Abstract

The paper presents an account of the role played by Rudolph Glossop in the early development of geotechnical engineering and engineering geology within the UK. The hitherto unexplored Glossop Archive at Sheffield University has revealed documents covering the evolution of both disciplines including a business plan of 1939 that defined the objectives of Soil Mechanics Limited, the UK's first geotechnical company. The archive also contains substantial journals providing a fascinating account of business visits to overseas locations in Glossop's role as a main board director of the contractor John Mowlem & Co. Ltd. An unpublished personal journal has allowed a more complete understanding of Glossop's wartime role in London Docks in the construction of units for the Mulberry Harbour, a key factor in the success of the D-day landings in northern France in June 1944. The longstanding friendship with Alec Skempton and his admiration of the work of Karl Terzaghi were important factors in the development of Glossop's approach to the new discipline that he termed ‘Geotechnology’. This vision of the integrated business model for geotechnical contractors was to last until the 1980s and his commitment to the unified approach of soil mechanics, engineering geology and foundation engineering continues to remain the bedrock of many of the major UK consultancy practices. His belief in the importance of sharing knowledge is exemplified by his role in establishing the journals Géotechnique and the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology (QJEG) and his wide range of publications including important contributions on the history of the profession. On the thirtieth anniversary of the QJEG the engineering group of the Geological Society marked the contribution of Rudolph Glossop by establishing the prestigious Glossop Lecture and Award.

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