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Harding Memorial Lecture: failures below ground

Event organised by The British Tunnelling Society

17 November 2022

This event has now ended

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Sir Harold Harding was one of three members serving on the panel investigating the Aberfan colliery waste landslide. This tragedy, taking the lives of 28 adults and 116 children, remains in our conscious memory, but do we recall the cause and the lessons the catastrophe should have taught us? Do we really understand why some projects fail and subsequently expend considerable time and resources investigating, disputing and defending “positions”, or resisting honest and open discussion in circumstances that might have been avoided? And win or lose even in a minor dispute, any resulting investigation can be disruptive, intrusive, and expensive, but ultimately teach the industry as a whole, very little.

In this talk, Mike looks at some of the data related to the root causes of failures in underground projects, considers his personal experience and appraises whether we are honestly capturing the real issues behind these events and if we could do more to disseminate lessons. Two failures are examined as representative examples, one very well-known to the industry.


Mike King

Mike King

MK Tunnelling Ltd


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Mike King

Mike has over 40 years’ experience and has worked for both contractors and consultants as well as being seconded into client organisations on major projects. He has been involved in projects such as the Channel Tunnel, Jubilee Line Extension and Crossrail as well as numerous other rail, metro, water and road projects in the UK and overseas.

He has worked on a number of Expert Witness and adjudication commissions around the world following failures on projects.

In 2019 he was awarded the James Clark Medal and this year provides the Harding Memorial Lecture to the British Tunnelling Society.

For more information please contact:

Shelly-Ann Russell