British Tunnelling Society

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British Tunnelling Society
British Tunnelling Society.png
Associated Society of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Established 1971
Type Civil Engineering professional association
Headquarters One Great George Street, London, UK
Region United Kingdom
Fields Tunnel-related matters
Affiliation Institution of Civil Engineers
Membership 800 individual members
(as of 2016)[1]
Sub-group BTS Young Members
Key people Mark Leggett (BTS Chairman) Emma Hale (BTSYM Chair)

National Tunnelling Day

Next National Tunnelling Day 7 December 2017

The British Tunnelling Society (BTS) was established in London, UK, in 1971 by tunnelling professionals. The BTS is a learned society of the Institution of Civil Engineers, its mission being to provide a forum for meetings and discussion on tunnel-related matters.

The BTS was a key player in the founding of the International Tunnelling Association (ITA)[2] in 1974 and represents the UK on its General Assembly. It also maintains a leading role in the development of the tunnelling industry whilst promoting safe, efficient, sustainable, and technically advanced design, construction and use of underground space.

In 2016, the BTS had nearly 800 members[3] making it one of the largest and most active associated societies of ICE, with members under 35 years of age represented by British Tunnelling Society Young Members (BTSYM). The current chairman of the BTS, Mark Leggett, assumed the position in May 2016


The BTS provides a forum for meetings and discussion on tunnel-related matters, the BTS also publishes industry guidelines and codes of practice; conducts training courses to advance the education of tunnelling professionals; actively supports the recruitment of young people to the industry; acknowledges excellence in tunnelling; sponsors and supports industry conferences; and advises Government and the general public on the art and science of tunnelling.

BTS Evening Meetings & Conference[edit]

The British Tunnelling Society holds evening meetings (generally) on every third Thursday of the month,[4] from September to June, at the Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street in London. The evening meetings start with a lecture and includes a period of audience questions and answers. With networking continuing in the bar afterwards, this makes it one of the busiest nights of the month. Each meeting is also streamed live on the internet and a recording is also available on the BTS website for later replay.

The BTS also organises the BTS Conference & Exhibition[5] and Harding Memorial Lecture[6] every second year. Named after Sir Harold Harding – the found of the society - the latter, is delivered by an eminent speaker who presents a lecture on their specialist, tunnelling related subject. Some notable presenters of the Harding Memorial Lecture include Sir Alan Muir Wood, Prof. Lord Robert Mair and Dr Barry New.

Links with Government[edit]

The BTS alongside the Institution of Civil Engineers, takes an active role in promoting the tunnelling industry and sustainable infrastructure to Government and Parliamentarians.[7] This is achieved through the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI), and communications with Whitehall, including HM Treasury, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure provides a platform, and is supplemented by writing to Ministers on issues of concern and by the personal engagement of some of our Members on Parliament-related business.

The BTS has contributed to Whitehall initiatives to review the cost of infrastructure and the efficiency of procurement. This leads into our constant message to the Government; a cry for a planned sustained tunnelling workload to exploit and retain our world-class resources.

Education & Training[edit]

The BTS runs and sponsors various training courses through the year with the aim to spread knowledge amongst its members whilst aiding the education of the next generation of tunnellers. At present, the BTS runs two training courses[8] – a 2 day long Underground Health & Safety Course and a 5 day long Tunnel Design & Construction Course – held once every year.

Additionally, the BTS supports the MSc in Tunnelling and Underground Space[9] at The University of Warwick, by advising on the course structure and facilitating lecturers from industry for many modules.

Awards & Prizes[edit]

The BTS awards the James Clarke Medal and Harding Prize annually to recognise the achievements of both eminent and young tunnellers respectively.

Harding Prize[edit]

Named in honour of Sir Harold, The Harding Prize is awarded each year in April.[10] The entry to the award consists of an original paper relating to any aspect of tunnelling which the entrant considers to be of interest to others in the tunnelling industry and is open to those aged 33 or younger on 1 January of the same year. The papers are then reviewed by a group of BTS committee members and the writers of selected papers are invited to make an oral presentation to the April BTS meeting. The winner is decided by members of the BTS Committee.

