; HD wife enjoying life in Hong Kong, HD offered further job but wanting to return to Britain; wife and children enjoying life in Hong Kong, making friends; local members of staff, but apartment block in New Territories mainly occupied by ex-pats; [1:01:45] HD enjoying life in Hong Kong, birth of third child; family having amah servant; period a marker in HD life; trains working by time HD left; completion moment when MTR opened; leaving Hong Kong, wanting children educated and raised in Britain, not wanting to send children to boarding school, wanting to return to working in contracting.


    Track 5 [1:35:01] [Session three: 18 January 2018] Remarks on returning to Britain from Hong Kong in 1980: new job as Contracts Manager for Mowlem, responsibility for substructure works of Westminster international conference centre and problematic Carsington aqueduct tunnel; JC task supporting job agent and overseeing big picture of projects; problematic Don Valley Tunnel project; new managing director not interested in tunnels, leading Mowlem to move away from tunnelling works and HD transfer to Mowlem management, where he managed Canary Wharf building projects; HD progressing from project manager, to project director, to associate director of Mowlem management; [05:20] Remarks on management contracting: lists different project contract arrangements; description of work of management contractor, organising tendering and contracts with subcontractors for client, in exchange for a fee; outline of development of management contracting as a way of running projects, way of starting projects earlier, work arranged as a series of phased packages; clients increasingly wanting management contractors to take part of risk not just receive a fee; [10:10] HD approached to join London Underground, not wanting to stay in management contractor due to clients pushing agreements that were more favourable to client but carried higher risks and lower profits for contractor. [12:15] Remarks on Canary Wharf buildings: HD working on buildings known as FC4 and FC6; American client Olympian York, going bust as project was completed, losing Mowlem its retention fee; HD learning about buildings; 1980s a difficulty period of construction industry; HD heading a team bidding unsuccessfully for Canary Wharf infrastructure, offered a building project instead if HD would lead it; HD task leading team of managers working on different aspects, liaising with client; [18:00] industrial problems; Olympian York financial troubles, completion slippage; job becoming more pressurised; HD work heavily about interfacing with people. [19:45] Remarks on Carsington tunnel: 2 years over time due to mistakes with ground specifications from client, change from tunnelling machinery to blasting; 5km long tunnel; delayed jobs rarely suffering from lack of hard work, but running into difficult problems that had to be overcome, with financial consequences and problems with clients. [23:20] Remarks on banning of drinking alcohol on construction sites: acceptance of alcohol ban at Canary Wharf; anecdote about HD staying sober at ICE event as he had to return to work; anecdote about drunken foreman falling over in 1966. [25:30] Remarks on: Mowlem a professional company to work for with some long serving experienced staff and technical experts to call on; HD respect for Mowlem, glad to return after Hong Kong and to join Mowlem management after tunnel business closed; HD unsure about career direction at time; overview of groups managed by management consultant, a variation on other roles HD had done. [28:10] Story about starting work at London Underground: HD headhunted and interviewed for project director of Cross Rail, expectation that Mike Smith would move from Jubilee Line Extension to Cross Rail, opening up post on Jubilee; Jubilee leaders Russell Black and Mike Smith both familiar to HD from Hong Kong; HD offered Construction Manager role on Jubilee; Jubilee Project Director Russell Black leaving project, leading to HD replacing him, with Mike Smith as Construction Manager; mentions Russell Black taking over HD job when he left Hong Kong; large size of project, mentions problems caused by staff later leaving; Jubilee Line best project of HD career; knowing scale of challenge from Hong Kong experience. [34:30] Remarks on funding of Jubilee Line Extension: initial plan that project would be 90% public and 10% private funded; private partner Olympian York going bust at start of process; government demanding private partner be found to replace them; some in government against project, other realising that investment in new transport project was needed; anecdote about Evening Standard reporting that Jubilee Line Extension was cancelled, HD reassuring staff; Margaret Thatcher view that projects needed a contribution from private sector, as they would benefit from its completion; long negotiation with banks for extra 10%, process headed by Denis Tunnicliffe; 18 month preparation, Parliamentary Bill, risks to 10% Olympian York contribution becoming apparent; banks funding Jubilee Line Extension as it made it possible to later sell Canary Wharf for a profit; political importance of 10% private