ICE Smeaton Lecture 2017, London

18 July, 2017 | 18:00 - 20:00

Thames Tunnel
Thames Tunnel

About this event

Online registration is now closed. The lecture will also be available to watch online via this link

The lecture will describe Marc Brunel's pioneering idea of a moveable shield for tunnelling through soft ground, and the heroic construction of the Thames Tunnel, the first civil engineering project on which his son I K Brunel worked.  The lecture will also describe the latest tunnelling technology applied in the Crossrail project with 21 kilometres of sub-surface twin bore tunnels and 8 new sub-surface stations, focusing on the importance of geology and recent innovations.

Important questions will be discussed, such as whether buildings above will be damaged by subsidence, how they can be protected and how existing underground infrastructure might be affected by new tunnel construction.  Recent research advances and innovations will be described, including novel techniques for monitoring construction and whole-life performance using fibre optic technology and wireless sensor networks.

Join us on 18 July to hear Professor Lord Robert Mair cover the history of the Thames Tunnel construction, the techniques that were utilised and how these translate into modern tunnelling, with a view to the future.


18:15 Registration and refreshments
18:45 Welcome from the Chair – Professor Tim Broyd, President, ICE
18.50 Presentation – Professor Lord Mair, Senior Vice President, ICE
19:35 Questions and answers
19:55 Vote of thanks – Fred Crawford, President, Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers
20:00 Close of lecture

Smeaton Lecture Dinner 

The lecture will be followed by a dinner in the Infrastructure Learning Hub.  The lecture is free to attend and the registration cost for the dinner is £50+VAT. As seating capacity is very limited, reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Please ensure you reserve your seat at

Discounted Accommodation

In order to assist conference attendees in booking their accommodation, the Institution of Civil Engineers has negotiated preferential hotel accommodation rates for all attendees and their guests.

To take advantage of this offer visit the website or contact The Corporate Team, quoting ID number 10198CMC.

t: +44 (0)20 7592 3050
f: +44 (0)20 7828 6439


Professor Tim Broyd BSc PhD CEng FREng FICE FRSA, President

John Beswick

Professor Tim Broyd is a Fellow of the ICE, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. He is Director of the UCL Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment.

A civil engineer by batchelor's and research degrees, as well as experience, Tim has worked as a practitioner and director of research and development in industry, the public sector and academia. He has held research, technical and corporate management roles in industry and universities together with voluntary service on various strategic panels for government departments, research funders and universities. His interests include the combined impacts of technology and process innovations coupled with behavioural change in the development and implementation of new ways of working. Particular activity areas include digital engineering (including BIM), holistic understanding of the sustainability of infrastructure and the development of systems approaches to infrastructure.

Amongst many other things, Tim was a founder member of the UK Government BIM Task Group. He has recently commenced Chairing a Water and Wastewater Resilience Action Group, on behalf of the entire UK Water Sector.

Professor Lord Mair CBE FREng FICE FRS, Senior Vice President

John Beswick

Professor Lord Robert Mair is the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Cambridge. He is a founding director of the Geotechnical Consulting Group based in London. Prior to his appointment at Cambridge, he worked in industry for 27 years, specialising in geotechnical engineering. He leads a research group collaborating closely with industry, focusing on the geotechnics of underground construction and innovative field monitoring techniques and is Head of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction at Cambridge. He is also an active consultant on civil, geotechnical and tunnelling projects worldwide. He is Chairman of the Science Advisory Council of the Department of Transport, Senior Vice-President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and was appointed a crossbench peer in the House of Lords in 2016. 

The webinar is run using a programme called Webex. This system is compatible with any standard internet browser, so you should not be required to download any additional software. However, you may be required to enable or update your Java to view the webinar. If this is the case you will be prompted on log in and taken through the steps to do so – please ensure you leave plenty of time for this.


The presentation will begin promptly at 18:30 BST and we recommend logging onto the system ten minutes before this time. Please use this direct link to join us.

When logging in ensure you click ‘yes’ to Integrated Voice pop up, this will ensure you have sound. If you click ‘no’, log out and join again. Once logged in you should hear sound, possibly music, for a little time after the host enters – this ensures your speakers are functioning correctly.