The James Clark Medal[edit]

The medal is named in honour of James Clark who worked for Charles Brand and Sons on many well-known tunnels, and died in his early 60s. In 1981 his wife, Madeline, bequeathed a sum of money to provide a medal to be awarded annually to a British Tunneller to perpetuate James' memory. The original criteria were: contemporary achievement in tunnelling; or innovation or responsibility for a large project. In the mid 1980s the medal was not awarded, and with Madeline's approval a third criteria was added: a major contribution to the tunnelling industry. The James Clark Medal is the highest honour awarded by The British Tunnelling Society and has been awarded to,[11]

James Clark Medal (front & rear)
  • 2016 - Alan Runacres
  • 2015 - Doug Allenby
  • 2014 - Peter Jaques
  • 2013 - Andy Sindall
  • 2012 - David Court
  • 2011 - Terry Mellors
  • 2010 - Martin Knights
  • 2009 - Donald Lamont MBE
  • 2008 - Jack Knight
  • 2007 - Tommy Talbot
  • 2006 - Alan Dyke
  • 2005 - Maurice Gooderham
  • 2004 - Rodney Craig
  • 2003 - James Buchanan
  • 2002 - Dennis Walder
  • 2001 - David C Wallis
  • 2000 - Denis S Lawrenson
  • 1999 - Colin N P Mackenzie
  • 1998 - Dr Myles O'Reilly
  • 1997 - Gerard Pakes
  • 1996 - Hugh Docherty
  • 1995 - Dick Watts
  • 1994 - John Bartlett OBE
  • 1994 - Sir Alan Muir Wood
  • 1993 - R Remington
  • 1992 - Oliver M Bevan
  • 1991 - Alastair J Biggart
  • 1991- John King
  • 1991 - Colin J Kirkland
  • 1990 - David Martin
  • 1989 - R J S McBean
  • 1988 - Gordon Ince
  • 1985/86/87 Not Awarded
  • 1984 - K H Moore
  • 1983 - David A Harries, A C Lyons
  • 1982 - J Sheridan
  • 1981 - E Whyte


Over the years, The BTS and its Working Groups have published, or collaborated with others to publish, numerous best practice and other guides. These publications include,[12]

  • Traditional Timbering in Soft Ground Tunnelling : A Historical Review (2014)
  • Monitoring Underground Construction: A best practice guide (2011)
  • The Specification for Tunnelling ( 2010)
  • The Tunnel Lining Design Guide (2004)
  • The Closed-face tunnelling machines and ground stability report (2005)
  • Joint Code of Practice for Risk Management of Tunnel Works in the UK (2003)
  • Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) : A Guide to Good Practice (2006)
  • Occupational Exposure to Nitrogen Monoxide : Best Practice Guide (2008)
  • A Guide to the Work in Compressed Air Regulations (1996)
  • Guidance for good working practice in high pressure compressed air (2015)

The BTS has also actively participated in the production or revision of a number of key standards for the tunnelling industry:[13]

  • BS6164: Code of Practice for Health & Safety in Tunnelling
  • BS EN 815: Safety of unshielded tunnel boring machines and rodless shaft boring machines for rock.
  • BS EN 12110: Tunnelling machines Air locks Safety requirements
  • BS EN 12111: Tunnelling machines Road headers, continuous miners and impact rippers Safety requirements.
  • BS EN 12336: Tunnelling machines Shield machines, thrust boring machines, auger boring machines, lining erection equipment Safety requirements

Many of these publications are available for free download on the BTS website,[14] which also contains links to tunnelling videos, safety videos, a UK tunnels database, and a substantial recommended reading list.

