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Olympic opening ceremony a ‘moment of pride for engineers’

ICE President Richard Coackley last week described the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony as “truly inspirational” and “a moment of pride for civil engineers”.

The much anticipated opening ceremony surprised the engineering community with its acknowledgement of the historical significance of pioneering civil and mechanical engineers.

In the show’s first sequence, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, played by actor Sir Kenneth Branagh, directed Britain’s transformation into an industrial powerhouse.

This included models of Bessemer steam engines and giant 30m factory chimneys rising up from below, inflated by banks of high pressure fans.

The ceremony’s director Danny Boyle spoke of the social progress which accompanied the engineering achievements of this period.

“The Industrial Revolution unleashed tremendous potential and the growth of cities was extraordinary. It led to education, the ability to read and write. We all began here and look where we ended up,” he said.

ICE President Richard Coackley described seeing heavy engineering depicted through art as “truly inspirational”.

“It was a superb portrayal of how Brunel worked with both human and nature’s energy for the benefit of all and also importantly, got across the hard work, toil and risk that our country went to, to give us the global standing we have,” he said. “It was an inspirational message for young people and a real moment of pride for the civil engineering community.”

The show’s organisers worked closely with the stadium design and engineering teams to adapt the arena for their purposes, using the network of steel cables suspended above the stage to stabilise the giant chimneys.
In the finale, hundreds of those involved in the Olympic construction project formed a guard of honour as Sir Steve Redgrave carried the torch into the stadium they had helped build.

  • View a special film produced by ICE London and the Olympic Delivery Authority, which features interviews with the key engineers involved in the design and construction of the Olympic Park as well as unique time lapse footage and fly throughs at
  • Costain Olympic bloggers Fiona Dixon and Ian McMillan have been busy this week at the One Great George Street London 2012 Media Centre (NCE 26 July to 2 August). Visit to find out more.

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