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1978 - 1987


First UK part-time masters course in geotechnical engineering launched at Surrey University.

GLC's 400ha Thamesmead development on land acquired from the Ministry of Defence includes the former Woolwich Arsenal - land of such toxicity that its use for housing required 'large-scale remedial treatment'. Department of Environment sets up Central Unit of Environmental Pollution to oversee the reuse of derelict land.

ICE publishes report on soil-structure interaction.

Debate rages over the role and status of engineering geologists within the civil engineering industry. Professor John Knill comments 'the development of postgraduate courses in engineering geology has assisted in the integration of geologists into the construction industry ... but the 'loner' image of the hirsute geologist with his hammer is too well fixed in many influential minds.'


BGS hosts VII European Conference on Soil Mechanics & Foundation Engineering, with Soilmex 79 exhibition in September.

Dr John Burland appointed assistant director of materials and structures at Building Research Establishment.

The engineering geology/civil engineer debate continues. Professor Edward De Beer writes in Talking Point: 'Too many engineers in soil mechanics play with the most sophisticated apparatus for determining the mechnical characteristsics of small samples without having any knowledge or experience in geology.'

West Group International acquires piling equipment manufacturer Dowsett Piling and Foundations.

Agreement reached for takeover of Colcrete group by Swiss civil engineering firm Losinger. The UK subsidiary, Losinger Systems, merges with Colcrete.

Tarmac National Construction installs its first on-site computer terminal to aid engineers on its £18M three year foundation contract for the second phase of the Drax power station in Yorkshire.

Several members of the Atlas Copco Craelius Board, including the deputy managing director of Atlas Copco, are killed in an air crash in Nice.


Department of Energy funds Britain's first deep exploratory borehole as part of its geothermal energy programme at Marchwood power station near Southampton. The aim is to drill into water bearing rock at depth of around 3,050m, at a cost of £1.8M.

Bauer sets up in the UK offering soil treatment by vibro and dynamic compaction and other specialist contracting activities.

'There is scarcely any time or place on a construction site where it is safe not to wear a safety helmet.' Conclusion of a discussion document by HSE proposing wearing of safety helmets should be a voluntary code of practice with possible legal requirement in the future.

Terrasearch introduces triaxial testing and computerises its laboratory with transducers, data loggers and a Hewlett Packard computer.

Fifty houses in two villages in County Durham damaged by subsidence. Extensive fissures caused walls to crack and gardens and roads to subside. Houses were built on magnesian limestone overlying coal seams mostly worked out in the 19th century although some were mined until 1975. The county council says mining is to blame, NCB blames groundwater.

Expanded Piling takes over Lind Piling, acquiring all plant and a number of senior managers, giving coverage of the south of England and a London office.

Wimpey Laboratories and Soil Mechanics start work on the site investigation for Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk. At £0.4M, the investigation is believed to be the largest of its type. Extensive round the clock work includes core drilling down to 150m and cable tool to 100m.


BS5930 Code of Practice for site investigations in print following draft issue in 1976 for public comment.

Moss develops 3D design package, originally for road design, for modelling waste disposal, land reclamation and hydrographic surveys. Saves up to 15% of earthworks costs and the complete system can be used with any computer, at a cost of £30,000 or £7,500 per year.

Computer controlled soils testing Dataface System 3 package from ELE, using Commodore CBM, costs under £7,000 and is suitable for carrying out QU triaxial and consolidation tests (eight at a time).

Piggot is sinking foundations for the Thames Barrier.

Despite the world recession and the increasing value of the pound, British consulting engineers achieved a 9% increase in the value of overseas work.

EC 7 European Code on Foundations put together as part of the process of creating codes of practice. Committee set up by ISSMFE with a representative from each EU country, with chairman Professor Niels Krebs Ovesen of Denmark and Brian Simpson of Ove Arup & Partners as the British representative.

GKN Keller forms an US subsidiary to market vibroreplacement and vibrocompaction techniques.

ICE Ground Board established after restructuring of learned society activities into seven boards covering the main divisions of civil engineering.


Foundation Engineering forms its new exploration division under contracts manager Bob Skinner. Tony Kent is technical manager.


First drafts of several chapters from Eurocode 7 become available. The arguments begin.

Geotechnical Consultancy Group established in London.

Ground Engineering boasts that it is now using computer word processing instead of hot metal.

Site investigation for the East London River Crossing being carried out by Wimpey Laboratories onshore and Foundation Engineering over water. (The project is never built.)

British Ground Freezing Society formed.

International Geotextiles Society formed in Switzerland.


GE under new company GEO Publications after Foundation Publications ceases trading.

Babtie Geotechnical formed by parent company Babtie Shaw & Morton.

Cementation Construction reorganises a number of divisions, including Cementation Piling & Construction. Within a few months, Cementation Piling & Foundations is formed to combine ground engineering and piling activities.


Joint meeting of British Geotechnical Society and Geological Society Engineering Group debates geotechnical blunders. Discussion centres on the lack of appreciation of engineering by geologists and concludes that it is a lack of adequate communications between geologists and engineers that is often the cause of such blunders.

Foundation & Exploration Services formed following closure of UK site investigation division of Costain Group's Foundation Engineering. Bob Skinner is managing director.

Twelve month pilot scheme run by British Geological Survey on national database of site investigation reports.

David Sherwood appointed manager of Bachy's operations in UK and other English speaking countries.

British Geological Survey celebrates its 150th anniversary and moves to Keyworth.

EDECO acquires Pilcon Engineering from Costain Group.

Cementation Civil & Specialist Holdings acquires Dowsett Engineering Construction.


Colcrete changes its name to GKN Colcrete after being bought by GKN from Losinger. It is incorporated into GKN Foundations Division.

Eurotunnel formed by the Channel Tunnel Group and France Manche.

British Drilling & Freezing Company formed after Bestwood acquires Foraky.

Nirex appoints consultants to assess four sites for possible locations for deep disposal facility of low and medium grade waste.

James Howden wins contract to build two TBMs for the Channel Tunnel from TML.

Tilbury Group acquires West Group International and merges West's Piling and Construction with Dowsett Prepakt to form Westpile.

Management buyout of Soil Instruments and Rock Instruments.


British Geotechnical Society publishes its first directory which provides a guide to geotechnical consultants and contractors, and individual specialists in the UK. BGS membership rises significantly.

Association of Consulting Engineers warns clients to beware of selecting consultants purely on the basis of cost.

First international Young Geotechnical Engineers conference held in Copenhagen.

BS5750 Quality Systems accepted as the basis for ISO9000 series, the international standards for quality systems and management.

McClelland Engineers and Fugro Consultants International merge to form Fugro-McClelland, based in the Netherlands.

SIF Enterprise Bachy acquires the assets of Foundation Engineering (UK) from the Costain Group.

ICOS (Great Britain) office closes and existing contracts handled by Expanded Piling.

Wykeham Farrance Engineering management buyout.

Work starts on Sizewell B, Britain's first pressurised water reactor nuclear power station. Work being carried out by Stent Foundations and Soletanche Enterprise JV.

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