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Seawall protecting iconic railway wins twice at ICE South West Awards

13 November 2023

The resilience scheme in Devon was among seven projects and two individuals to take home awards at a gala ceremony.

Seawall protecting iconic railway wins twice at ICE South West Awards
New section of seawall at Dawlish, Devon.

A £60m civil engineering scheme to safeguard a seaside town and storm-hit section of the region’s main rail link has won top honours at the ICE South West Civil Engineering Awards 2023.

The Colonnade to Coastguards seawall project at Dawlish, Devon attracted the Showcase Award for a landmark regional scheme and the trophy for the best re-engineered project over £8m.

Since the peninsula’s main rail route was badly damaged by storms in 2014, Network Rail has been investing in a programme to improve the resilience of the line between Dawlish and Teignmouth.

The winning scheme, constructed by BAM Nuttall and designed by Tony Gee and Partners, saw the completion of a 415m second phase of the sea wall.

It also included improvements at Dawlish station and a new colonnade viaduct pedestrian bridge over Dawlish Water.

Sally Walters, chair of judges and chair of the ICE South West regional committee, highlighted the challenges of the project.

She said: “This was a very challenging scheme involving complex construction works between the coastline and a live railway.

“The project team overcame many technical challenges while maintaining positive relationships with the public and numerous stakeholders.

“This remarkable scheme deserves recognition for showcasing the importance of civil engineering in creating a resilient future for the region.”

The awards, held in association with Kier BAM, were celebrated at a ceremony on 10 November hosted by TV presenter, Rob Bell.

Double honours for Bath and Weymouth

The National Trust’s Prior Park Landscape Garden in Bath picked up two awards for a scheme to save an 18th century dam and ponds.

It won the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by a free online vote.

Prior Park, Bath. Image credit: Binnies
Prior Park, Bath. Image credit: Binnies

The restoration project, designed by Binnies and constructed by Alun Griffiths Contractors, preserves a beloved historic vista, featuring one of England’s last palladian bridges.

Weymouth Station Gateway also took double honours for a scheme to transform the forecourt of the town’s train station.

In doing so, it created a more attractive area for visitors, helped reduce anti-social behaviour and provided space for events to help boost the local economy.

As this year’s recipient of the Community Award, the judges praised the way the scheme incorporated local views and helped create a greater sense of pride in a rundown area of the town.

The scheme was designed by WSP for Dorset Council and the Dorset Coast Forum.

Innovation in sustainability and resilience

Sustainability and the response to climate change were themes running throughout the awards this year.

Durley Chine Environmental Hub in Bournemouth was recognised for its sustainable and innovative design and its mission to encourage recycling and care for coastal habitats.

An ambitious project by Network Rail to futureproof a vital rail link in Gloucestershire in the face of extreme weather disruption caused by climate change won the Resilience Award.

The Severn Estuary Rail Resilience Project (Phase 1) involved highly challenging engineering works to stabilise steep cliff faces to prevent landslips and avoid costly line closures.

Inspirational role models

A young mother from Exeter who’s forging a promising career in civil engineering while adapting to life using a wheelchair after two major operations has won the Apprentice of the Year Award.

Meg Ginsberg, an apprentice project manager in the infrastructure team at South West Water, impressed the judges with her passion and commitment to an industry she hadn’t originally planned to join.

Meg Ginsberg. Image credit: South West Water
Meg Ginsberg. Image credit: South West Water

She’s gone on to excel in her chosen apprenticeship and become an advocate for women and people with disabilities in engineering.

She’s also recently been appointed as an ICE South West regional Future Leader.

Maddie Eaves, a civil engineer with Jubb Consulting, won the Graduate of the Year Award after impressing the judges with her career achievements, leadership potential and desire to give back to society.

As well as volunteering as an ICE STEM Ambassador, Eaves is supporting future engineers by being a mentor for the ICE CityZen competition.

Phoebe Clayson-Lavelle, a water engineering at WSP, was also named as highly commended in the graduate category.

‘Depth of expertise and achievement’

Miranda Housden, ICE South West regional director, said the entries were strong this year.

“The ICE South West Civil Engineering Awards 2023 showcased a strong field of entries, marking a competitive year that underlines the region's depth of expertise and achievement,” she said.

“These amazing projects are taking on some of our most significant regional challenges. And with the talent of our apprentices and graduates, the future for civil engineering in the South West looks very promising.

“Congratulations to all who participated this year,” she said.

Find out more about this year’s winners

  • Lidia Pearce, communications lead at ICE South West