Department of Engineering / News / Father of modern tunnelling Sir Alan Muir Wood dies at 87

Department of Engineering

Father of modern tunnelling Sir Alan Muir Wood dies at 87

Father of modern tunnelling Sir Alan Muir Wood dies at 87

61159 running light engine near Potters Bar 15 Sept 1962

Sir Alan worked on many of the 20th century's great tunnelling projects, including the Channel Tunnel and the Jubilee Line Extension.

One of ICE's most distinguished presidents and amongst the very greatest civil engineers of his generation. He was a towering figure with a global reputation and he will be sadly missed by very many people all around the world.

Tom Foulkes, ICE Director General

Born on 8 August 1921, he read Mechanical Sciences here at the Department of Engineering, graduating in 1943. He joined the Royal Navy as an engineering officer, serving between 1942 and 1946. He went on to an extremely distinguished career in civil engineering. He was principally engaged in major tunnelling, coastal engineering, energy, road and railway works, and he also produced a large number of scholarly publications in his many fields of interest.

Sir Alan Muir Wood

Upon joining Halcrow, Sir Alan began work on a project he would return to again and again over the next 20 years – the design of the Channel Tunnel.

His name became synonymous with tunnelling, working on South Africa's 80km Orange Fish Tunnel, the Clyde Tunnel, Potters Bar rail tunnel and Heathrow airport cargo tunnel. He also advised on the alignment for the Jubilee Line extension.

He was Senior Partner of Halcrow until his retirement in 1984 and was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in 1977. Following his retirement he remained an extremely active consultant on many tunnelling projects around the world. He was elected the first President of the International Tunnelling Assocation in 1974 and subsequently Honorary Life President. He was an Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse, and in the 1980s was President of the Cambridge University Engineers Association.

ICE director general Tom Foulkes described Muir Wood as: "One of ICE's most distinguished presidents and amongst the very greatest civil engineers of his generation. He was a towering figure with a global reputation and he will be sadly missed by very many people all around the world."

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