Susan Clements pays tribute to her father Leslie, one of the preeminent civil engineers of his generation
Leslie Clements, one of the preeminent civil engineers of his generation, has died aged 90. He was also my father.
After war service in the Royal Navy as a radar officer, Clements worked for the Northern Ireland Civil Service for 25 years. He rose to be in charge of the bridges section and was responsible for many bridges including the first pre-stressed bridge.
Through self-study and examination, he became a chartered engineer and a member of the Institutions of Municipal, Structural and Civil Engineers.
He subsequently became a Fellow of IStructE and ICE, and was active in both Institutions.
In 1973 Clements became deputy chief engineer (bridges) for the Scottish Office. He oversaw the construction of the majority of the 113 bridges on the A9, including the Kessock Bridge near Inverness.
High tender prices led Clements to adopt a design and construct approach which had never been used for a bridge in the UK before, leading him to devise the procedures and contract documentation himself.
His approach was a success, resulting in tenders which were half of the conventional tenders and it was subsequently adopted elsewhere in UK.
His work was recognised publicly and a paper on Kessock Bridge was awarded the ICE Frederick Palmer prize. Much of his success as an engineer was due to his calm, authoritative manner and his intuitive understanding of how structures work.
He always said that he was thankful that so much of his work was enjoyable and intellectually satisfying. His enthusiasm was infectious. I followed my father into civil engineering, and now work for ICE London as a Membership Development Officer hoping to pass on that inspiration to the next generation.