contribution; anecdote about heavy use of Jubilee Line. [43:00] Remarks overviewing Jubilee Line Extension: outline of route through London; interconnection with other lines; anecdote about Canada Water residents not wanting the line; isolation of Canary Wharf at time; study showing relative importance of Cross Rail, Jubilee Line and Chelsea-Hackney [now Crossrail 2] lines; Olympian York seeing importance of Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf; new priorities seeing later extensions to other lines, new technology making South and East extensions of underground feasible; [49:00] underground ability to move mass numbers of people into London, impossible to emulate using buses, some densely populated cities needing underground systems; importance of government investment in infrastructure, mentions Singapore investment in underground and legislation against car transport. [51:30] Remarks on HD work on Jubilee Line Extension: office based at first, recruitment of construction staff; promotion to project director seeing HD take a wider purview, including design and architecture, links with government; HD preferring to have done construction manager role than deal with political aspects of project manager work; HD subordinate managers in charge of different aspects of project, including construction, administration, design, finance; [55:45] lack of a typical day; meetings with senior staff, anecdotes about lengthy meetings and HD resolutions to start and finish meetings on time; impossibility of controlling all issues but need to monitor them and dedicate time to problems; importance of prioritising but allowing staff to get on with work; 5.30am - 8pm days; HD doing paperwork on train. [1:00:20] Remarks on state of project when HD took over: government aspects well progressed; architects appointed separately, design running late; delays in funding, impossibility of awarding contracts as finances not agreed, necessitating HD and others reassuring contractors over tendering process; £2.2billion price at start at 1996 prices, eventual 3.5billion costs; costs escalating, but money not wasted, end result successful; initial 53 month timescale planned on basis of quite different Hong Kong Metro; anecdote about impossibility of accurately estimating costs; customer gaining an asset worth £3.5 billion and to profit from over decades, unfair to make short-change contractor; [1:05:40] contract making provision for design changes at a price; contracts arranged to be ready to sign when financing was available, £1billion of contracts signed at start of project, ceremony with prime minister John Major at start of project; mechanical and electrical a design and supply contract; construction started at multiple locations, need to minimise disturbance to people around sites, multiple sections minimising risks from problems; outline of construction process; station construction. [1:10:50] Remarks on Jubilee Line stations: typical approach for small tunnelled underground stations on existing lines; Roland Polleti brought in as architect; aspiration for grand underground stations, difficult to build; debate over costs and elegance of stations; tunnelled stations such as Waterloo also having more space than typical; Westminster Station, 'Sunday Times' reporting that Big Ben was being caused to tilt by Jubilee Line work, but actually sun and tides causing it to move daily; Robert Mair, John Burland and John King joining as experts to ensure stability of Big Ben; challenge of building Westminster station around existing District and Circle line station; [1:17:20] BBC documentary on Jubilee line featuring HD; compensation grouting used to stabilise Big Ben as building happened beneath; outline of building of Canning Town station by Mowlem with precast units slide into place; HD impressed with engineering involved; interaction with architects, importance of costs over artistic merits in British projects. [1:21:40] Remarks on interactions with the public: liaison with different communities; example of talks to schools in Bermondsey; liaison with local government; interactions with Fine Arts Commission; mentions problems with residents near Canada Water; NIMBYISM. [1:25:20] Remarks on archaeology: liaison with Museum of London to agree schedule for archaeologists to investigate sites before they were worked, example of excavations at Borough Hugh Street uncovering substantial finds; books by Museum of London on archaeology of project; discovery of iron age horse, and abbey and remains of 700 monks at Stratford, later reinterred by Cistercians order; archaeology arrangements impressing HD; anecdote about construction in Turkey unexpectedly discovering artefacts; archaeology well planned, treating environment with respect. [1:30:10] Remarks on media interest in project: HD not enjoying being in public spotlight; negative nature of some coverage; much interest by technical journals; Evening Standard hostility toward Underground, anecdote about stories that tube lines didn't meet up after launch of a basic service on part of the line; BBC documentary good for showing people what was involved in HD work; debate over time and budget.


