Tuesday 30th August, Ron Ireland’s Job Talk

Raised in Carnoustie on the east coast, when a teenager, Ron’s parents moved to Edinburgh where he completed his schooling at Boroughmuir Senior Secondary. It was there that the careers master (possibly recognising his lack of golfing talent) pointed him in the direction of civil engineering and so off Ron went to Herriot Watt University at a time when the campus was scattered throughout the Old Town. Four years later, after graduating, he began my first job with Crudens.

After a year or so he began to understand a bit more about civil engineering construction and obtained a job in Edinburgh as a junior engineer with Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners, one of the best respected and largest British/ Scottish CE consultants with an international reputation. They had gained renown in this country for their work on the Scottish hydro-schemes

Consulting engineers in these days were still very much of the old school. The senior men still wore pin-stripe suits and were referred to, deferentially, by their initials.


when proper ground investigation does not take place

During that period as a junior engineer with SAGP he worked on many and varied projects such as Foyers hydro-electric scheme on Loch Ness – the last pumped storage scheme constructed in this country. Gibbs carried out the original design of the Kincardine Bridge in the 1930’s. Work which Ron was involved with in the 70’s included general upgrading, strengthening and disabling of the now redundant rotating mechanism since big shipping no longer came this far upstream. Of course this bridge has now been supplemented by the recent so-called Clacks Bridge.

Amusingly Ron said he has the doubtful distinction of having been involved in design and construction of both the first and possibly last sections of Scottish Motorway. This is the Newbridge interchange at the Edinburgh end of the M8 with which people will be familiar in its present-day layout.

Ron then joined Whatlings and for 2 years was a section engineer on the A7 between Galashiels and Selkirk including a new bridge over the Tweed. Unfortunately, they too joined the list of formerly great Scottish and British companies. Around this time, Ron further developed his long held interest in geotechnical engineering – a fancy term for ground engineering, he mused. This is a combination of research, excavation, boring, drilling and geophysical sounding methods the hazards are identified and suitable solutions developed.

Abandoned mineshafts are widespread problems in many areas of lowland Scotland. Not only are these a risk to surface development but also to the investigation process itself as shown by this investigation for new housing development in the Darnley district of Glasgow.



Ron concluded his job talk regarding the much-reported problems of corrosion of the main suspension cables on the Forth Road Bridge. One of the last jobs in which he was involved before retiring was to enable an investigation of these cables where they entered the below-ground anchorages.

Bob Cherry gave the vote of thanks