Harold Harding

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Harold Harding
Born 6 January 1900
Wandsworth, London
Died 27 March 1986(1986-03-27) (aged 86)
Topsham, Devon
Nationality English
Education City and Guilds College
Spouse(s) Sophie Blair
Children Two sons and a daughter
Engineering career
Engineering discipline Civil
Institution memberships Institution of Civil Engineers (president),
British Tunnelling Society (chairman)
Fellowship of Engineering (fellow)
City and Guilds of London Institute (fellow)
Imperial College London (fellow)
Practice name Mowlem, Soil Mechanics Ltd
Significant projects Piccadilly Circus tube station, Central line

Sir Harold John Boyer Harding (6 January 1900 – 27 March 1986) was a British civil engineer.[1] Harding was educated at Christ's Hospital and the City and Guilds College (part of Imperial College London), interrupting his studies with a one-year period spent as a cadet in the Officers' Training Corps. Following graduation Harding worked for Mowlem where he specialised in work for London Underground including the reconstruction of Piccadilly Circus tube station and the expansion of the Central line.

Upon the outbreak of the Second World War Harding was placed in charge of the defence and emergency repair of underground services in London. He also built pre-cast concrete petrol barges and eight of the Mulberry Harbour segments used in the Normandy Landings. He also founded Soil Mechanics Ltd, a subsidiary of Mowlem dedicated to work in geotechnics. After the war Harding was involved with investigations into the construction of the Channel Tunnel and into the Aberfan disaster.

Harding was elected president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the first chairman of the British Tunnelling Society, fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute and fellow of Imperial College. He was also a founder fellow of the Fellowship of Engineering and governor of three separate academic institutions: Westminster Technical College. Northampton Engineering College, and Imperial College. He received a knighthood in 1968.

Early life

Harding was born in Wandsworth, London to Arthur Boyer Harding and his wife Helen Clinton. His father died in 1902 and Harold was educated at his uncle's expense at Christ's Hospital and entered the City and Guilds College (a part of Imperial College London) in 1917. He served as a full-time Officers' Training Corps cadet in 1918 before resuming his studies in 1919. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering in 1922.[1]

Work with Mowlem

Upon graduation Harding joined John Mowlem & Co., an engineering contractor, where he worked on the development of the London Underground network including the reconstruction of the Piccadilly Circus tube station from 1926–9. In 1927 he married Sophie Helen Blair, an artist with whom he had constructed a model of the Piccadilly works for the Science Museum and the London Transport Museum and the daughter of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edmund Leighton. They had two sons and a daughter.[1] During this period Harding was the first to employ the technique of dewatering of soil in the UK and the first to use the Joosten process of stabilisation by two part chemical injection.[2]

In 1931 Harding worked on the construction of the new Ford Motor Company plant at Dagenham. Major foundation problems had to be overcome during the works as the plant was sited on the spot where Cornelius Vermuyden had closed a breach in the Thames in 1621–2. From this experience Harding developed an interest in chemical consolidation techniques and was a pioneer in their use. He was in charge of the 1936–9 extension of the London Underground's Central line from Bow Road tube station to Leytonstone.[1]

World War two

Following the outbreak of the Second World War Harding was placed in charge of the defence and emergency repair of underground services in London. In 1942 he founded Soil Mechanics Ltd, a subsidiary of Mowlem which was concerned with geotechnics. From 1943–4 Harding was involved with the pre-casting of concrete and built several petrol barges and eight of the Mulberry Harbour segments which were used in the Normandy Landings.[1]

Post-war

After the war Harding was increasingly involved with the management of Soil Mechanics Ltd and served as a director of it from 1949–55 and also as a director of Mowlem from 1950–6. Following this he worked with the company as a consultant and arbitrator until 1978. He was a joint consultant from 1958 to 1970 of the Channel Tunnel study group which eventually resulted in the tunnel's construction in 1988–94. From 1966–7 Harding was also a member of the Aberfan disaster tribunal, chaired by Lord Justice Edmund Davies, which investigated the rotational slip of a slag heap in South Wales which caused 144 deaths.[1] Harding died at Topsham, Devon on 27 March 1986.[1]

Institutions and awards

Harding served as president of the Institution of Civil Engineers from November 1963 to November 1964.[3] He was also the first chairman of the British Tunnelling Society from 1971–3 and was a founder fellow of the Fellowship of Engineering in 1976. Harding was elected a fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute in 1952 and of Imperial College in 1968.[1] He also received a knighthood on 13 February 1968 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree from City University London in 1970.[4] Harding served as a governor of three separate academic institutions, Westminster Technical College from 1948–53; Northampton Engineering College from 1950–53, and Imperial College from 1955–75.[1]

Legacy

The National Archives holds some of Harding's personal papers dated 1926–1986 which relate to Picadilly Circus and the Channel Tunnel.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Wood, Alan Muir (2004). "'Harding, Sir Harold John Boyer (1900–1986)'". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40053. Retrieved 7 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. British Tunnelling Society 2000 Harold Harding Lecture[dead link]
  3. Watson, Garth (1988). The Civils. Thomas Telford. p. 253. ISBN 0-7277-0392-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. The London Gazette: no. 44527. pp. 1947–1948. 26 February 1968. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  5. National Archives holdings


Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Reginald William Mountain
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
November 1963 – November 1964
Succeeded by
Robert Wynne-Edwards