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2021 NEWS

2022 NEWS

 

2023 NEWS

1 Jan. Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year, and I am looking forward to meeting up with some of those I met in Italy for the first time last year, plus visits to Ireland and Malta.

3 Jan. A talk has been confirmed at the U3a Book Club in Deal in October

8 Jan. Invited to have a stand at the 2023 British Gliding Association Exhibition at Loughborough University 25 Feb. Books will be sold plus a talk on Captain Frank Foster. A pull-up banner has been ordered, so you can’t miss the stand !

26 Jan. 60No USBs to commemorate the gathering in Nettuno on 22 October 2022 have been delivered, and the first batch has been dispatched for those overseas.  Luckily we have a traveller going to South Africa on 30 Jan who will meet up with Carol Clifford at Jo’berg, Gerald Cubitt in Cape Town and Charm Hawkes in Plattenberg Bay. Australia and St Kitts is going to take a little longer.

27 Jan. Remaining USBs have been sent to UK and those to Ireland have gone via Northern Ireland which should be quicker! There are less than ten left so any new orders will have to be quick!

25 Feb. Many thanks to Deborah Siggerly and Fiona Ritchie for helping make the stand at the BGA Exhibition at Loughborough University a great success. And of course thanks to Terry Bannon who designed it! The stand attracted attention to the book throughout the day including from members of the Women’s British Gliding Team, and sales were boosted. We also met 91-years-old Tom Doherty who has been flying for 75 years, and remembered Frank Foster from 1956 when he won a Gold Medal at the World Championships in France, and was in the same club at Dunstable. He also remembered Frank’s daughter Carol who is now living in South Africa.

26 Feb.  An excellent interview with Terry Bannon was published in the Sunday Independent in Dublin. He was interviewed by Fiona O’Connell, a journalist with the paper and full details can be seen in the Reviews section of this website and at Sunday Independent 26/02/2023

15 March. After the BGA Exhibition, AFE a company that was exhibiting there has agreed to put the book on their website. They are based in Manchester with outlets in Oxford and London.

31 March. St Kitts memory stick has finally arrived after six weeks on the road.

3 April. Another talk has been confirmed in Henley in June for the British Legion Club one week after the talk to the Phyllis Society.

NEXT BOOK! Memoirs of the Thames Barrier 

 

5 April.  I can now confirm my next book will be my memoirs on the Thames Barrier from 1975-1980 when I was working there with Costain. This company is one of the few blue chip contractors still surviving from that era, and has expanded to be one of the top five multi-discipline contractors in the UK. The name of the book is still to be decided

11 April. I have started contacting some old friends from Costain, the consultant Rendel Palmer and Tritton (RPT) , now part of High-Point Rendel, and the barrier gate contractor Cleveland Bridge (sadly closed down last year), and some interesting feedback is already trickling back. I can see a lot of work ahead!

27 April. I received an article about Charlie Draper who worked for RPT and was the inventor of the mechanism of the barrier gates. He was a senior engineer and a very interesting character that has had very little mention in the past. I can see the scope of the book already expanding.

31 May. More recollections have been coming in from as far as Hong Kong, please keep them coming. I already have several meetings set up in London and Henley and during the visit for two talks on The Flight of the Arctic Fox, and more to come over the next six months. 

6 June. I met one of librarians at The Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster in London, to go through the archives for articles on The Thames Barrier. Not as much as I hoped, but there were some which went back to meetings held in 1907 with early discussions on a barrier.  It shows there is still a lot out there in Company archives and boxes in attics.

20 June. After giving a talk on the Arctic Fox at the Royal British Legion at Henley, which was very well received, I was talking to one of the ladies present who said her husband was working on the barges bringing  down the massive Barrier gates, weighing up to 10,000t, from Darlington to London. I will be in contact.

21 June. I met up with Alistair Handford near Henley, a civil engineer who I worked with on the Barrier between 1976 - 80. He had several boxes of mementoes and promises more.

2 July. I met with Sam Cornberg at the Greenwich Yacht Club, another young civil engineer in 1976. He had more tales to tell, and after lunch we paid a visit to the Barrier, which was the first time we had back together since 1980.

20 July. A further meeting with Alistair Handford and joined Paul Sivey for lunch, who was a senior engineer on the North Bank of the barrier. He stayed with Costain and worked with them for many years. More tales I had not heard before.