    Track 6 [1:18:45] Remarks on: BBC documentary on Jubilee Line Extension, even-handed, focused on problems and technical issues, mentions earlier experience with news report about Carsington, family and friends positive reaction; difficulties talking to people in industry due to confidentiality; anecdote about favourable reaction to BBC film amongst HD gym members. [05:25] Remarks on Heathrow Express rail tunnel collapse: description of shotcrete lining tunnelling and construction method; collapse of Heathrow tunnel causing problems as same technique was used on some Jubilee stations, pausing of work, client taking control from contractors, importance of safety; development of strategy to continue work, discussions with Health and Safety Executive [HSE] to continue using shotcrete, but parallel plans made to use tunnelling machines and segmented lining to continue work if shotcrete technique banned; plans changed as HSE discovered what caused collapse, resulting in restart of work; project adding a year to project, but importance of getting back to work rather than analysing problem; support of Dennis Tunnicliffe, London Underground Chairman. [12:10] Remarks: on health and safety, no deaths during construction, unusual for a project that size; relations with London Underground, interaction with board, but separate working organisation; involvement of London Underground board in procurement process; reliance on London Underground for signalling expertise; London Underground Engineering Director Brian Mellor and Jubilee electrical and mechanical design manager T C Chew both resigning early on in process; ongoing problems with signalling, anecdote about Westinghouse delivery date on signalling slipping; [17:50] signalling a cottage industry in decline, few specialist companies available; problems with introduction of computerised signalling. [19:30] Remarks on major challenges of Jubilee Line Extension: London Underground having to unexpectedly pay for Stratford Station; anecdote about Canary Wharf station having to be reassigned after it was assumed that a large hole in the ground would be filled by a building, causing contractual issues; memorable events in life of project; ongoing process of problem solving and different stages, such as junctioning of tunnels, completion of rail track, leading up to eventual opening of project for public; [24:35] junctioning tunnels a cause for celebration, anecdote about a colleague on a sewer project realising that his tunnels wouldn't meet. [26:20] Remarks on colleagues: outline of hierarchical structure of contracts and managers, and HD interaction with managers; monthly meetings with Treasury, focussed on finances rather than engineering. [29:00] Remarks on difficulties understanding costs of project due to contract arrangements: contractors allowed to make claims for variations of work, but HD managers having to estimate these costs as project developed rather than having firm figures; HD meeting with contractors to try to understand their costs; client not knowing true costs of project; later changes to civil engineering contractual arrangements, mentions recent Cross Rail experience; project apparently over budget early on, but not possible to understand how much.[34:40] Remarks on length of project: initial 53 month expectation; delays due to funding issues at start of project; original project timetable for service to Canary Wharf; timelines changing after London Underground that line would be ready for to service Millennium Dome in late 1999, electricians launching labour dispute for completion bonuses, increased Government involvement absorbing more of HD time; mentions involvement of Minister Glenda Jackson; job becoming less enjoyable, assurances based on contractors assumptions; change from moving block to conventional signalling system as readily deliverable; [40:25] project team taking actions to simplify project to make it more deliverable on time, but underappreciated; project team not fully appreciating at first how Millennium Dome would come to bring extra pressure on the project. [42:50] Remarks on completion of project: confidence in ability to get Stratford - North Greenwich trains running to service Millennium Dome, even if other parts of project delayed; Peter Levine instigating Bechtel review of project, who reported that it would be hard to deliver but that they could complete project in phases, a solution already suggested by Jubilee Line team; HD learning that Bechtel were being brought in as project managers to complete project; HD deciding against another Underground job, quickly being offered a job in Singapore; anecdote about HD missing his farewell dinner as he was starting work in Singapore; [46:40] HD reflections on Bechtel being brought in, HD disappointed but accepting situation; HD beginning process of commercial settlement, freeing up contractors to complete project; difficulty matching commercial settlements with government contracts; HD meeting with contractors in 1998 to try and discover real costs of project; settling of contracts by London Underground; anecdote about Bechtel manager later complimenting HD. [52:40] Remarks on: complexities of project making costs hard to estimate; anecdote about architect Roland Polletti thanking HD for not altering designs to save money, a pragmatic decision by HD to avoid changing things; limiting changes avoiding