Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,912 pages of information and 230,121 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William Albert Fairhurst

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William Albert Fairhurst CBE (21 August 1903, Alderley Edge, England – 13 March 1982, Howick, New Zealand) was an English-born bridge designer and international chess master. He was highly accomplished in both disciplines and for many years successfully divided his time between two careers. He was awarded the CBE for his services to engineering, and in chess he was several times champion of Scotland, gaining the title of International Master in 1951.

After building a career and reputation for himself in civil and structural engineering, Fairhurst became the senior partner in his own engineering consultancy, W. A. Fairhurst and Partners. Specialising in bridge design, the largest and most prestigious of his projects was the design of the new Tay Road Bridge, which crosses the Tay estuary and links north-east Fife with the city of Dundee. It was, at the time, the longest river crossing in Europe, measuring approximately 1.4 miles. Costing £6 million, the bridge was opened in 1966 at a ceremony performed by HRH The Queen Mother. Other notable projects included the Kingston Bridge, Glasgow (1970) and the Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge (1980) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There were many other bridges in Scotland and also in New Zealand, where he was lured to advise on a particularly difficult structure in the early 1970s, and where he made a home for his retirement.

For his engineering achievements, he received a doctorate,[citation needed] and through The Queen's honours list, a CBE. At the pinnacle of his profession, Fairhurst was honoured with the Presidency of the Scottish Branch of the Institution of Structural Engineers. In his time, he was the author of the text Arch Design Simplified and a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland.

His engineering company continues to thrive today, working out of 15 principal offices and employing 500 staff. Today it is one of the largest private consultancy companies in the UK, trading since 1 January 2012 under the name Fairhurst.

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