27 July. I received more detailed information on the cargo ship that rammed the north dry dock cofferdam on 11th November 1978. It was totally different to the original account I had originally found.

28 July. I have tracked down the name of the worker who died during the first sill tow out in August 1978. He was Edgar McGuiness aged 56 from Wateringbury near Maidstone. 

15 Aug. First talk on the barrier booked for 3 April 2024 with U3a in Deal.

31 Aug. I have made a good start on the draft for the first six chapters. I aim to get the skeleton of the book laid down and build up as more information comes in. 

19 Sep. I have been researching the history of Pier 7 as it is the only Pier situated on a minor fault. After dewatering, a crack appeared along the top of the underwater concrete and major remedial works was required. More feedback coming from Bill Reynolds who was with RPT who will be meeting up with some of the original designers soon.

30 Sep. Another good month with the first draft and have reached Chapter 9 with nearly 30,000 words. 

 9  Oct. The Rotary Club in Canterbury have invited me to talk on the barrier on 25 March 2024

12 Oct. Further feedback from Bill Reynolds, who has made contact with the Chief Engineer, Alan Mitchell responsible for the design of the piers and sills. Hoping to make contact.

22 Oct. Today we remember all those that we lost at Nettuno 65 years ago.

26 Oct. Very good Meeting with Alan Mitchell (aged 90) and Bill Reynolds in Petts Wood. Many tales of the Barrier and good photos.

29 Oct. Excellent meeting with Phil Grice, the son of the Project Manager of CTH who died twenty years ago. Many photos and memorabilia handed over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Nov. Our good friend Massimo sent us a photo from Nettuno where he, Colonel Dario Porfidia and personnel from the Poligono (Army Base) paid a visit to the memorial on All Souls Day to place some flowers and say a prayer for our relatives. 

14 Nov. Meeting in Marlow with Peter Blaseby, Alistair Handford and Richard Bayfield who were all engineers who all worked on the Barrier between 1975-82.

25 Nov. GEORGE LUXTON RELATIVE FOUND!  I received an email from Eleanor Webb distant relative of George Luxton. Eleanor to send photos and more information., and to arrange a meeting in the new year

28 Nov.  Good Telephone call with Warren Hibbs, the marine manager on the barrier from 1976-82. More information being sent 

1 Dec. Editing started on Ch1 and 2 and still aiming to finish text by mid-Jan. 36,000 words complete

7 Dec. Made contact with Bob Napthine who was the chief engineer for CTH on barrier 1974-76 and worked on the Tender.

18 Dec. Researching to get details of the CTH women engineers who worked on the barrier.

 

2024

1 Jan.  Title of the new book is decided. It will be WE GAVE A DAM. 

8 Jan. Comments received form AH on chapters 1-8.

12 Jan. First Comments received for Warren Hibbs and Rick Randall on sill towing and lowering. 

23 Jan. Meeting with Bob Napthine at his home in Maidstone. He worked with Costain on the barrier for a year on the Tender then on site from 1974-76. Became Chief Engineering manager for Costain International and on the Tender and on site on the Channel Tunnel until 1994.

30 Jan. There will be 32 pages of photos and drawings in the book. Much work to do.

5 Feb. Epilogue complete.

14 Feb. First draft of book cover received from Terry Bannon.

20 Feb. Made contact with Adrian Franklin, The surviving CTH Project Manager.

21 Feb. Received details of George Davies the ER on barrier site for RPT.

26 Feb. First edit completed for Chapters 1-10.  45,000 words complete. 

27 Feb. Meeting with Adrian Franklin at his home in West Byfleet.

10 Mar. First draft of the text completed and list of Plates nearly there – there will be 32pp

18 Mar. Typesetting ongoing. 

21 Mar. Typesetting draft finished out for checking. Final checks on plates.

25 Mar. First Barrier Talk at Forest of Blean Rotary Club. Approx 40 guests, introduced by

Les Leslie. Well received.

26 Mar. New Civil Engineer magazine interested in an interview and possible podcast.

28 Mar. Final text checks and typesetting completed. Many thanks to Terry Bannon,

Charlotte Mournsey and Russell Kilmister. Order placed for printers. 

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