contractors making claims. [55:00] Remark on industrial relations on JLE: expectation that no special industrial relations strategy would be needed; Canary Wharf formalised industrial relations but still suffering strikes; London Underground not vetting project workers, in spite of offers; only industrial relations difficulties with mechanical - electrical workers; troublemaking group of electricians who wanted special bonuses, sabotaged work on cabling, and bullied extra electricians brought in to accelerate work; press criticism over lack of a site labour agreement. [1:00:25] Remarks on tunnelling methods: description of mechanised tunnelling and construction, contrast with manual methods of HD earlier career; advantages of mechanised digging. [1:03:00] Remarks on female engineers: some female engineers on Jubilee Line, greatly increased on Cross Rail; correct to encourage more women to join civil engineering; women engineers on Singapore projects, more on design side, site work previously seen as a male preserve; equality and the encouragement of women into engineering and football. [1:07:20] Remarks on relations with contractors: HD dealing with managing directors, visiting field staff, discussions over finances; submitting clams a tricky issue; HD managers dealing with most issues with contractors, HD involved when issues escalated into problems; HD managers solving problems, HD only assisting them. [1:10:50] Remarks on: variety of daily work, regular meetings and reviews; level of stress on HD, difficult periods when people were not delivering as planned; HD trying to avoid the public disagreements between management and contractors that had been an issue of Channel Tunnel construction; HD aiming for cooperative approach to problems with contractors; genuine civil engineering problems causing delays; signalling and communications systems raising different problems, large scale of systems making it hard to replace contractors. [1:14:20] Remarks: on life outside work, busy work weeks but trying to attend fitness classes on Friday; HD leaving UK after offer of post in Singapore after Bechtel became involved, Singapore contracts being extended for some years; reflection on Jubilee Line subsequent history; satisfaction of HD work.


    Track 7 [1:18:27] [Session four: 22 February 2018] Remarks on Jubilee Line Extension, design and architecture: design concepts complete when JC joined project; architects hired separately from civil engineers, leading to coordination issues, having single designer co-ordinating others a better arrangement; station design also separated from mechanical and electrical design; London Underground and head architect concept for unique stations designed by individual architects; HD limited involvement with architectural practices; separation of architectural design rather than integrating it with other work causing an elongation of design; ongoing debates on whether architects or engineers should lead projects; functional Hong Kong stations designed by engineers; [04:05] head architect concerned that HD would abandon his design concepts, but further change would have delayed project so kept; architects and engineers becoming increasingly integrated with design process more recently, such as HD experience of working in Singapore; [06:20] HD feelings of responsibility for JLE, feeling fortunate to be asked to work on project, stressful but pinnacle of his career; difficult for HD to leave JLE, but major work substantially complete by time he left; HD turning down another post with London Underground, to work in Singapore, but sorry to leave colleagues. [08:40] Remarks on work for Singapore Mass Rapid Transit: HD previously showing around visitors from Singapore around JLE; HD initially offered 6 month post as assistant to Sripathy, project director of Changi airport extension; HD then offered a 3 year contract, with a 1 year extension, as project director of Circle Line 2 and 3 in their initial design and development stages; HD initial role as advisor-consultant, but also involved with project work; mentions parallel involvement with North East Line; [12:55] HD last task heading group working on concept for Down Town Line; HD return to UK, followed by period back in Singapore in wake of 2004 Nicoll Highway collapse; anecdote about HD returning to Singapore as project director of Circle Line 4 and 5, but leaving after 1.5 years. [15:10] Remarks on HD first periods in Singapore: first six months as senior project manager working with project director; second period as project director, working with integrated design and engineering companies in initial stages of Circle 2 and 3; description of Singapore Metro Circle Line, which linked various existing lines to make them more connected and convenient for commuters; Singapore government ambitious plans to make Metro a popular travel option. [19:40] Remarks on life in Singapore: modern, clean city; more sedate life style than when HD lived in Hong Kong; golfing with colleagues and ex-pats; expense of golf clubs in Singapore due to speculation in memberships, leading to people playing golf in Indonesia or Malaysia instead; colleagues, two from JLE, HD getting on well with local staff. [22:15] Remarks on HD first period in Singapore on Changi line: outline of complicated situation with project management of stations and tunnels, HD resolution of issue; need to build