the rail engineer • February 2014
Tales of the
he annual Foot in Mouth Award - yes, there really is such a thing - is bestowed on the public figure who utters the year’s most bewildering sound bite. UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom triumphed effortlessly in 2013, offending most of the developing world and all of womankind in just half-a-dozen choice phrases.
And with that convoluted preamble, so ends my pitch for the 2014 Award.
Movers and shakers Opened in July 1885, the snappilytitled Hull Barnsley & West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company aimed to smash the monopolistic dominance of the North Eastern Railway which controlled every train heading into Hull. Congestion was stifling prosperity and local businessfolk were up in arms about it. The solution, engineered by William Shelford, involved driving a railway through the Wolds to link Yorkshire’s coalfields with a new deep water dock on the Humber’s north bank.
An unlikely previous recipient was former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld who generally enjoyed a favourable reputation for his media performances. He was, though, occasionally prone to a touch of the John Prescotts, as evidenced by his notorious briefing on Iraq’s weaponry in 2002: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Tortuous perhaps, but those words will resonate with any engineer whose carefully planned works have been undone with spanners thanks to voids in their knowledge, amongst them the team charged with replacing Spring Bank West bridge in Prescott’s political home of Hull.
(Above) Service diversions and soil nail grout loss brought significant delay to the programme. (Below) The original bridge with its vulnerable support columns.