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Historical tome puts focus on engineering

ENGINEERING LUMINARIES and their triumphs, stretching back to the late medieval period, have been recaptured by the ICE.

The first volume of the twopart Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers (BDCE1) has now been published. This 944 page epic chronicles the lives, works and careers of engineers between 1500 and 1830.

The editorial team was led by the late Sir Alec Skempton and included ICE members Ron Cox, Peter Cross-Rudkin, Bob Rennison and Ted Ruddock with Head Librarian of the Institution, Mike Chrimes, acting as secretary.

Previous reference works offer a deep resource of architectural knowledge yet only fleeting engineering information. This new book aims to redress the balance and serve as a catalyst for more specific research using local resources.

Cross-Rudkin states: 'No such facility has existed until now for engineering works, but here is a handy source of information about technical innovation, rarity of the works, and importance of the people involved which may help towards more rational decisions on conservation, at least for works to 1830.'

Almost 15% of those featured are not engineers by broad definition, but have still made significant contribution to the industry.

Of special interest to many will be the introductory essay by Skempton that looks at the progress of the profession through the book's date range.

Also included in the mammoth production is a list of wages, costs and salaries converted into modern values.

These reveal that consulting engineers charged up to £840 per day with resident engineers earning £52,000 a year.

Alan Sparks INFOPLUS www. thomastelford. com mike. chrimes@ice. org. uk

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