rapport with staff on project, working with them to solve problems; HD role assisting project director; HD job title advisor-consultant, but actually becoming involved with running projects. [26:20] Remarks on HD second period in Singapore, working on initial stages of Circle 2 and 3: signing 3 year contract for new role before end of previous, followed by a 1 year extension, period at home then return after Nicholl Highway; Circle Line starting as Marina Line but developing; working in tight budget, choice of short 3-car trains on economic grounds limiting future growth margins, contrast with JLE being designed for longer trains than it initially ran with; difficulty convincing governments to invest in capacity for future growth of infrastructure and transport systems, with reference to new London sewer systems and HS2 trains; [33:10] HD involvement with Singapore government limited to presentations; [Quote] outline of process leading up to tendering, analysis of likely passenger numbers and need, development of outline of line and its depot and stations, concept design followed by detailed design phase, followed by tendering phase for contractors to build project; Circle Line taking c.10 years to complete in different phases; HD not involved with tendering process. [37:40]Remarks on tendering process: outline of process before tenders were issued; considerations in drawing up tenders, need to have plenty of contractors with the right skills bidding, expense of tendering for contractors casing them to be selective, need to spread commitments between companies; small local contractors in Singapore leading to major contractors from a series of other countries becoming involved; Singapore using older practice of lowest bids winning contracts, move toward projects using different quality to price ratios to evaluate bids. [43:15] Remarks on HD after Nicholl highway collapse: effect of collapse on Circle construction, HD working toward restart of work afterwards; outline of Nichol Highway collapse; development of plan to get project back on track, moving of station and alignment of route; HD leaving roll when plan in place. [47:55] Remarks on HD returning to Singapore in 2006 as Director of Circle Line: expecting to stay to 2009, but leaving after 1.5 years; problems with tunnelling and collapses; good project managers, some from JLE; difficult tunnelling conditions in weathered granite; HD deciding he longer wanted 24/7 responsibility of project, taking break clause in contract to leave after 1.5 years. [51:35] Remarks comparing building an underground railway in London and Singapore: historic nature of London bringing more need to conserve existing buildings, but easy tunnelling in London clay; Singapore having difficult tunnelling conditions but less need to preserve historic buildings; easier to make rapid progress in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew government compared to more consultative political processes in Britain; advantages of an air conditioned subway system in climate of Singapore; importance of mass transit system to life in Hong Kong; need for underground expansion in London to support larger population, impossibility of roads matching capacity of underground. [57:30] Remarks post Singapore work: frustrations of Singapore in lack of skills of subcontractors, satisfactions of working with skilled colleagues; HD offered membership of Crossrail expert panel by Douglas Oakervee when he returned to Britain; HD earlier acting as an ICE examiner in Singapore whilst Oakervee was ICE president; outline of HD work for Crossrail expert panel through design phase; HD joining international board of advisers for Singapore rapid mass transit system; HD becoming non-executive chairman of Laing O'Rourke's railway business for 2 years; joining Crossrail expert panel for construction phase of project. [1:02:40] Remarks on HD involvement with Crossrail expert panel: underground section in London; meetings with consultants during design phase; debate about effectiveness of expert panels; value of expert panels in advising and reassuring staff of major projects; mentions almost being appointed to panel for Copenhagen City Ring; HD work on Crossrail panel connected with technical issues; expert panels needing clear brief from panels; various reasons for expert panels and ways of establishing them; mentions recent advert for Lesotho hydroelectric project panel; HD valuing expert panel that ensured JLE did not effect Big Ben; [1:09:10] loneliness of major project management, panels offering reassurance to project managers from experienced people; mentions Ron Mead acting as experienced as advisor to JLE; clients needing panels to be readily available; panels a form of insurance for client, example of HD recent involvement with Thames Tideway sewer; key issues of Crossrail, particularly use of shotcrete lining, compensation grouting used to safeguard buildings around excavations; panel members developing agreed view between them, difficult judging size of contribution; influence of panels on project. [1:15:45] Remarks on HD membership of Singapore Rapid mass Transit system for 3 years: intensive 10 day visits to Singapore followed by report and presentation to staff and directors; panel subsequent changes; HD satisfaction with project; misfortunes of JLE opening up years of interesting work subsequently for HD in Singapore.