Former BTS Chairmen[edit]

  • Sir Harold Harding (1971–1973)
  • Sir Alan Muir Wood (1972–1973)
  • Douglas Parkes (1973–1974)
  • Sir Alan Muir Wood (1975–1976)
  • John King (1976–1977)
  • John Bartlett (1977–1979)
  • Douglas Parkes (1979–1981)
  • Oliver Bevan (1981–1983)
  • Steven Tough (1983–1985)
  • Colin Kirkland (1985–1987)
  • David Donaldson (1987–1989)
  • Dr Terry Mellors (1989–1991)
  • Roy Jennion (1991–1993)
  • Colin Mackenzie (1993–1995)
  • David Fawcett (1995–1997)
  • Eric Snowdon (1997–1999)
  • David Wallis (1999–2000)
  • Peter South (2000–2002)
  • Anthony Umney (2002–2004)
  • David Court (2004–2006)
  • Bill Grose (2006–2008)
  • Paul Hoyland (2008–2010)
  • Robert Ibell (2010–2012)
  • Damian McGirr (2012–2014)
  • Roger Bridge (2014–2016)

National Tunnelling Day[edit]

The British Tunnelling Society (BTS) announced the UK's first National Tunnelling Day[15] to take place on Thursday, 3 December 2015. The aim of the day is to generate interest in the great number of world class tunnelling projects currently being undertaken in the UK and to promote the industry (and its many professions) to young people and students of all ages. The day will be an annual event on the first Thursday of December chosen due to its proximity of the Feast Day of St. Barbara, traditionally seen as the Patron Saint of Tunnellers in the UK.Thus, National Tunnelling Day in 2016 will be observed on 1 December.

Dates of National Tunnelling Day[edit]

  • 2015 — 3 December 2015
  • 2016 — 1 December 2016
  • 2017 — 7 December 2017

BTS Young Members[edit]

The British Tunnelling Society Young Members BTSYM was formed in London 2008 as a sub group under the main society. It was formed under the direction of the BTS Main committee as a way to promote the tunnelling industry and provide guidance for young engineers under the age of the 35.[16]

  • In 2008 there were 24 young members on the committee from 12 different companies;
  • In 2009 there were 40 young members on the committee from wider number companies.

Since 2008 under the founding directive from the main society the BTSYM committee set up four distinct groups: Management, Schools and Universities, Professional Development and Media.


The aim of the management group is to co-ordinate all of the BTS Young Members work. The Chair of this group also sits on the BTS committee and reports on the progress of the BTS Young members, and is responsible for monitoring the progress of the committees work against the allocated funding.

Schools and Universities[edit]

The aim of this group is go out to school's and Universities to raise the profile of tunnel engineering. The group provides support to the MSc in Tunnelling & Underground Space at the University of Warwick. The Group provide's School events, University events and Networking event's around the UK to introduce new students and graduates to the world of tunnelling.

Professional Development[edit]

The aim of this group is to assist young graduate engineers in acquiring wider knowledge and skill bases, that are required to become a competent engineer, in accordance with the Institution of Civil Engineers. This is accomplished through providing site visits and presentation as well as assistance on the BTS Tunnel Design & Construction Course and the BTS Underground Health and Safety Course.

In addition to above there are monthly events held at the ICE, London, which are open for all who have an interest in engineering to attend.


The media group is responsible for promoting the tunnelling industry through the following media forms:

  • Distribution of information and events via the mailing list
  • Maintaining and updating the BTSYM website
  • Producing newsletter
  • Organising social events
  • Liaising with the industry press
  • Updating the BTSYM Facebook page

Former BTSYM Chairs[edit]

  • Kate Cooksey (2008–2010)
  • Anita Wu (2010–2011)
  • Tom Kavanagh (2011–2012)
  • Petr Salak (2012–2013)
  • Joanne Sui (2013–2014)
  • Eoin O Murchu (2014–2015)
  • Mateusz Wojtasik (2015–2016)


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′04″N 0°07′44″W / 51.5011°N 0.1290°W / 51.5011; -0.1290