from Egypt to Northern Ireland via South Wales – a bit of a structural ramble

It’s funny what you come across when you follow a link on the BBC News website. This morning I was reading, about silverware from Northern Ireland adorning the Prime Minister’s desk, noticed a link to an article Lost pyramids found from space and when I got to the bottom of that I clicked on Saving Egypt’s old pyramid at which point I found a name I recognised:


Before he retired, my father had his own practice as a Chartered Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer based in Ballymena, County Antrim. He travelled many miles up and down the island of Ireland as well as across in Great Britain on many, many jobs. As a family we were often on holiday in England and as we drove somewhere – usually to Cornwall to visit my grandparents – we would have to take a detour along the way so that Dad could speak to people at a particular quarry, or brickworks, or possibly even stained glass workshop.

However, in later years he seemed to have a lot of work coming in that needed his expertise in working out ways to hold up old structures. At that point we kept hearing about Cintec.

So it is quite pleasant to read about Cintec going out to work on a pyramid in Egypt knowing that similar systems are supporting many churches, railway bridges, and other buildings in Northern Ireland – and that much of this is due to my father.

I don’t know if Cintec was involved in Dad’s last project before he retired due to ill health – buut let’s take a little look at it anyway

Castle Gardens, Lisburn

Castle Gardens, Lisburn
My father, Brian C. Campbell, third from left, at the completion of works in Castle Gardens

The Castle Gardens project was one that we as a family heard about quite often, over many years. On occasion when Dad was unwell I had to drive him there, and when he had a leg in plaster he was even seen up and down the site in his kilt – he said that it was easier than trying to wear trousers!

By the time it came to the Grand Opening, Dad was recovering in hospital from lymphoma and a stroke. We were not sure that he would make it there at all – but the doctors gave the go-ahead and he came by taxi from Belfast City Hospital in a wheelchair looking very gaunt, but very glad to be there. I know that many who were involved in the project were very pleased to see him that day and on many occasions afterwards.

I don’t know if he has been back to visit since, but I have on a number of occasions, it is very pleasing to know that some 17th century walls are still in place because of Dad’s plans to move them back (intact) to the vertical after many years of being far from vertical.

Built Heritage Restored

As we enjoy the restored built heritage across our island, by admiring it, we will, possibly without thinking or knowing it, be thanking all who have worked on these projects – architects, landscape architects, builders, surveyors, project managers, and of course civil or structural engineers.

And when you look at a newly built building that looks interesting, remember that as Dad used to say

The architect gets to say what it looks like, but it is the structural engineer who has to make sure it stays up.

Further information

The Institution of Structural Engineers

The Institution of Civil Engineers

Landscape Institute Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Environment Agency – Built Heritage

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