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Research response

Four decades ago, the Government of the time gave notice to the construction industry that it was no longer prepared to fund civil engineering research on its own. Although the ICE's research committee occasionally raised money for specific projects, industry as a whole traditionally invested very little in research, and the Government saw no reason why this one- sided state of affairs should continue.

Reaction to this warning was swift and positive. By 1960 a consortium of the ICE , the then Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, the Association of Consulting Engineers and the long-forgotten Department of Scientific & Industrial Research had set up the Civil Engineering Research Council. Chaired by the then ICE President Sir Herbert Manzoni and based in Great George Street, CERC's research function was discharged by the ICE's existing research committee.

Four years later the CERC was incorporated as the Civil Engineering Research Association. Later in the same decade the Ministry of Public Building & Works lobbied the infant Ministry of Technology for a Building Research & Information Association directly funded by a levy on industry, a suggestion that was not well received by Government.

Instead, CERA was encouraged to extend its scope and become the all- embracing Construction Industry Research & Information Association, a private company limited by guarantee and funded entirely by voluntary contributions. CIRIA's formal incorporation took place on 28 April 1967, by which time the organisation was ensconced in new offices around the corner from the ICE. It has remained there ever since.

Manzoni was succeeded as chairman in 1970 by Dr Oleg Kerensky, who served CIRIA in a variety of roles for 14 years. Many of the great names of the construction industry, and most ICE presidents, have sat on CIRIA's council or served on its various committees. Since July this year CIRIA's president is Terry Rochester of the Construction Clients Forum.

Vice presidents are Ted Chaplin of Tarmac, Roger Sainsbury of ICE and Peter Head of Maunsell. Chairman is Kay Johnson of Amec, and among the 13 other council members are three government nominees representing the Health & Safety Executive, Highways Agency and the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions.

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