Ian McDonald Campbell

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Ian McDonald Campbell
Born13 July 1922
Died1 April 1994 (aged 71)
EducationUniversity College London
Spouse(s)Hilda Ann Williams
Parent(s)John Isdale Campbell, MICE
Engineering career
DisciplineCivil, British Railways
InstitutionsInstitution of Civil Engineers (president)
AwardsCommander of the Royal Victorian Order

Ian McDonald Campbell, CVO;[1] BSc; CEng; FICE; FCIT; (13 July 1922 – 1 April 1994) was a British civil engineer and chairman of the Scottish Board of British Railways.

Campbell had a first class Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from University College London and was made a Fellow in 1984.[2][3]

In January 1982 in an article entitled Parker's determined board Michael Baily of The Times described Campbell as: Mr Ian Campbell: aged 59, vice-chairman: career railwayman ; big, blustery, likeable and loyal ; possibly not as tough as he sounds.[4]

Railway career[edit]

He was briefly with the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1942, then after university joined the LNER as a draughtsman in 1947. Within British Railways he progressed to Assistant District Engineer, Sheffield, 1953–57; District Engineer, Kings Cross, 1957–63; Assistant Civil Engineer, Scottish Region, 1963–65; Chief Civil Engineer, Scottish Region, 1965–68; Assistant General Manager London Midland Region, 1968–70; General Manager, Eastern Region, 1970–73; (at some point before 1974 he was one of only two railway managers to spend a year in the US as part of an American post-war management education program);[5] Executive Director (systems & operations), British Rail, 1973–76; British Railways Board Member (engineering & research, chairman of British Rail Engineering Limited, chief executive (from 9 June 1978, taking over from David Bowick) & vice-chairman, (1 March 1980 – 9 January 1982), 1977–87 (appointed 10 January 1977[6] and 11 January 1983 – 10 January 1987); and Chairman of the Scottish Board, 1983–88. Somewhat extraordinarily he died on the same day, 1 April 1994, that BR's railway infrastructure became the responsibility of Railtrack. The bulk of Campbell's time at the top was spent under the chairmanship (1976–83) of Sir Peter Parker.

In an interview recorded on 22 March 2002 Professor Alan Wickens, OBE, FREng, director of BR's research 1971–1984, described Campbell's style: ... he was open-minded and though he was a civil engineer he, he did not … you know, he had no sort of loyalties to a particular kind of engineering or anything like that, he took a broad view, and he was concerned, I think - I’m sure - with the greater good, and he really furthered these projects [ APT [7]], & MAG-LEV ] I’ve been talking about.[8]

Campbell (485885) was also a member of the British Army's Territorial & Army Volunteer Reserve's Engineer and Railway Staff Corps, an unpaid, volunteer unit that provides technical expertise to the armed forces. He was initially a major; his promotion to lieutenant colonel was gazetted on 3 May 1970, to colonel on 1 August 1974.[9][10] and to be Colonel Commanding the Engineer and Railway Staff Corps on 21 July 1981. His supernumeracy to establishment was dated 30 April 1986.

He was a member of the EEC's Economic and Social Committee, 1983–90, and a member of the Noise Advisory Council from 1976-?.

Campbell was a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and was elected the 117th president of the Institution of Civil Engineers for the November 1981–82 session,[11] having been their Vice-President, 1978–81.[2]


Campbell was the elder son of John Isdale Campbell, MICE (1890–1956) by Margaret Stewart (d. 1971) daughter of George Eadie (1852–1935) of Auchterarder. John Isdale Campbell was apprenticed to the Caledonian Railway Company in 1907. He served throughout the First World War, with the Army Service Corps (ASC) and then with one of the Railway Construction Companies of the Corps of Engineers, (having been transferred to the latter and promoted from Corporal to temporary 2nd Lieutenant via acting Sergeant on 16 October 1917).[12] Back home he joined the North British Railway Company (later incorporated into the LNER) in 1919. He rose steadily to become the Chief Civil Engineer, Eastern Region, British Railways (at Kings Cross) in 1948 and thus directed the construction of the renowned trans-Pennine railway tunnel known as the third Woodhead Tunnel, Woodhead 3,[13] 1949–1953. J. I. Campbell and P. A. Scott's paper, Woodhead new tunnel; construction of a three-mile main double-line railway tunnel won the 1954 Crampton Prize, an annual ICE award for the best paper on practical geotechnical engineering. John Campbell had been elected an associate of the ICE in 1921 and was transferred to the list of members in 1947.[14]

Campbell married Hilda Ann Williams, in Swansea 13 April 1946, and had three daughters (Alison, Helen and Christine) and a son (John Campbell). They lived variously in Yorkshire, 222 Marylebone Road, London and at St Fillans, Perthshire. He listed his recreations as golf and music.[15]


  1. ^ https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/47234/supplement/7084/data.pdf (11 June 1977).
  2. ^ a b Watson 1988, p. 254.
  3. ^ Masterton, Gordon (2005), ICE Presidential Address, archived from the original on 3 January 2011, retrieved 24 October 2010
  4. ^ The Times, Friday, 15 January 1982; pg. 2; Issue 61132; col E; Parker's determined board By Michael Baily, Transport Correspondent.
  5. ^ Ian Macdonald Campbell, B.Sc.(Eng.), and Norman John Nicholls, B.Sc. (Eng); RAILWAY CIVIL ENGINEERING IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ICE Proceedings: Engineering Divisions, Volume 3, Issue 3, 1 June 1954, pages 273 – 300, E-ISSN 0534-2767
  6. ^ "No. 47115". The London Gazette. 7 January 1977. p. 227.
  7. ^ The Times, Tuesday, December 8, 1981; A British Rail's new train tops 100 mph (later it limped home); page 24; Issue 61102
  8. ^ Interview with Dr. Wickens
  9. ^ "No. 45191". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 September 1970. p. 10102.
  10. ^ "No. 46464". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 January 1975. p. 522.
  11. ^ The Times, Wednesday, 4 November 1981; pg. 13; Issue 61073; col D (Business Briefing).
  12. ^ London Gazette http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/30397/supplements/12276
  13. ^ The Woodhead Tunnels
  14. ^ ICE Proceedings, Volume 6, Issue 3, 1 March 1957 , page 521. (Obituary of his father, J. I. Campbell)
  15. ^ Who's Who, 1971-1994


  • Watson, Garth (1988), The Civils, Thomas Telford Ltd, ISBN 0-7277-0392-7;
  • Terence Richard (Terry) Gourvish, British Rail: 1974–97: From Integration to Privatisation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002. ISBN 0-19-926909-2. (705 pages);

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Peter Arthur Cox
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
November 1981 – November 1982
Succeeded by
John Vernon Bartlett