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Peter Robinson: A Life in Engineering (Tees Viaduct to Saudi Arabia and back).

Peter Robinson was educated at Sutton Coldfield Grammar School and Edinburgh University and has worked as a civil engineer for forty years. Currently he is Senior Planning Engineer with BAM Nuttall.

Civil engineering has been around for a long time such as the Pyramids (3rd century BC), the

Parthenon, the Appenine Way and the Great Wall of China to mention just a few examples. An

outstanding construction is the Pont du Gard built in the 1st century by the Romans as part of a system, mainly underground, to bring 44m gallons of water per day from a source 30 miles away to N¯mes. This magnificent aqueduct was constructed from limestone skilfully put together without the use of mortar and still stands today in all its glory.

With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution many engineers became famous. James Brindley in1761 started construction of 360 miles of canals such as the Bridgewater and Trent and Mersey canals. John Smeaton was the first to use the title ‘civil engineer’ to distinguish his projects from those that were carried out by the military. He designed the 3rd Edison lighthouse which stood for 120 years before erosion of the rocks rendered the structure unstable. His legacy includes the Calder and Hebble Navigation, the Perth Bridge over the Tay and Ramsgate Harbour. Thomas Telford, the first president of the Institute of Civil Engineers, built the Caledonian Canal and St Katharine’s Docks. Isombard Kingdom Brunel was the creator of God’s Wonderful Railway (GWR), the 2 mile long Box Hill Tunnel and the first iron-hulled ship, SS Great Britain. Possibly, though, one of the greatest contributions came from Joseph Bazalgette who, after the ‘Great Stink‘ from the Thames in 1858, was responsible for the design of the London sewage system. The ‘stink’ had been deemed to be the cause of cholera in the city and money was no object in ridding London of this nauseating nuisance. 1100 miles of intercept sewers were constructed together with 1100 miles of street sewers. This sewer system survives to this day. In Newcastle, Robert Stephenson, son of George, opened the first locomotive works and he was involved in the construction of the High Level Bridge over the Tyne and the Britannia Bridge in North Wales.

Peter Robinson’s personal career stretches over 40 years and has embraced local and international  

projects. After university his first assignment was working on a viaduct in Birmingham for 6 months, then to Glasgow as site engineer for the Erskine Bridge interchange and back to London to work on the design of Bristol Parkway. Two years later he was living locally in Teesside working on the Tees Viaduct and the Portrack roundabout followed by project and planning work at Port Clarence and Darlington. The next phase of his career was as Chief Engineer in Riyadh redesigning and installing a major sewer system, followed by a bridge project in the Emirates. On his return to the UK, he was involved with the preparation of tenders and planning for Blaydon Bridge, repairs of the Tees Viaduct, Tinsley Viaduct maintenance, motorway links at Leeds, docks and harbour construction on the River Humber, coastal protection at Scarborough and replacement of the Surtees Bridge. His next job is the planning of a managed motorway cheme for the M62 to make use of the hard shoulder to relieve congestion.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Dick Hawkins.