    Track 8 [48:55] Remarks on Laing O'Rourke: HD knowing Ray O'Rourke; Ray O'Rourke asking HD to join company to lead team bidding for Crossrail contracts, but HD already committed to Crossrail as an advisor; HD later joining O'Rourke for two years as non-executive chairman of railway business, bidding for Crossrail work; outline of HD work as non-executive chairman, largely a role as a persuader; O'Rourke mixed success at winning contracts, including some for stations; [04:00] highly competitive process to win contracts, large expense involved, too many companies bidding for projects; low profit margins for contractors, example of recent collapse of Carillion; difficulties and lack of satisfaction of being a non-exec Chairman compared to more hands on roles. [08:45] Remarks on Thames Tideway super sewer: description of sewer and its purpose to carry away London's waste water and sewage in bulk; other cities around world also building deep sewers; depth of sewer; challenges of project; HD a member of small panel advising client on issues as asked, different clients making different uses of panels; [14:30] project in early stages; challenge and risks of projects. [16:25] Remarks on HD involvement with undersea tunnel project linking Lantau airport with Hong Kong–Macau bridge-tunnel; large size of tunnel; HD asked to join group by Professor John Burland; problems of tidal effects causing changes in pressure in undersea tunnels; other Hong Kong schemes using prefabricated tunnel sections sunk into place; HD involvement over several years. [20:15] Remarks on retirement: HD not looking for work but jobs finding him; not wanting to become involved in long term commitments, turning down arbitration role; enjoying involvement with engineering. [21:45] Remarks on diversity of HD career: early career moves intended to develop his expertise and avoid being pigeon holed at work; family circumstances; HD not wanting to remain long term in one company; risks of companies abusing long term members of staff who had few options for moving job, importance of being marketable in career; some people staying in one location for family reasons, but HD preferring to be a free agent. [24:40] Discussion about changes in HD career: development of tunnelling methods over HD career; efforts to increase number of women engineers, moreso in Europe than Asia; increased attention to safety; new techniques making more elaborate tunnel schemes possible; [28:50] challenging business conditions for civil engineering companies in Britain, decline of British companies; international work; outline of older way civil engineering businesses were run and financed; changes in project financing, low profitability making it hard for companies to survive losses on projects, lists recent companies to fall into problems; difficulty judging the future of civil engineering business in Britain, large European companies becoming larger players in British market, difficulty growing British civil engineering companies; [34:30] lists large British consultancy firms of the past, many now taken over by American firms; career prospects of current generation of engineers; state of British engineering firms. [36:40] Remarks on: HD not considering a different career, enjoying industry, work, life style, living in different places; Jubilee Line Extension the most satisfying part of career, scale of engineering challenges such as Westminster Station; HD enjoying delivery of projects, contrast of celebration of riding the first train on an open railway to opening a sewer project. [42:10] Remarks on: issues of building new structures around existing buildings, mentions problems with movement under Courts of Justice in Hong Kong, care taken in tunnelling under historic row houses in Singapore. [45:00] Remarks on interview process: [pause] feeling about interview; thoughts on future listeners, family interest; difficulties for people to understand what civil engineers do.

  • Notes:
    Recording date: 2017-09-12
    Collection title: An Oral History of British Science
    Recording Notes: audio file 8 WAV 24 bit 48 kHz PCM
    Access restrictions: none

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