Degree Speeches
Summer 2003

Alastair Biggart

Public Orator, Professor Ron McCaffer, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Thursday 10 July at 3.15pm.

Chancellor, Mayor of Charnwood, Ladies and Gentlemen and…. especially today …. New Graduates of Loughborough University.

Our honorary graduate today is …… one of the family.

Alistair Ross Biggart graduated from Loughborough with a BSc in Civil Engineering in 1956.

So he shares with you, our new graduates, the experience of four years of hard study … hard study, that is, mixed with leisure and sport, for he became President of the University Boat Club.

He also shares with you the trauma of revision for the final exams,…. the last huge effort that brings with it….. doubt.. about your own abilities … regret…. for all those evenings that should have been spend studying and weren’t … relief… after the first of the final exams … which wasn’t too bad … the confidence… that starts to return with the second of the final exams … which wasn’t too bad either … to the point where you begin to think, “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel”.

Well, what especially bonds you to Alistair Biggart is that it was most likely he who built that tunnel.

Alistair Biggart left Loughborough to become one of the world’s leading tunnel engineers, working on such famous projects as the Transmache-Link where he was Operations Director and the Storebaelt Tunnel, Denmark, Cairo Waste Water, Washington Metro, St Clair River Tunnel, Toronto Metro, Niagara Diversion Tunnel, Hallandsaas Tunnel Sweden, Malmo City Tunnel, Copenhagen Metro, and Tunnels in Buenos Aires, California, Sydney, Melbourne, Detroit and Hollywood.

But Alistair Biggart was not simply a constructor of tunnels, he also developed the equipment that advanced tunnelling technology and holds the patent for the ‘Double Gate Valve for use with slurry machines’.

And unlike many practicing engineers he also published his knowledge.

His publications include ‘The Bentonite Tunnelling Machine’, for which he was awarded the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Telford Medal in 1973, and a paper on the “Storebaelt Tunnell’ construction project, which again won the Telford Medal in 1997.

He was awarded the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Gold Medal in 1995 and the British Tunnelling Society’s James Clark Memorial Medal in 1991.

Alistair Biggart met and married Mary Neill in 1962 and they are the proud parents of three daughters and a son. His family is with us today and we welcome them to Loughborough.

The Queen honoured Alistair in 1991 with the award of the OBE, and the profession honoured him in 1990 by electing him a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and now Loughborough acknowledge his contribution to engineering.

Chancellor I am proud to present to you and the University Alistair Ross Biggart, OBE, BSc, FREng, FICE, MASCE, and Member of the British Tunnelling Society for the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.

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