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Guthlac Wilson

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Guthlac Wilson (1902-1953)


1953 Obituary [1]

MANY civil engineers, particularly those connected with soil mechanics and with structural engineering, will have learned with regret of the death of Dr. Guthlac Wilson. Dr. Wilson and his wife were passengers in the "Viking" aircraft which crashed last Sunday during a flight from Nairobi to Blantyre, along the Tanganyika coast, with the loss of all the passengers and crew.

Dr. Wilson was the senior partner in the consulting firm of Scott and Wilson, and was well known as an authority on soil mechanics and foundation engineering.

Dr. Wilson was born in London in 1902 and received his engineering education at East London College, which is now Queen Mary College, obtaining his degree in 1921.

He was then employed by Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, Ltd., for about two years, after which he went to India with Braithwaite and Co. (India), Ltd. His career with this firm, and with the Braithwaite, Burn and Jessop Construction Company, continued in positions of increasing responsibility until 1938, when he went to Harvard University for a course of study; he was awarded a fellowship at Harvard in the session 1939-40, but he discontinued his studies to return to this country on the outbreak of war. However, his work at Harvard earned him a Master of Science degree (S.M.), and was doubtless valuable in promoting his knowledge of soil mechanics.

From 1939 to 1945 Dr. Wilson held the post of Director of Constructional Design at the Ministry of Works. At the end of the war he became a partner with the late Mr. W. S. Scott in the firm of Scott and Wilson, becoming senior partner on Mr. Scott's death in 1950.

During the course of his career Dr. Wilson obtained a very wide experience of foundation problems and soil mechanics, and in the design of numerous engineering structures. Much of his work was embodied in papers presented to various learned societies, principally to the Institutions of Civil and of Structural Engineers, which were largely concerned with various aspects of soil mechanics and its applications.

Of recent years his firm has shown a tendency to participate more in heavy civil engineering work, and in civil engineering schemes in overseas territories, trends which were doubtless accelerated by Dr. Wilson's influence.

Of the many works carried out during the past few years by his firm, one or two examples may be given of constructional schemes in which he was particularly interested. They include, in this country, such works as the design of the British Nylon Spinners factory and extension at Pontypool, and the Churchill Gardens housing estate of the Westminster Council at Pimlico, to mention only two overseas, the development in Nyasaland of roads, airports and water supply may be mentioned, as well as the project for Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong.

Dr. Wilson served on a number of important committees and governing bodies, of which membership of the Road Research Board and of the Ministry of Works National Consultative Council of the Building and Civil Engineering Industries may be mentioned.

He was a member of council of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Association of Consulting Engineers. He was awarded a doctorate of engineering by London University in 1951.


1953 Obituary [2]



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